Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post
Once upon a time Black fashion models had to mix up their own foundations to match their skin tone — there were no Fenty Beautys back then. Eunice W. Johnson saw that firsthand, as the creator of the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, and decided to do something about it. The Fashion Fair Beauty Brand was truly groundbreaking, a makeup line by and for Black women. At its height Fashion Fair Beauty was doing $56 million in wholesale sales but recently Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) was forced to sell it off. Fortunately, the brand will remain Black owned.
Desiree Rogers and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack acquired Black Opal in September, a global beauty brand “created in 1994 to celebrate the nuances of Black skin.” Now the duo is adding Fashion Fair to their portfolio. Cheryl Mayberry McKissack is no stranger to the JPC world. In the past she served as JPC’s COO & President of Digital Media. She is Founder and CEO of Nia Enterprises and formerly served as CEO of Ebony Media Operations. Rogers is also a JPC alum, having served as the company’s CEO for seven years. Rogers also worked for some guy named Barack Obama, during which time she brought life to “the Obama’s non-traditional vision of The White House, showcasing the full range of American diversity to foster inclusion and education.” This is a very, very dynamic duo.
Cheryl and Desiree are taking on a sobering and very important mission and that is stewardship of an iconic and pioneering Black owned brand. Many young people simply assume choice for Black women in the cosmetics industry but that is, frankly, a new phenomenon. For our grandmothers and even some of our mothers, Fashion Fair was it — the first and the last. For many Black women who wanted an opportunity to fully participate in the beauty experience, Fashion Fair opened the door of inclusion. The legacy and the ongoing of the life of the brand, especially given its historic attachment to JPC, is no small concern in the psyche of Black America. With all this in mind, it is in no way insignificant that the company will remain Black owned.