Several months ago I wrote a blog for The Huffington Post called "Who Does Michelle's Facials?" I was inspired to write it after catching a glimpse of the FLOTUS' radiant skin during the first presidential debate. A few days later I received an email from her esthetician letting me know that she, Joelle Lyons, was responsible for the facials and maintenance of our First Lady's skin.
At first, I didn't believe her. I thought that I was being punked. So of course, I looked her up on Google and discovered that she is gorgeous, has her own skin care line and is also African-American.
Michelle Obama could have chosen any esthetician to care for her skin -- she selected a master facialist who is passionate about her craft, and has a strong background in ethnic skin and medical esthetics. And she chose someone who looks like her.
For me this is important on several levels; it speaks to the fact that many women with melanin in their skin want to know that the person touching their face understands the impact of each product and each action. It speaks to a deep level of trust and a certain pride; it speaks to the concept of "buying Black" and the often forgotten fact that when we as people of African descent are good we are superb!
I am an intelligent woman but as a spa consultant and trainer, I cannot understand why the spa, skincare and hotel industries have been so resistant to acknowledging that as a Black woman, my skin cannot be treated exactly the same as someone with blond hair and blue eyes. In denying me, my Hispanic, East Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American and bi-racial sisters are denied as well. It's puzzling.
After all, at the end of the day shouldn't this be about business? As consumers we bring a lot of money to the table.
Mrs. Obama's selection is important and should make the business world think about the future. We have an African-American family in the White House for a second term. Asians and Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the United States. The Millennials, those born after 1980, contain the largest group of bi-racials of any demographic. Who will do their facials?
The wonderful thing is that for those who are willing to learn, it not only broadens their base of knowledge but also improves their ability to engage with untapped markets, generate new revenue streams and provide outstanding service to all groups of people no matter what their skin color. Now that sounds like a plan!
Linda Harding-Bond is president of Moontide Consulting.