Sephora, SheaMoisture, Stitch Fix, Ritz-Carlton back Hearst Magazines’ ‘Celebrate Black’ event

The second annual edition of the conference, slated for Oct. 18-20, will add in-person elements to its largely streaming format.

Sephora, SheaMoisture, Stitch Fix, Ritz-Carlton back Hearst Magazines’ ‘Celebrate Black’ event

Print and digital publishing giant Hearst Magazines is bringing its “Celebrate Black” conference back for a second year—and this time it has Sephora, Unliver’s SheaMoisture, Stitch Fix and The Ritz-Carlton on board as sponsors.

The three-day event—which launched last year in a virtual-only format—will retain its emphasis on free streaming sessions but will also incorporate some in-person events in Manhattan. Slated for Oct. 18-20, the event, previously known as Celebrate Black: A Virtual Style Summit, has been retitled Celebrate Black Style Summit.

As in 2021, Celebrate Black is “designed to amplify the voices of Black changemakers, entrepreneurs and creators across fashion, beauty, business, design and entertainment,” as Hearst Magazines puts it.

Among those taking the virtual stage: fashion designer Jerry Lorenzo of luxury streetwear brand Fear of God, in conversation with Samira Nasr, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar; celebrity chefs JJ Johnson, Auzerais Bellamy and Jessica Craig in a cooking demonstration and discussion that will be streamed from one of Hearst’s test kitchens; and photographer Kelly Marshall, in conversation with Asad Syrkett, editor-in-chief of Elle Decor.

Cara Sabin, president of beauty and wellbeing, Unilever NA, and CEO of Sundial Brands, told Ad Age that SheaMoisture signed on as a sponsor as an expression of the brand’s “deep commitment to uplifting Black voices, entrepreneurs and communities.” And Rauvan Dulay, senior VP, global merchandising business development & strategy at Sephora, said, “We’re proud to join a forum like Celebrate Black that shares authentic conversations about building a more inclusive beauty industry.”

As in 2021, Celebrate Black is being spearheaded by Tommy Atkins, multicultural marketing lead at Hearst Magazines and founder of Hearst Black Culture, an employee resource group (ERG).

Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco spoke with Atkins and Todd Haskell, senior VP and chief marketing officer at Hearst Magazines, about the editorial, cultural and marketing missions of Celebrate Black.

Tommy, what did you wish you had been able to do in the first-year event that now you’ll be able to do in the 2.0 version?

Tommy Atkins: The first iteration was such a dream and such a quintessential collaboration for so many people here at Hearst. I think for 2.0, we’re super excited about some in-real-life components, including a prelaunch celebration that we are in the midst of planning right now. We have surprises planned for that before the streaming sessions start the week following.

Todd Haskell: This is also where we’re thrilled to be working with The Ritz-Carlton, which is going to help us with those IRL events, which are about using this program as an opportunity to bring together the community—the fashion and beauty world that is really so connected to Black changemakers and tastemakers. It’s just such a great opportunity to bring everyone together to celebrate. But it’s also a great opportunity to bring our own Hearst teams together to celebrate. For the virtual portion of the event, we’re creating viewing events here within the [Hearst] tower, so that our own teams can gather and experience what we’re doing together.

In addition to having external sponsors this year, Celebrate Black also brings more Hearst titles—Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Delish, Elle, Elle Decor, Oprah Daily and Good Housekeeping—in as presenting brands. Whereas in 2021, Harper’s Bazaar was the sole editorial brand behind Celebrate Black. How did that happen?

Haskell: Tommy and our Hearst Black Culture ERG are so connected around the organization that they’ve been just fantastic evangelists, which led so many of our brands to raise their hands and say, “We would love to be involved with this year.” You know, getting seven editors-in-chief and their brands to collaborate is a complicated process, but I think this level of multi-brand collaboration is so representative of a unique differentiator for Hearst.

Tommy, tell us about the Hearst Black Culture ERG—when it started, how big it is today.

Atkins: So the first Black Culture Employee Resource Group launched in 2019. And it’s been an amazing ride. We have about 250 active members right now. And that’s from Hearst Magazines only—it doesn’t include our counterparts in the TV and other divisions within Hearst. The Celebrate Black Style Summit is our big event for the fall, but we really make sure to activate and community-build through a range of things throughout the year. We recently had a cooking event where we brought a chef in and we did something very special for the community here at Hearst at the tower, and we’ve hosted one-off conversations with guest speakers as well. So it’s really a range of things, but with a through-line of programming that’s endemic to our editorial brands.

Todd, tell us about the other presenting sponsors, in addition to the Ritz-Carlton. 

Haskell: We’ve been talking to many of our biggest clients, because so many brands are looking for opportunities to be able to amplify their commitment to these really important topics and to reflect their values. In this case, what we did was we focused on brands that were doing remarkable work, where we felt their inclusion would make the event better. So, for example, we’re working with SheaMoisture, which is a division of Unilever, because SheaMoisture has been an absolute trailblazer in issues surrounding the expression of culture and identity through Black hair. Sephora has done a tremendous amount of work in the last couple of years in supporting Black-owned beauty brands. And Stitch Fix has done really important work in supporting brands started by Black designers.

And just to clarify, some of the IRL pre-launch events you’re hosting will be held at The Ritz?

Haskell: Correct. At The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad—their new property [which opened in July in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood].

One other thing I wanted to just mention is this year we’re bringing in Level Up Ventures, which is Hearst’s venture arm focused on Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs. So for Celebrate Black, we have a couple of sessions that look at the experience of Black-owned startups, particularly in terms of trying to raise money. How can we help support the next generation of Black-owned small businesses in the world of beauty, fashion and entertainment? That’s really what this event is all about.

Tommy, you’ve taken on this role as a major networker and connector at Hearst. How did that happen? What’s your background?

Atkins: In terms of my career, it’s been a mix of marketing and media—on the brand side a bit, and on the publisher side too. So it’s been a mix, but holistically marketing-focused.

I’m also a very proud Howard University alum. I pretty much mention it every chance I get. My Howard experience really is at the core of everything I do in multicultural marketing. I learned so much at Howard about kind of reaching back and bringing others along as you move forward in your career. Attending a historically Black university taught me a lot about community. So in creating and helping to develop Hearst Black Culture, I harken back to all of the things I learned on Howard University’s campus.

To register for Hearst Magazines’ Celebrate Black Style Summit, click here.