Chanel Tyler, a YouTube exec, beauty/fashion influencer, and entrepreneur share with us her upwards journey of revolutionizing diversity in the skincare industry and navigating beauty in the midst of social change.
Hi, Chanel! Can you tell us how your journey began?
Prior to YouTube, I worked at Estee Lauder Company, and when I came out of graduate school, I wanted to be in the luxury industry. I thought I wanted to be in the fashion industry, but I found that the beauty industry was built more around what I wanted to do with my MBA. So, I landed at Estee Lauder, and the first day I walked into Estee Lauder Company, it was like literal fireworks. That was an interesting experience for me because I’d never been able to relate to people saying, “I love my job!” Work always just felt like… work to me. I had never experienced loving a job before. But, at Estee Lauder, I had never been so interested and passionate about beauty products.
I trulty fell in love with the industry and the job, but I recognized that there was this whole area of consumers that wasn’t being spoken to and that was primarily women of color. I specifically noticed this in the skincare space. For instance, I remember working on a campaign with some skincare brands, and they asked me, “Who are the Black and Latina skincare influencers that we can partner with because we really want to make sure that we’re going to market in a relevant and authentic way.”
“I was not able to come up with a list of the top 5. On the other hand, when I thought of makeup influencers, I could come up with 100. So. while the skincare market was really fresh and ready for activation, it lacked a diversity of voices. There was an entire group of consumers that weren’t being messaged and engaged properly.”
“Fortunately, I had a manager who was the head of influencer content, and one day she said to me,Chanel, you know so much about skincare. Why don’t you take the lead on this? You could even build a career for yourself around this.I didn’t think about it much, but then she put it in my performance plan which was the wildest thing ever. It changed my life.”
“All of a sudden, my job was literally to tell brands,No, that’s not going to work. We’re not going to put this product on the market. We’re not going to run this campaign, partner with this brand, or be the person that’s driving this message forward. This is how we should do it.
No pressure, right?
“I’m not going to lie. After I started, they didn’t immediately accept all of my suggestions as fact.
It definitely took the ability to drive results and the ability to instill trust in what our team does. We’re talking about businesses that prioritize their bottom line, sales, and revenue. You need to be able to produce an ROI (return on investment) on the amount of money they’re spending on a consumer demographic. But, not only did my team get the numbers, we exceeded expectations.”
“So, that just goes to shows the spending power of the black community, but they had never been able to market properly, and when they saw the results they were like –what have we been doing this whole time? Let’s amp it up. Let’s go and invest. Let’s show up at Essence fest and other places these consumers will be because they are important to us. And when everything came full circle. It felt amazing. Getting those results finally felt like we/me were being valued as consumers.”
So how did you go from Estee Lauder to YouTube?
“It was very unexpected. ELC was my dream job, and my manager had completely crafted a job around my skillsets and my interests. But, things began to shift during the pandemic. When the Black Lives Matter Movement started to ramp up back in 2020, my job went from being important to being absolutely critical.”
“But we were a very small team, and every brand was so nervous and scared about getting torn apart in the media. People were putting black squares on their social media and spending money on campaigns in an effort to appear supportive. But oftentimes, this was seen as performative by consumers. People thought,Oh, so you’re trying to capitalize on X, Y, and Z. Things were different now. Brands were being forced to get involved in the social, political dynamic, and that’s something they never had to do before.”
“On top of that, when it came to consumers, especially Gen Z consumers, they only wanted to support brands with which their values aligned. And if you weren’t speaking on values, they wanted no part. And if you were, you’d better do it the right way. That’s how consumers felt.”
“Consequently, I went from being on the strategy and recommendation side to reading pages and pages of copy and messaging. So, I was getting burned out, not only with the job that was being asked of me, but I was mentally and emotionally burned out with everything that was going on. My state wasn’t good. So, when YouTube came along, they were looking for someone to help launch their beauty initiative, and I wanted to go back to what I was passionate about. I wanted to return to my original reason for getting into the beauty industry. My main motivation was never to create strategy on going to market for black and brown consumers. I wanted to convey beauty, love of self, and the love of skin.”
“And I felt like I had the opportunity to do that at YouTube. I had always wanted to pivot into tech anyways. So, the opportunity came at the best time that it could have. So, while I didn’t want to leave, it wasn’t becoming so good for me anymore. So, I left and went to YouTube and started working with creators like Cassandra, and it has been a wonderful experience and the best career decision I could have made. I truly love helping beauty and skincare creators who come from diverse backgrounds rise through the pipeline, thrive, become full-time content creators, and represent what beauty means to them.”