Next Founder Tomi Gbeleyi featured as one of three Canadian entrepreneurs who are making the fashion industry more inclusive
When Tomi Gbeleyi was cast in her first fashion show, she arrived excited and ready to go. Not everyone backstage was as prepared. “When I got to hair and makeup, there was this hush over the room. The makeup artist was scrambling to find products, the hair person was fumbling with my curls,” she says. It was 2014, and the beauty team was not equipped to work on Gbeleyi, the only black model in the show. “In that moment, I almost felt like a burden on everybody else.”
For people of colour, finding suitable shades of cosmetics is an ongoing challenge. To compensate, many makeup wearers develop hacks like mixing custom shades, something that Gbeleyi refers to as “making it work.” “I just figured to be good at makeup for dark skin, you had to be good at hacking what’s out there,” she says. Gbeleyi decided to teach herself professional makeup application by watching YouTube tutorials created by women with similar skin tones. “I was suddenly exposed to this huge community of women exchanging information online,” she says. Inspired by the inclusive content she saw, Gbeleyi started an Instagram account, Makeup for Melanin Girls, which now has 169,000 followers.