Sephora amplifies Indigenous voices and talent

Who: Sephora, with a team of Indigenous talent both in front of and behind the cameras. No ad agency on this one.

What: A new iteration of the beauty brand’s “We Belong to Something Beautiful” brand platform, created for National Indigenous History Month.

When & Where: The campaign went live today (June 3) running across Sephora’s digital platforms, with some paid support on YouTube. It will also be featured in Sephora’s more than 80 stores across Canada.

Why: Sephora launched the platform in 2019 to celebrate diversity and inclusion, and wanted to do something to amplify Indigenous voices using its platform. “Through this campaign, we want to showcase the stories of these Indigenous collaborators to let all Indigenous communities across the nation know that they are beautiful and belong in our Sephora Canada stores, in our offices, and in the beauty community,” said senior vice-president of marketing Deborah Neff in a release introducing the campaign.

The timing might seem interesting given the recent news emerging from Kamloops, but Sephora said the campaign has been in the works for months. “The decision to proceed with releasing it, given the tragic news coming out of Kamloops, British Columbia, was made in consultation with Indigenous partners who worked on the campaign who felt it was important these stories be heard and celebrated,” said the release.

How: There are three 60-second videos, one of which consists of a montage of Indigenous women with a voiceover by Anishinaabekwe artist and activist Sarain Fox. She first recounts the harm done to Indigenous Canadians in the past, before turning to a celebration of Indigenous pride, growth and healing, and a demand for more representation. “We belong here. And everywhere,” she says. Two other videos tell the individual stories of Inuk throat singer Shina Novalinga, and Nehinaw content creator and changemaker, Michelle Chubb.

Being truly authentic: Indigenous talent was used for all aspects of the content creation: from videography and photography, to wardrobe and stylists. Fox, who has collaborated with Sephora in the past, served as an advisor throughout the creative process.

“Sephora Canada stepped aside to let Indigenous people lead the development of this campaign,” said Fox. “They allowed us to tell our own stories and gave us a platform and the support to do it our way.” Sephora also worked with Indigenous beauty advisors and delivered a truth and reconciliation workshop to Sephora Canada employees working on the campaign, as well as members of Sephora’s executive team, and those who are part of the company’s recently established diversity and inclusion council.

And we quote: “Through our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, Sephora Canada is committed to creating meaningful impact amongst our clients, communities, and employees… We have a responsibility to elevate diverse voices and stories in recognition of National Indigenous History Month; with the determination to drive change and contribute long-term beyond this month.” — Debbie McDowell, director of communications and social impact, Sephora Canada.

David Brown