A not so magical holiday with Holiday Magic Cosmetics

While hunting for vintage Christmas makeup a few months ago I stumbled across a brand from the 1960s called Holiday Magic. This won't be a complete history either of the brand or the man who founded it, but it's one of the most compelling (for all the wrong reasons).  Buckle up because you're in for a truly wild ride!

In 1964, a California salesman by the name of William Penn Patrick (b. March 31, 1930; d. June 9, 1973) noticed a neighbor having a garage sale of organic fruit-based cosmetics called Zolene.  Sensing a new business opportunity, Patrick bought the entire stock for $16,250 (or about $137,000 today).  Re-branded as Holiday Magic, Patrick proceeded to start selling them as a multi-level marketing business (MLM).  Now, MLMs for cosmetics and other goods had been around for many years prior to Holiday Magic, such as Avon, Mary Kay, Watkins, Fuller Brush, etc. While their ethics are murky - on the one hand it gave people jobs and products that they otherwise wouldn't have access to, on the other they require fairly unsavory tactics - they are not technically against the law.  But Holiday Magic wasn't just your average MLM:  it was possibly the biggest pyramid scheme prior to Bernie Madoff. 

Holiday Magic ad in Vogue magazine, October 15, 1967

Within a year of its launch, Holiday Magic had made Patrick a millionaire, and by 1967, the company was allegedly earning $6 million per month.  The makeup products were quite average - nothing appears to be innovative about them.  There was the standard eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, brow pencil, lipstick and blush.  I would have had my own photos but I have no idea what happened to the objects I purchased from eBay, which sadly has become the norm these days.  (It looks like tracking information was prepared but the package never was actually mailed. I've contacted the seller numerous times and have yet to receive a reply, let alone a refund. I guess William Penn Patrick is still working through others to scam customers from beyond the grave.)

Holiday Magic cream blush and face powder

Holiday Magic eye products

Holiday-magic-lipstick

The only thing of interest makeup-wise was the connection to the House of Westmore.  The details aren't clear, but it seems Ern Westmore allowed his facial exercises to be used by Holiday Magic, which may have given an air of legitimacy to the brand. 

Westmore facial exercises record for Holiday Magic

Westmore facial exercises for Holiday Magic

Westmore facial exercises instructions(images from ebay and amazon)

While the makeup itself wasn't all that groundbreaking, the fruit-based skincare was fairly ahead of its time.  The two women who founded Zolene, Helene Fly and Zoe Swanagon (hence the company's moniker, a combo of their first names), were committed to using fresh ingredients without preservatives, and did a lot of research on skincare recipes that had been circulating quite literally for centuries.  They were even writing a cosmetics history book!

Zolene cosmetics, 1964

Zolene cosmetics

A lot of their products remind me of LUSH or 100% Pure's offerings.  And I really wish I could find them, I love the Mid-Century Modern star packaging.  Anyway, Zolene continued to supply Holiday Magic with its concoctions until 1967 when the founders became aware of Holiday Magic's business practices. But the company's lack of innovative makeup did not deter it from making a fortune for Patrick. In pyramid schemes, profit is not made by selling products but rather recruiting more salespeople - the products themselves have nothing to do with how the money is made, so it doesn't matter if they're any good.  According to The Snapping Point, a website about business scams, the four characteristics that separate pyramid schemes from MLMs are:

  • the only way for consultants to make a profit is to recruit other consultants. 
  • consultants are required to ‘inventory load’, or constantly inventory to profit.
  • consultants are operating in a ‘saturated market’, or a market where there are more sellers than buyers. 
  • consultants are required to sell products for a fixed price (‘price-fixing’). 

This book explains it in more detail.  Basically, the only way for sales reps to make money was not by selling products but through essentially "buying" more sales people, convincing them to make an "investment" in the company.  Unlike regular MLMs, where by the majority of product purchased by sales reps is actually sold to customers, in pyramid schemes most of the product does not reach them.  In Holiday Magic's case, in 1967 it was estimated that 55% of their product was not distributed to customers, with sales reps having entire garages full of makeup.  In 1973, an FTC attorney stated that he could find no evidence of products being sold directly to customers, only to "master" and "general" distributors, while the former president of Holiday Magic, Benjamin Gay, testified that less than 10% of products sold to distributors ever reached customers.  "There could be sawdust in those jars. The cosmetics were there as a front," he said. The way in which Holiday Magic's hierarchy was arranged, Holiday "girls" could invest $18.91, "organizers" $109.71 to $501, "master" distributors $4,500 (plus a $250 training fee that was never mentioned until the investor signed the contract), and "general" distributors $8,750, plus training fees. 

Holiday Magic ad in Vogue, September 1967
(image from archive.vogue.com)

In addition, Patrick was known for other aggressive, highly immoral practices that went beyond pyramid selling. While Holiday Magic did not officially go bankrupt until 1974, as early as 1967 the company was charged by the California State Attorney General's office for "false and misleading advertising" in which the ads claimed distributors could make roughly $2200 a month (or $18,600 nowadays) working full-time. In retaliation, he took out full page newspaper ads attacking the state attorney general. Basically, any time the company faced a legitimate lawsuit, Patrick would double down and countersue, claiming that his constitutional rights were being violated.  But the coup de grace was Leadership Dynamics, a "training institute" for Holiday Magic representatives established by Patrick and then-company president Gay in 1967.  Sales agents were not required but "encouraged" to take a training course for a mere $1,000, while those higher up on the pyramid were required to take courses there.  However, Leadership Dynamics was not so much training as it was torture; according to a 1972 exposé entitled The Pit, among the many cult-like techniques used to humiliate and brainwash sales reps were severe beatings, being locked naked in cages or tied to a cross, forced to sleep in coffins and, of course, racial slurs hurled at the Black attendees. I'm not sure how much of the book is true, but several newspaper articles as well as an article in Newsweek detail the abuse and numerous lawsuits brought about by attendees who supposedly sustained serious injuries. 

William Penn Patrick
The exceedingly punchable face of William Penn Patrick.

Patrick also dabbled in politics, running against Ronald Reagan in California's 1966 gubernatorial race as an "ultra-conservative Republican" with the slogan "Stop the Commies at Cal".  Gee, color me shocked that a money-hungry narcissist was the complete opposite of liberal.  His political views are not surprising; many rich white mediocre men truly believe the conservative myth that success is due to hard work (bootstraps!) and brilliance, rather than dumb luck or directly screwing over other people.  Indeed, as one former Holiday Magic employee reminisced in 2016, "The whole organization (or lack of) was absolutely bizzare [sic], run by a bunch of frat boys with not a business degree among them. But they had a Phd in pyramid schemes."  A couple of other tidbits:

  • In 1967, as president of the "Victory in Vietnam Committee" he attempted to run a recall campaign against an Idaho Democratic Senator, because you know when Democrats win an election it's because they stole the race (insert eyeroll here).  When the AFL-CIO organized a boycott of Holiday Magic, Patrick promptly sued them.
  • His wife, Marie, was going to be a doctor but abandoned her plans shortly after marrying him to work as a teacher, largely to support them both after Patrick's string of failed businesses. Once Holiday Magic achieved success, she began attending meetings with Patrick because "otherwise, I'd never see him". 
  • On September 24, 1972, one of Patrick's vintage planes, an F86 Sabre piloted by the general manager of Spectrum Air (another company owned by Patrick) crashed into an ice cream parlor shortly after takeoff.  The pilot escaped with a few broken bones and scratches, while 22 on the ground died, including 10 children. Patrick wasn't directly responsible, but the fact that he allowed it to be flown speaks volumes about his complete disregard for others.
  • On June 9, 1973, Patrick died in a crash while performing stunts on another one of his vintage jets, a WWII plane called a P51 Mustang that, again, any regular citizen should not have had a license to own, let alone fly. He also managed to kill a colleague who was in the plane with him, a 30 year-old director of Holiday Magic in Finland named Christian George Hagert.  SMDH.

A few months after his death and a spate of lawsuits in multiple states, as well as a $50 million suit from Avon, Holiday Magic's new president, along with Patrick's widow, announced that the line would be sold "along conventional marketing lines" and get rid of the pyramid aspect of their sales.  They also promised a "fair" method of reimbursing roughly 3,000 of the Holiday Magic distributors in California who had been swindled.  The SEC's ruling earlier that year claimed that 80,000 individuals had been bilked out of $250 million, so it's not clear what happened to the other 77,000 people who were ripped off. In May 1974 there was a class action settlement of over 31,000 members that established a trust fund of approximately $2.6 million, but that's pennies compared to the actual amount investors lost. Even in 1980 people were still writing to their local paper about the various lawsuits that had been filed and whether they'd get their money back.

But the big issue I wanted to highlight in this sordid tale is the fact that Holiday Magic seemed to have actively sought out Black communities in the U.S. to recruit distributors.  While some other MLMs such as Avon, Fuller and Watkins targeted Black sales reps and customers, in their cases it seemed to be more a matter of expanding their market reach and at least supplying steady jobs rather than overtly preying on marginalized people. (Stay tuned for more about Black people's roles in various MLM cosmetic companies.)

Holiday Magic ad, Ebony Magazine, January 1968(image from books.google.com)

I really wish I could find some numbers to further support my theory, but it appears the scheme disproportionately affected Black and other POC investors.  "The real tragedy is that Holiday Magic appeals to minority people who want to get rich," remarked SEC staff lawyer Louis F. Burke. Patrick bragged in 1968 that 2 of his top 6 distributors in the U.S. were Black, but even if that were true, it's not necessarily a good thing. As a former distributor noted, Holiday Magic's setup was "like being thrown into a dark pit. The only way you can get out is to drag another person into the pit and step on his shoulders." For the most part, Black customers would only be further disenfranchised if they bought into Holiday Magic.  As if that's not bad enough, the company didn't even attempt to formulate any products for deep skin tones. As one wise Black would-be Holiday Magic salesman pointed out in 1975, the line was intended for white people: "Holiday Magic packaged cosmetics for fair-skinned people. Now why in the world would I want to sell light lipstick to Black women?" At least Avon tried to come up with products that would be suitable for Black customers.

Holiday Magic handbooks
(images from ebay) 

In the UK, it's estimated that the West Indian community lost £33 million in the early 1970s, and 26 people committed suicide after losing everything.  These figures are somewhat corroborated by a British publication called Grassroots, which in 1974 reported that Holiday Magic targeted "almost exclusively West Indian and Asian communities" in the Midlands region.  It's incredibly heartbreaking considering that people were taking out second mortgages on their homes to sink £1,000 into becoming a Holiday Magic distributor, only to end up paying at least double that in the long run and ending up far worse off financially than they were before. Note: I know nothing about this Grassroots publication and have no idea how reliable it is, but I don't think their claims are completely baseless. 

It was obvious early on that Patrick was going beyond an MLM and into pyramid scheme territory along with the other illegal sales tactics, yet Holiday Magic was being advertised nationally in well-known publications as late as 1969, and still being sold in pyramid form through 1973. (A new Holiday Magic line with a less deceptive sales model was sold through the mid-'80s.) Perhaps it was a combination of systemic racism and his unbridled wealth that Patrick's sham wasn't stopped before it did so much damage.  Maybe if he targeted only wealthy white people he would have been shut down sooner? Then again, Madoff did just that for about the same amount of time.

Anyway, despite what the show's creators say, I think the short-lived TV series On Becoming a God in Central Florida was based mostly on Holiday Magic - even more so than Amway.  Everything, from the cult-like behavior and "motivational" mantras spewed by Patrick to the garages full of product and targeting of BIPOC communities has an uncanny resemblance to Holiday Magic.

On Becoming a God in Central Florida
(image from meoww.com)

Thoughts?  Had you ever heard of this brand? I promise I have a much more positive story on the way. ;)

 

 

Sources:  In addition to the links throughout this post, here are some newspaper articles used.

"Holiday Magic Inc. Offers Tasty Cosmetic Products," Asbury Park Press, September 17, 1967.

"The Real William Penn Patrick," Daily Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA), December 28, 1968.

"Cosmetics Firm Files Suit Against Competitors," Harford Courant, May 18, 1972.

"'Torture Training' Basis for Suit by Students," Associated Press, August 16, 1972.

"22 Die as Ex-Fighter Jet Hits Ice Cream Parlor," Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1972.

"Patrick Hit With $5.2 Million Suit," Daily Independent Journal, October 19, 1972.

"4.2 Million Suit Names Patrick," San Francisco Examiner, March 19, 1973.

"The Magic Pyramid," Daniel Grotta, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 8, 1973.

"William Penn Patrick, Cosmetics Millionaire, Dies in Plane Crash," The Fresno Bee, June 10, 1973.

"Quiet Helpmate at Patrick Empire Helm," Daily Independent Journal, August 1, 1973.

"20.3 Million Suit Against Patrick Firm," Daily Independent Journal, September 29, 1973.


Curator's corner, January 2021

Curator's cornerLinks for one of the most miserable months of the year. Good riddance, January!

- Sephora unveiled an action plan to eliminate racial bias in their stores.  Let's hope they keep the public informed on their progress.  Ditto for L'oreal's new partnership with the NAACP and a ban on animal testing in the EU.  

- In accessibility news, here are some new makeup brushes designed for people with vision and motor impairments.

- You know I'm obsessed with vintage makeup ads and can spend hours dissecting the harmful messages they embodied, so I'm loving these reimagined ones featuring diverse models.

- Refinery29 had an interesting piece on the meaning of tacky makeup for fat women.

- The future is here: more developments are on the horizon for AI and AR in beauty.

- Not sure how I feel about my favorite magazine opening a store in NY.  Guess I'll have to check it out and see if/when the pandemic ever ends.

- Undereye circles, both exaggerated versions of natural circles and wildly colorful ones, are making the rounds on TikTok.   (BTW, the Museum has a Tiktok account but no clue what to post...I'm open to suggestions.) Not all are enthusiastic about the trend, however.

- You knew "regencycore" makeup only a matter of time thanks to Bridgerton

- Vogue has an ode to a '90s cosmetics staple. Can you believe I didn't own a Caboodles?  If I recall correctly it's because even when I was a teenager I hoarded collected makeup and I knew it wouldn't all fit.

- Inaugural beauty: the always fashionable former First Lady Michelle Obama wore Fenty and Pat McGrath makeup to President Biden's inauguration, and a makeup artist turned the Bernie meme into lip art.

- It was Christian Dior's birthday on January 21, so to celebrate I took a picture of nearly all the Museum's 5-Couleurs eyeshadow palettes.  Of course I managed to forget one.  Oh well. They still look pretty. :)

Dior 5-Couleurs collection, Makeup Museum

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Silence of the Lambs turned 30, and for some reason one hit wonders New Radicals performed, well, their one hit at the inauguration.

- Museums' new purposes apparently include serving as vaccination centers and sites for Bernie memes (yes, I had to mention the memes a second time.)  Still, I'd take those over "for-profit experiential art centers", which in my opinion are not actually museums.

- Who came up with this monstrosity?  I love candy and I love Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese, but the two together sound positively putrid

- At least this made me laugh. The resemblance is uncanny!

How was the first month of 2021 for you?


MM Musings, vol. 29 : Diversity and inclusion

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the preservation, research and exhibition of cosmetics, along with my vision for a physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum occupied a physical public space, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning. I also hope that these posts make everyone see that just because the Makeup Museum does not have a physical space or official nonprofit designation, it is as valid as other museums, and more legitimate than many other profit-driven entities calling themselves "museums". 

Diversity memeLet me just say up front that the timing of this post has nothing to do with the Capitol insurrection that took place a few weeks ago, or the fact that Black History Month starts in two days.  This is something that's been in the works for over a year, as it's extremely important to the Museum's mission and to me personally.  After giving myself a crash course in diversity and inclusion, I feel as though I'm finally ready to write something a little more in-depth than the thoughts I jotted down back in June 2020.  One of the Museum's primary goals is to present makeup and its history differently than what currently exists, and a big part of that is sharing previously undiscovered or underrepresented stories.  So many of them concern BIPOC and LGBTQ+ histories, and it's important to tell them not just for diversity's sake but for history more generally.

This post will not go into detail regarding the obvious facts that 1. Despite good intentions, all museums are rooted in colonialism; 2. U.S. museums have a critical diversity problem; and 3.  Diverse and inclusive museums are better in every way than non-inclusive spaces.  Instead, it seeks to answer the following question:  How can the Makeup Museum, in its current state, be as diverse and inclusive as possible?  I don't have all the answers, but MM Musings are an exercise to think through the heavier issues and ponder how the Museum can be better - more of a journey than an endpoint. To help guide this installment of MM Musings I relied on these two books, along with the anti-racism books I purchased last year. I also looked at all the articles and other resources I could access for free online. 

Diversity in museums books

Anti-racism-books

As I noted previously, there are unique challenges for a cosmetics museum to become a diverse and inclusive space.  But that doesn't mean there's not room for improvement.  If the Museum occupied a physical space and had paid employees (well-paid and with full benefits, of course, and while I hope they would not have a need for a union, they would absolutely be encouraged to form one if they want), it would no doubt have a diverse board and staff at all levels that would be treated as integral to the organization and not tokens, along with the other essentials such as diversity training for docents and consultants to continually evaluate the Museum's efforts and provide recommendations.  In its current form, however, the primary focus in terms of diversity and inclusion is on the Museum's content and collection.  Since there are no blueprints as to how to run an online cosmetics museum/blog whose existence and finances depend entirely on one person who is also not technically a museum professional, it's tricky to come up with a concrete plan of action for diversity and inclusion. But here's a start.

Diversify the collection.

Collecting Chinese, Japanese and Korean brands are not an issue, nor are ones founded or owned by LGBTQ+ people - there are plenty of those as well as artist/fashion collaborations - but Latinx and Indigenous brands and collabs remain somewhat elusive.  I can write about my beloved Pai Pai but they no longer ship to the U.S., and I know of only a handful of other Latinx or Indigenous-owned brands.  Contemporary Black-owned brands are easier to find than ever now so I will continue purchasing more from them, but it's still difficult to find many vintage pieces simply because there were so few compared to the big mainstream brands, none of which catered to BIPOC's needs until the 1960s or so (and even then their efforts continued to miss the mark.)  I will continue to keep my eyes peeled and buy from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ brands as much as possible.

Diversify blog, IG and exhibition content. 

  • The Museum's collection may not be diverse enough right now, but that doesn't mean I can't write about objects or other pieces of makeup history related to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, along with topics centered on ageism within the industry and people with disabilities. There are so many that are either have not been fully explored or not mentioned at all. One stumbling block remains: namely, I'm still not sure they're stories appropriate for a white, able-bodied, cis-het woman to tell.  This is particularly important when discussing makeup used by Indigenous people, as in some cases it has a spiritual or religious purpose rather than beautification or self-expression.  I'm afraid I don't have a solution other than to forge ahead and write about topics that may not be 100% appropriate but that are important. I think as long as I'm treating them in a sensitive manner and open to feedback and constructive criticism, it's better to share these histories even if they're from a non-BIPOC/LGBTQ+ person.  One thing I eventually learned last summer was that being totally silent and not even attempting to diversify content is worse than trying and getting it wrong.  I only hope I don't inflict any harm, but if I do, then I can always remove the post and do better the next time.
  • Search for more BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists and brands to feature on Instagram and in Color Connections.
  • Exhibitions: How are BIPOC and LGBTQ+ represented in exhibitions?  If they're not adequately represented, why?  The solutions to this would normally be to have an exhibition that thoroughly incorporates diverse objects and voices, or have one focused on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ themes and ensure appropriate curation and oversight, e.g. not hiring someone who doesn't belong to those groups or has little to no knowledge about the topic at hand. This is a hurdle for the Makeup Museum as the founder and sole curator is not from an underrepresented group.  The only thing I can do at the moment is choose exhibition topics in which marginalized people have adequate representation and make sure they see themselves in the exhibitions.  It must be obvious that they're not niche visitors and that they are essential to the story the exhibition is telling. Theoretically I could explore whether anyone would be interested in co-curating or guest curating an exhibition focused on BIPOC or LGBTQ+, but as the Museum is entirely a labor of love and I'm unable to provide compensation, I'm sure as hell not asking someone from a marginalized group to curate or write for free.  That brings me to my next point.

Identify fees for guest writers, curators and consultants and see if they are feasible without drastically cutting the budget for new acquisitions. 

Like most of the initiatives I would love to pursue such as overhauling the website ($10-20k),  purchasing archival storage containers ($1-2k), establishing a nonprofit (about $2-4k), getting a degree in museum or curatorial studies ($50k minimum) and purchasing and maintaining proper collections management software ($2k per year), I fear I would never be able to afford to hire professionals to work on the Museum with me even if I never bought another object, but it can't hurt to at least ask what their fees are.  And who knows, perhaps I could even work out a plan whereby payments are due in installments rather than the full sum up front.

Further develop a community-focused, collaborative mindset.

Since its inception the Museum has operated in a mostly isolated environment. I'm not only a hardcore introvert and lifelong loner, but I always wanted to have my own space, something that I had full control over and without the involvement of anyone else.  And that impulse is still quite strong.  But I've also always wanted to educate, and though I'm not comfortable with it, being a resource means inviting people to help create it: by the public, for the publicCommunity for the Museum largely means either makeup aficionados/professionals or the local geographic area.  I've always asked blog visitors to respond to my posts, and starting with the Stila girls exhibition in 2019, I began asking visitors to submit memories, photos or anything else they'd like to share to be incorporated into the exhibition.  Lately I started investigating how the Museum might be able to collaborate with local museums, schools and historical centers - obviously I've considered pitching a pop-up exhibition at their spaces for over a decade now, but I realized I have to be more mindful of the approach. There's no way an organization is going to agree to host or be involved with an outside museum offering a pop-up exhibition if it has nothing to do with their mission or at least their collections.  The goal, it seems, is to match interests.  For example, the Maryland Center for History and Culture would be more interested in an exhibition on a history of Baltimore beauty parlors than, say, a display of rose-themed makeup, because their mission and collection have nothing to do with botany or natural history but is focused on the state of MD.  I think there are ways in which the Museum can engage with both the makeup and local communities, and become more diverse and inclusive in doing so.

Establish metrics for the Museum's collection and content and share them publicly.

To keep any organization accountable in their diversity and inclusion efforts, it's necessary to track measurable outcomes of said efforts.  Museums and Race's report card gave me the idea to develop one for the Museum based on the steps listed above.  It would be updated annually each January and indicate the progress or maintenance of goals, which are as follows: 

  • Increase the number of posts that focus on or incorporate BIPOC and LGBTQ+ makeup and related topics (for example, the "multicultural" makeup of the '90s).  Originally I wanted to follow U.S. demographics and keep a strict 60/40 split in which 40% of posts would be BIPOC-focused, with 18% Latinx topics/artists/brands, 15% Black, 6% Asian and 1% Indigenous. Alas, after crunching some numbers I realized that it would be impossible unless I both greatly scaled back the number of Asian-focused posts and hired or collaborated with BIPOC/LGBTQ+, and there's no telling if I will be able to achieve the latter.  So for now, I'm going to take stock of what was written in 2020 and plan on more diverse posts in 2021. In terms of Instagram, taking a cue from the 15% pledge, my goal is to ensure at least 15% of IG posts feature Black makeup history, artists, models or Black-owned brands.  I've been doing 11% since June (or 1 out of every 9 posts) and it has proved challenging. It's difficult because I don't want to repeat the same brands, models or artists ad nauseam and also want to provide meaningful and unique content, i.e. I don't want to toss up some ad that people have seen a thousand times before, especially without offering any new insight, just because I need to fill a quota that I set.  Representation is critical, but can easily veer into tokenism. Having said that, I'd still like for 1 post out of every 6 (or 17%) to have Black-focused content and I'm working on how I can do that without blindly regurgitating things that are readily available and well-known. I'm also going to count other topics towards this goal even if they don't show a Black model or brand.  For example, I have a bottle of Revlon's Touch and Glow foundation from the early 1950s in the deepest shade they made up until about 1957.  As you may have guessed, it's medium toned at best.  This is an example of how mainstream brands simply did not care about the needs of BIPOC customers, especially Black ones.  I'm still not sure how to handle other demographics, however; as noted above, Latinx and Indigenous brands, artists and topics are somehow more difficult to find than Black ones.  Nevertheless, Instagram makes it easy to track so I will take stock of 2020's posts and work on at least increasing the number of posts involving these groups.
  • Increase the number of Museum objects from BIPOC-owned brands.  I will keep track of what was acquired each year and work out the proportion of objects that came from BIPOC-owned brands.  Then monitor those numbers each year to ensure they increase.  For example, I purchased 22 makeup ads in 2020 and 6 of them were from Black-owned brands or featured Black models.  So this year, let's say I purchase 22 ads again, 7 or more of them should be from BIPOC-owned brands or feature BIPOC models.  The acquisition of objects from white-owned brands will still soundly outpace BIPOC-owned ones, especially for vintage pieces, but the goal is to increase that number and work towards a bigger percentage of BIPOC-owned objects in the collection.
  • Track the number of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people or organizations I reached out or donated to, along with community organizations.  While nothing may come of these attempts on my part to collaborate with them, I feel it's important to at least get in touch. And there are plenty of BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals and organizations that can use donations.
  • Ensure all exhibitions meaningfully represent BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals and brands, and if not, discuss why.

I think this sort of report card is more valuable than some bland diversity statement.  Most of the statements I found lacked substance - they were just a bunch of jargon with no actionable steps outlined.

The Museum's diversity efforts are ongoing, of course. And I plan on tackling the related topics of social change and accessibility as future installments of MM Musings. But this is a beginning of a shift towards meaningful action.  Thoughts?  I'm off to create a report card for 2020 so I will have something to compare 2021 to.