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The Future Of Beauty: “AI Can Help You Choose Your Correct Color Shade” With Kerry Yates of Colour Collective

“Being a strong woman does not mean that you need to act like a man it just means you need to act like a better woman”. I was very lucky to have three generations of strong, independent women in my life starting with my great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mother. They all taught me to embrace your family, build a true network of friends, be kind instead of cruel, pursue every educational opportunity, bring another woman up as you succeed and never step on anyone to get ahead.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerry Yates.

Kerry is an accomplished inventor of brands, creator of concepts and a recognized expert of beauty in every form. Her love of beauty started at F.I.T., where she graduated with a B.S. in Cosmetic, Fragrance and Toiletries Marketing. She was featured in WWD at the age of 22 as a beauty leader to watch and held various leadership roles. Yates has created many of the recognizable brands found at Revlon, LVMH, L’Oreal and Unilever. Passionate about the beauty industry, Yates has over +20 years of beauty experience with 15 years focused on marketing and developing brands within the hair category. Uniquely experienced, she created, Colour Collective, a company with a tailored, seamless approach to the design, develop and delivery process at the heart of bringing a product to market. Colour Collective’s mission is simple, bring to life beauty brands that disrupt the market.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Originally, I set out to become a fashion designer. While attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC, I worked part-time at the Clinique counter to help pay for college. I fell in love with the world of beauty. Key reason, beauty products fit every size, budget and person; this category is all-inclusive which is different from fashion. FIT recently started a program dedicated to creating beauty products in 1989. As a result, I decided to change my major and graduated in 1992 and have been working in beauty ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One experience that really sticks out for me happened at the Essence Awards many moons ago. I was working for Revlon assisting with the Colour style brand. As we were sponsoring the event, I was given access to the various award winners which means I got to meet the fierce and fabulous Rosa Parks. I was awestruck, Rose Parks was beautiful, stunning, friendly, welcoming and surprisingly quite small for a woman that in my mind is larger than life. I was honestly so awestruck I could not speak clearly….I basically just stared at her with my mouth hanging open as I was gripping her hand for dear life. Ms. Parks took pity on me and just laughed the whole thing off. Amazing woman and an inspirational figure for me to this day!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Starting out I had a tendency to second guess myself especially when it came to speaking out during meetings or in trying to communicate my to a room filled with experienced beauty geniuses. At 24, I thought how lucky I was to just be invited into the meeting and was so sure that anything coming from my mouth would be considered stupid; I literally had no confidence in my abilities. But that changed for me after I was forced to present my budget proposal to Bernard Arnault. The Christian Dior Perfumes’ marketing director left right before the budget presentation and the VP pushed me to proceed in her stead. My nerves were shot but I excelled and after that, I realized I was hired for my own skillset. After that successful meeting, I was given additional responsibilities that led to new projects and opportunities.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There were two amazing women that taught me valuable lessons along the way. The first woman was Caroline Geerlings, VP of Marketing at Christian Dior Perfumes. I want to thank her for instilling the need to keep everything real and for reminding me that it is perfectly okay to not know an answer to a question. More importantly she was the one that put me in front of Mr. Arnault which in turn gave me a big confidence boost. The second woman I must thank is Jerri Baccus Glover, SR VP of Marketing at Revlon. Jerri gave me my start in the industry, allowed me to participate in projects that at the time would have been considered above my “paygrade”. As a result, I gained experience not only in marketing but also was able to participate and eventually lead in product development, sales and education. Jerri ensured my experience was well rounded which allowed me to easily move into leadership roles within the beauty industry.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I have been working a lot with AI technology and love the way people can now assess product results especially when it comes to choosing the right hair color. Home hair color users have continually struggled with shade choices and this new technology allows them to flawlessly find the shade based on their starting colour and hair type. This technology even takes it one step further by guiding the user through the application process ensuring the end-users feels fabulous with their results. Our hair defines who we are and how we feel and having a bad hair experience can really impact a person’s confidence and overall feeling of self.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I think some AI technologies can give you a false sense of self, presenting an unrealistic picture of how you could look with their product that is really not achievable. Instead of showing what is truly possible, the different techs show you an idea that the product cannot deliver which leaves the user feeling deflated and upset with the results. However, I do not think we should give up on technology. It is continually changing and improving at a rapid pace and in the future. I can see AI technologies directing product choice and potential product formulation on the spot. I would not be surprised if one day there is a mirror/instant product creator that will assess our current appearance, then based on a chosen look within the program will physically create the needed product to create the look. Taking it even further what if there was a product that contained super nano-sized screens that when applied transmit the desired look onto your face. Crazy as it sounds I think it could be a reality.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

Effective Beauty Tools: Love the new beauty tools that work in partnership with a product to improve product efficacy. This saves on product waste and ensures the users sees the most out of their product of choice.

Remote Beauty Consultations: Honestly not a big fan of the malls so I love the idea that I can receive real advice remotely as it pertains to shade choices, product formulas etc. The consultants are either real people or AI-generated consultants, but they are available when you need them vs. only being available during store hours. In addition, in some cases they are more knowledgeable then the consultants you might find in store.

Beauty Printer: Have not seen a truly working beauty printer but I know they are in the development. I would love to be able to create a shade on-demand or adjust my skincare product to support what my skin may be experiencing/needing that day. I know the technology is coming and I cannot wait!

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Factual Claims: It bothers me that we, as beauty inventors get a bit overzealous with our claims. Unreal claims like those related to natural beauty are just not real and as a result make consumer skeptical. As an industry, we need to do a better job of keeping it real.

Unreal Imagery: Snapchat design overlays have become real physical elements to permanently add to your skin. The applications of these permanent elements can be dangerous and there should be a more rigorous understanding of long-term implications as well as a set of rules to keep the user safe.

In the Kitchen Formulators: This is a real thing as selling platforms like ETSY embrace the kitchen beauty expert. Unfortunately, these formulas can contain unsafe levels of allergens or low levels of preservatives to maintain product safety. As an industry we should provide better education to kitchen formulators to ensure what they create is safe for their end-user. I do not want to limit their opportunities but there must be some way we can be sure their users are protected. Poorly formulated beauty products can lead to a serious skin or eye infections.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Smile: I know it sounds crazy but just the act of smiling immediately brightens your face, lifts your eyes and your jawline. Plus, it just feels good to smile!

Get a Blowout: Talk about an instant confidence boost. I always feel gorgeous after having a proper blowout. Only a professional can deliver smooth super shiny locks that make me just want to swing my hair like a Pantene model!

Have a makeover: I know the makeup counter girls can be daunting but they are skilled makeup artists and sometimes you just need to make a change. Next time you find yourself at the beauty counter, ask to visit with a makeup artist, give them a budget and let them work their magic. I have found many a new way to apply my eyeshadow in addition to embracing a new blush shade that really has livened up my appearance!

Gift yourself a facial: There is nothing better than having a facial as they help to give your skin a bit of a reset. I find periodically my skin will have a few more bumps or sections of my skin are overly dry and I cannot seem to correct either challenge with my home products. An esthetician can help define the challenges, assist in fixing the issues on the spot and prescribe products for the long-term. Facials can be expensive so if you are on a budget try volunteering at one of the beauty schools. I had a friend take me over to the Aveda School which I have to stay was stunning. It was like walking into a very high-end spa and my esthetician was brilliant.

Buy some new lipstick/nail enamel: Sometimes a pop of color is all I need to give myself a little pep in my step. Corny phrase I know but seriously for under $10 I can instantly feel uplifted with a quick beauty treat.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Comment Police: I know there are rules and bots that help control content on the internet. However, it is doing a very poor job of stopping the bullying comments. I really wish there was an element on the various social media platforms that will instantly delete any hateful comment that users will inevitably receive within their page feeds. Online bullying has gotten out of control and I am tired of young people being terrorized by faceless bullies. Enough is enough. If we cannot make comment police a reality then perhaps we can as individuals be sure to offer a compliment to a minimum of one person every day. Letting someone know that you think they are fabulous could really make a difference in that person’s life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Being a strong woman does not mean that you need to act like a man it just means you need to act like a better woman”. I was very lucky to have three generations of strong, independent women in my life starting with my great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mother. They all taught me to embrace your family, build a true network of friends, be kind instead of cruel, pursue every educational opportunity, bring another woman up as you succeed and never step on anyone to get ahead.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow my company on Facebook or Instagram at colourcollectivebeauty



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