Tarte is in the process of “reviewing” its creator program to make changes for diversity and inclusion, said the brand’s CEO, Maureen Kelly, in a new TikTok video.
“I take full responsibility for a TikTok video that I posted responding to claims by a respected and valued Tarte creator,” Kelly said in the video released on May 9. She was referring to her initial response to a controversy that ensued over the past week after a Black influencer spoke out about canceling participation in a Tarte brand trip, stating she had been treated like a “second-tier person” when the invitations were sent out.
“My choosing a lighthearted approach to a topic that deserved a serious response was definitely a wrong approach. I should have used this as an opportunity to address the unequal treatment of Black creators within beauty creator programs. My post came across as me not taking the issue seriously and I’m really sorry for that,” said Kelly.
The TikTok post that Kelly apologized for was a “get-ready-with-me”-style TikTok video posted on May 5 in which she responded to criticisms over treatment of BIPOC influencers on two recent Tarte trips. This came after influencer Bria Jones (@heybriajones) stated in a viral TikTok video on May 4 that she had decided not to attend the brand’s trip to the F1 races in Miami, stating that being excluded from the main F1 race day made it feel like she was being “ranked” and the trip felt like a “sorority situation.” This came after controversy over the brand’s Turks and Caicos trip in April, when commenters on TikTok noticed that Sri Lanken influencer Cynthia Victor’s (@shawtysin) hotel room was smaller than those of other influencers on the trip.
Kelly announced that starting now, the brand is reviewing its creator program to make sure it is “inclusive and equitable,” while “updating it regularly to make sure we reflect changes that happen within the beauty influencer market.”
“We’ll take immediate action whenever we find inequalities or errors within our program,” she said, adding, “We’re also going to be more transparent about how we work with our creators including how we choose them.”
She also stated, “I acknowledge that we have fallen short in issues of diversity, inclusion and equity in the past.”
In 2020, influencers spoke out about a range of inequalities they had been seeing in the industry, including pay gaps, a lack of diversity in campaigns and tokenism. Beauty brands and retailers responded with pledges and programs to address these issues.
According to a report by NBC, Tarte’s next steps will be hiring a DEI specialist and establishing a creator advisory group. A Tarte representative said via email that more details are not yet available.
The F1 trip incident sparked an outcry and drama on TikTok over the past week, with a deluge of videos being posted by influencers and regular users weighing in with their thoughts on the situation. This included several Black influencers who went on the trip and shared differing opinions about the decision to go, prompting a wave of stitched videos and debate on the platform.
Earlier this week, Jones deleted her original video and released a new TikTok video stating that there was “miscommunication on both ends” about the trip. She said that she’d talked with the Tarte team and that they were “on the same page.” She also called on her fans to stop harassing three other Black influencers who had gone on the trip and posted their thoughts about the situation.
Tarte’s influencer trips have been receiving a great deal of attention on TikTok, with the brand’s earlier Dubai trip sparking discussion over its lavish amenities and the costs associated.