Elaine Welteroth is the former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, a judge on Bravo’s Project Runway and best-selling author. Currently, Elaine is hosting #Buy Black Friday on Facebook which is produced by Will Smith’s company Westbrook. Through this show, Welteroth and Facebook are celebrating and supporting Black-owned businesses and communities with a live shopping show available on both Facebook and Instagram every Friday in November.
Being new to the investor ethos Welteroth has partnered with Public to help lower the barriers of entry for BIPOC and women investors through sit-downs with industry experts and investors.
In this interview with For(bes) The Culture she talks about leveling the playing field for BIPOC investors, her new show on Facebook #BuyBlack Friday and her impact on Project Runway.
For(bes) The Culture: Currently, you are hosting a MasterClass. Would you be able to offer any tidbits of advice to those reading this interview about how to create a space for your brand?
Elaine Welteroth: In the MasterClass, you will discover how to design your career, diversify your career opportunities, and avoid being stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfill you. You should feel free to design a career that is aligned with your values, passions, and abilities. It is no longer necessary to choose one career path and stay on it for thirty to fifty years before you retire with a pension. This Masterclass is geared toward anyone looking to get more out of their career, whether they are just entering the workforce or you are in the middle of a pandemic when industries are collapsing and you’re not sure where to focus. It provides a framework for identifying your passion, your purpose and putting those things at the forefront of your career search. If you’re a leader, it’s about helping your team identify their jump zone of genius, so they can operate from a place of power, conviction and purpose. I want to make sure that as many people as possible feel empowered to design a career that may not be conventional. Because right now those are the people that are thriving.
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For(bes) The Culture: You’ve partnered with Facebook on a show called #BuyBlack Friday. How did this partnership begin? What is the significance and structure of his programming?
Elaine Welteroth: It feels so good to partner with like-minded black people who are interested in building a platform that’s about building wealth within our community. I can’t even tell you how good it feels to be on set with people who look like you who share your values. This is something that Facebook piloted last year after the call to action following George Floyd’s murder when many companies were being held accountable for changing their practices on taking action to end systemic racism. #BuyBlack Friday is a variety show that meets a shoppable platform. You have a mix of sit-down interviews with black founders, product demonstrations, live music and games. It’s dynamic and fun. the audience is introduced to a curated mix of brand Black-owned brands and black founders that they may not know about. You also get to sit down with people like Lori Harvey, who you do know as a face in the public eye, but you don’t know her as a business owner. So, get to know that side of her and shop her products while you’re at it. If you are a customer who is shopping with intention and want to be deliberate about where your dollars are going, this is the perfect platform for you. Ultimately, You’re getting to know the person behind the brand and you’re getting to virtually test out the products and buy in real-time. It’s just interactive and fun. I think initiatives like #BuyBlack Friday hold companies accountable for the promises that they made in the summer of 2020. And I think this is just a beautiful kind of outgrowth of what can happen when when we don’t let up. It feels really good to be a part of this show.
For(bes) The Culture: In your partnership with Public, you’re helping BIPOC investors. Can you speak more about this partnership?
Elaine Welteroth: I’ll be having conversations with folks who can break down the basics of investing for early investors, like myself. I just started to invest as of summer 2020. I think we need to start having conversations about breaking down some of these barriers in terms of opportunities and access to information around investing. A lot of us at best understand the importance of saving, but the school system fails us by not taking on the responsibility of talking to us about what is financial literacy is. I always saw investing as this insular boys club. Where if you don’t know the right people or if you’re not already in those networks then you’re missing out on information and access to opportunities. We need to start changing how we talk about investing within our community. This will break down some of those barriers. We also need to work to onboard younger BIPOC investors who can feel confident starting with what they have and where they’re at. My goal is to take young investors of color on this journey of investing with me and learning with me as I grow myself. Let’s grow and build wealth together. My wealth strategy over time is finding the right strategic equity partnerships that allow me to participate in the value that I bring an entity. And I want more young people who are operating in this influencer economy to start thinking that way. So, this is my first equity deal and I’m excited to partner with Public on getting this message of financial literacy out there to people who are like me.
For(bes) The Culture: As a judge on Project Runway, you occupy a space in fashion that has the opportunity to open doors. How does Project Runway create a platform that supports BIPOC designers?
This is the most diverse cast of designers that the show has ever had. First of all, prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the casting is where it starts and giving people opportunities to showcase their talent. Because we know that talent is equally distributed, opportunities are not. I’m proud to be on a show that prioritizes leveling the playing field and making sure that people who aren’t afforded those traditional opportunities in an industry as exclusive as fashion have the chance to showcase their talent. Fashion is exclusive by design, and some gatekeepers keep it that way. But Project Runway is about breaking down barriers to opportunity for people who don’t have access to traditional big breaks in fashion. I’m happy to be a part of a show that embraces the intersection of fashion, identity and politics. The way I see my role on that show is expanding that intersection of where we can bring in cultural conversations, and explore these designers’ cultural identities and backgrounds. That’s why I’m there because those are the conversations I’m interested in having. And I think those are the conversations that the consumer is interested in having as well. I think this is a generation of, shoppers who want to know, who is making the clothing, and how is it being made. People are shopping with their values in mind now more than ever, so we’re mindful of that in how we produce the show.
You Can watch #BuyBlack Friday Hosted by Elaine on Facebook this Black Friday. If you are interested in learning about investing you can watch Elaine’s first Public live on November 30th. If you are interested in pursuing investing with Elaine Public is giving away fifty dollars of free stock to new members using the code ELAINE.