Rolling Out

Science of beauty event helps young girls explore STEM

Sakeya Donaldson introduces African American girls to high-paying careers that are underrepresented in the beauty industry.
Science of beauty event helps young girls explore STEM
The Science of Beauty attendees / Photo courtesy of Sakeya Donaldson

The educational and wealth gap in the Black community limits young adults from accessing resources to fulfill meaningful careers. Fly Girl Approved CEO Sakeya Donaldson acknowledged the gap issue by providing a program for minority girls ages 10-17 to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers in an achievable realm.

Donaldson has a stellar resume in fashion and beauty which began after she graduated from Clark Atlanta University. In the following years, she partnered with her aunt, who founded STEM Xposure, a non-profit organization exposing students to STEM careers, to create the Science of Beauty program.

Partners for this six-day program included Chanel, Neiman Marcus, AT&T, and more. The attendees were gifted with beauty items and products and were shown how they were developed. These luxury brands are compiled with scientists, dermatologists, and strategists who create products and market them to different people. Donaldson shared some sentiments from this camp with rolling out and how fulfilling this experience has been in her career.

What does a day with The Science of Beauty program look like?

The program was for six days, hosted at the Glacier Children’s Museum, located in downtown Tampa, Florida.  The focus was on a different space in the beauty industry each day. We focused on skincare, hair, makeup, and the body. I also incorporated a business day because it’s one thing to be able to make a product and have an idea, but how will you get that to the consumers? We talked about branding, sales, and distribution. It was a brief period that I had the girls, but I think it was able to spark a lot of interest. 

Can you share a takeaway from a participant in the program? 

One of our sponsors was Neiman Marcus of Tampa. So, they came in on skincare day along with Chanel and did a presentation. One of the young girls’ grandmothers had volunteered that day, and I noticed she looked a little perplexed during the presentation. I asked if she was okay, and she shared how she couldn’t even go into a store like Neiman Marcus during her day because she wasn’t allowed. Jim Crow and segregation were the real thing and still are. All little girls love skincare and makeup, and for it to turn into something like this, it was beyond my wildest dreams.

What are some highlights of your career?

The Science of Beauty program.  Securing Fortune 500 sponsors like Neiman Marcus, Chanel, and AT&T. They saw the value and made me know that the sky is the limit. Since then, Joe Malone and MAC have also hopped on board as a sponsor. Also, a project I worked on about 20 years ago with XXL was a career highlight. Jay-Z took over as head of Def Jam, so the photoshoot consisted of him in the oval office. Lebron James, Foxy Brown, and Kanye were there, and just being on that set with that caliber of people made me feel like a huge deal.

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