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Hi! I’m Sequoia Houston, the founder of Mocha Stock.
I’ve been a marketer for a decade now and I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the leading multinational organizations in the world. I currently work for myself as the owner of the Los Angeles-based agency, Sur-Ryl Marketing.
As a marketer, I’ve often found myself being one of a small number of people of color on my teams– if not the only one. Why does this matter? Well, when you’re working on world class campaigns designed to reach the masses, you quickly understand the impact that the makeup of a team has.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in the decision room, reviewing a campaign and was the only one who seemed to notice the lack of diversity – whether it was age, gender or race-based. More than once, I’ve had to raise my hand and point out the elephant in the room that somehow only I was able to see. This is where my passion for diversity and inclusion in marketing began and I have continued to cultivate it over the years. Even now, in my own agency, I consistently remind my team to consider the impact diversity has when we’re working to tell an authentic brand story.
To be fair, while these oversights are far from rare, failing to include diverse imagery isn’t always due simply to an oversight. Let me explain.
I recently designed a website for a client that was launching a mobile app and it was important to me to show a wide range of people using their cellphones and smiling with pleasure because the app was so easy to use. This sounds like an easy task until you start searching for the images. For giggles, I just pulled up one of my go-to stock photography websites and typed in “smiling woman on cell phone.” Over 1,500 images came back in my search. I set up my page so that the first 50 photos would show up. Of these 50, only 7 included any type of diversity at all. Of those 7, two were terrible and three simply didn’t fit the tone of the campaign. Of the two that fit our tone, one showed the young woman looking away from the phone and not engaging with it at all. That left only one viable option from fifty photos. Of the remaining forty-three photos that lacked diversity, twenty-two of them could have worked well for the project…and therein lies the issue.
Mocha Stock was launched. The goal of the marketplace is and always will be to provide brands with an authentic, diverse collection of high quality stock imagery that focuses on people of color.