Black Business Month
From Engineering to 25 Black Women in Beauty with Ella Gorgla
“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” — Dr. Mae Jemison
Black women can do it all and Ella Gorgla is yet another testament to this truth. Beginning in engineering and pivoting to the beauty space, Ella has carved a dynamic career for herself. “My engineering degree armed me with a certain level of confidence when tackling complex business problems. If I can survive fluid thermodynamics, I can survive anything,” the former Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives & Corporate Innovation at Estee Lauder Companies asserts. Starting her career in management and strategy consulting with top firms, she was trained to solve complex problems seamlessly. This turned out to be a skillset that is relevant to all industries, including beauty and luxury retail. This made the pivot to the beauty world quite natural – she was able to apply the discipline and knowledge she learned to an industry she was already obsessed with.
Ella wasn’t satisfied with simply shifting industries – she saw a path to disrupt the industry entirely with 25 Black Women in Beauty (25BWB). 25 BWB is a mission-driven initiative, one that focuses on celebrating and elevating Black women in beauty. Founded by Ella, alongside her elite beauty colleague Cara Sabin, CEO at Sundial Brands, 25 Black Women in Beauty created immense impact from the jump. Their first event was packed, with everyone from celebrities to beauty industry veterans joined around one dinner table. The symbolism of “having a seat at the table” was rewritten with the reality of Black women joining to dine at a new table entirely.
“My goal is to evolve 25BWB into a high caliber, high functioning platform driven by two things: To celebrate Black Women in Beauty and to elevate Black Women in Beauty,” Ella explains. With her strategic and analytical skills shining through, she continues by saying, “To elevate Black women in corporate America, we look to partner with brands, identify senior leadership opportunities and place Black women in those roles. We’ve already been engaged by leading brands to provide diverse candidates for board seats and other high-level positions. To elevate Black women entrepreneurs, we highlight them on our platform year-round, communicate opportunities for funding and grants and, in time, will deploy a suite of resources specifically for the beauty entrepreneur such as product development, retailers, and mentorship.”
Ella’s career is more than a highlight reel and she isn’t afraid to share her truth. She recently wrote about her painful experiences dealing with inequities, microaggressions, and bias in the workplace for 25BWB in an article titled, Black Women have been Traumatized in the Workplace. Though systemic racism is something that is out of Ella’s hands, she is an active participant in creating a new narrative for Black women in business through the creation of 25BWB. She has two pieces of advice to share for other Black women in beauty. “First – your time is now. Own it. Second – join us at 25BWB.org.”