*In 2006, visionarist Andrea Hoffman saw a need to celebrate the accomplishments of “people from diverse backgrounds who have achieved success within their respective industries and yet take their success to the next level by progressing and influencing diversity and multicultural business agendas and positive social impact in the world.” So she founded Diversity Affluence. “Diversity Affluence is committed to raising awareness of affluent and influential ethnic consumers and related executives and brands that acknowledge them,” explained Hoffman.
As the boutique company’s founder and CEO, Hoffman took the brand to the next level – hosting an annual event to celebrate and acknowledge multicultural tastemakers. On Sunday, July 28, 2013, Diversity Affluence hosted its 4th annual Diversity Affluence Brunch & Awards gala at the tony B. Smith’s Restaurant in Sag Harbor, NY for 125 affluent African American guests. “Our brunch celebrates the far reaching contributions of the incredible honorees and gives guests the opportunity to engage with affluent ethnic influencers, business and community leaders, upscale sponsors and multicultural tastemakers,” stated Hoffman.
Over 125 hand-selected affluent African American guests came by yacht, rail and Mercedes to salute this year’s exemplary honorees that included Robert F. Smith, chairman & CEO of Vista Equity Partners, Alek Wek, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, author & supermodel, and Aaron P. Dworkin, founder & president of the Sphinx Organization.
This year a corporate honoree, M•A•C Cosmetics was added. “M•A•C Cosmetics is richly deserving of this award for their unwavering commitment in celebrating ‘the beauty of everyone.’ Their philanthropic & social impact passions influence positive change & positive outcomes. They make the world take notice,” stated Hoffman. John Demsey, group president, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., attended on behalf of M•A•C Cosmetics.
The brunch began with an exclusive Moet & Chandon Champagne toast hosted by Hoffman aboard the 42 ft Wider Yacht moored alongside B. Smith’s for the honorees and sponsors Marriott International, Barclays, The Estée Lauder Companies, Baume & Mercier, Belvedere Vodka, Black Gives Back and Collective.
B. Smith’s trendy restaurant is the pride of Sag Harbor. It’s the “in” place where the town’s “it” people go to eat and drink and rub shoulders with other privilege people. It’s also the place where you will find NYC’s chic fashionistas on the restaurant’s spacious deck sipping champagne as they enjoy an enchanting view of glamorous yachts moored outside the fabulous watering hole — a sight that is often compared to the beauty and serenity of St. Tropez.
As guests arrived for the cocktail hour they were greeted by impeccable waiters who served fancy finger foods and specialty libations by Belvedere Vodka. And as they took their seats they were delightfully surprised as in front of each formal placement was a stunning signature black M•A•C Cosmetics box filled with expensive cosmetics, and an invitation from the Marriott for Platinum Elite Status in their award winning Marriott Rewards program, for one year. This set the tone for an amazing affair.
A sumptuous brunch was served and guests had a choice of crab croquettes, Frito misto, farm stand salad (appetizer); cinnamon French toast, eggs Benedict, classic lobster roll, or grilled tuna salad nicoise (entrée); chocolate chip bread pudding or key lime pie (dessert). Belvedere Bloody Mary, Belvedere Royalton and Chandon Mimosa were served throughout brunch.
While enjoying their meal and networking with tablemates, Diversity Affluence partner Noel Hankin led guests in a toast to the honorees before turning the program over to award winning actor Malik Yoba who served as emcee and introduced the honorees and sponsors Tom Lee, head of global banking for Barclays, and Kristine Friend, senior director, segment marketing for Marriott International who delivered high-spirited remarks. Each honoree spoke briefly about their individual journey and concluded with high praise for Diversity Affluence before being gifted with expensive Baume & Mercier watches presented by Rudy Chavez, North American president of the luxury watch brand.
Other highlights of the illustrious event included thoughtful personal notes sent by Mrs. Ethel Kennedy on behalf of the Robert F Kennedy Center to Robert F. Smith and by fashion guru Diane von Furstenberg to Alek Wek. Actress Tichina Arnold rocked the house with a special performance of “The Impossible Dream” that she dedicated to the honorees.
In her closing remarks, Hoffman benevolently thanked the honorees, sponsors & guests. “Diversity Affluence is committed to raising awareness of affluent and influential ethnic consumers and related executives and brands that acknowledge them,” stated Hoffman. “Affluence provides the means for influence and influence provides the means for impact. Progress in multicultural initiatives and social impact is everyone’s business.”
The brunch culminated with a surprise video presented by Hoffman from President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton who acknowledged the honorees for their philanthropic endeavors and non-wavering commitment to social change. The surprise words from Bill rocked the house!
(Photos by Stephen Knight)
About Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners LLC. Vista was founded and manages equity capital commitments of approximately $6.6 billion. For the past 12 plus years, Vista has consistently performed in the top decile of PE returns with a gross IRR of 47% and a return on realized investments of 4.1x cash on cash, since inception. Vista currently manages and controls (18) software companies with over 18,500 employees worldwide. Prior to founding Vista, Mr. Smith worked for Goldman Sachs, M&A, from 1994 to 2000, in New York and Silicon Valley. As co-head of Enterprise Systems and Storage, he executed and advised on over $50B in merger and acquisition activity with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Ebay and Yahoo, amongst others. Smith’s business achievements and global philanthropic works have received recognition from numerous entities. Smith is currently vice chair and board chair elect of the Robert F. Kennedy Center, Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, and a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. He was awarded his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and his MBA from Columbia Business School.
About Alek Wek
Elle magazine took a risk by featuring dark-skinned, Sudanese model, Alek Wek, on the cover of their November 1997 issue. However, the result was a monumental number of reader responses and letters-to-the-editor from both women and men who were ecstatic to see different standards of beauty in the fashion industry. Oprah later commented to Alek on her show, “If you’d been on the cover of a magazine when I was growing up, I would have had a different concept of who I was.” The supermodel was born in Southern Sudan and raised as a part of the Dinka tribe. At fourteen, she was forced to flee to London to escape the civil war. She was soon discovered at a London street fair and quickly rose to the top of the modeling industry. Alek speaks in New York area schools to bring attention to the famine in Southern Sudan and to educate children on the importance of nourishment and has also launched the Bracelet of Life campaign in conjunction with Medicins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders. Alek also works closely with AIDS awareness benefits, children’s charities, and breast cancer research. In July 2012, Alek embarked on her first mission with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), traveling back to her native land of South Sudan, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of the new nation.
About Aaron P. Dworkin
Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a former member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Aaron P. Dworkin is the founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, the leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in classical music. An author, social entrepreneur, artist-citizen and an avid youth education advocate, he has received extensive national recognition for his vast accomplishments. As founder and president of The Sphinx Organization, he has built an infrastructure and led fundraising efforts totaling over 14 million dollars overseeing a staff and faculty of more than 40. With over $150,000 in prizes and scholarships awarded annually, the Sphinx Competition showcases the top young musicians of color of the highest artistic caliber and features top professional minority musicians through the all Black and Latino Sphinx Symphony. Dr. Dworkin received his Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, graduating with high honors. He attended the Peabody Institute, the Philadelphia New School and the Interlochen Arts Academy, studying with Vladimir Graffman, Berl Senofsky, Jascha Brodsky, John Eaken, Renata Knific, Donald Hopkins and Stephen Shipps.
About M•A•C Cosmetics
Estee Lauder’s M•A•C Cosmetics line, developed 29 years ago to serve “various ethnic groups,” is creating a retail presence in “nations such as Nigeria, where Western-style retailers are so scarce that wealthy shoppers must go abroad to purchase many upmarket brands.” The strategy actually dates back to 2008 when M•A•C Cosmetics opened a store in Paris’s traditional working-class Strasbourg-St. Denis neighborhood. “No one in prestige business in their right mind had ever considered doing such a thing,” says Estee Lauder Group President John Demsey. However, “wealthy Nigerian travelers discovered that store, where the company says 95 percent of customers are of African origin or descent. It became one of the company’s top stores in France and helped fuel the brand’s popularity back in Nigeria.” Keep in mind that “68 percent of Nigerians live on $1.25 or less a day,” so ” M•A•C Cosmetics sells mainly what it calls ‘entry level prestige’ at its Lagos store.” The brand also donates “100 percent of sales from its Viva Glam lipstick” to its own AIDS charity, which resonates “in a country where HIV is epidemic.” Since 1994, M•A•C Cosmetics has raised $280 million for the charity. Demsey says M•A•C Cosmetics is the “biggest play for the corporation, period, in terms of market development.”
New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets. Contact her via: [email protected]