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January 27, 2023

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A Fed vice chair could become Biden’s top economist, European conservatives align themselves with Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, and Tracee Ellis Ross has been building her haircare brand for a decade. Have a relaxing weekend.


– Pattern recognition. Ten years ago—long before it began to seem that nearly every celebrity had a beauty brand—Tracee Ellis Ross saw an opportunity. Over the thousands of hours she spent in the hair and makeup chair as an actor, she didn’t see the kinds of products and tools she wanted for Black and textured hair. “There were things we did with our own hair in our own bathrooms that were not being supported with products,” she remembers.


Ross had a busy day job, but she couldn’t let go of that insight. She connected with some potential partners and investors but didn’t get any bites. “They didn’t understand why an actress would have anything to share in the hair space,” she says.


Instead, she used her own money to go to a chemist and find a manufacturer who could develop the hair products she envisioned. She chose one near her in Los Angeles and had her hypothesis confirmed. “I discovered that formulations were built on the efficacy of white hair, or straight and silky hair—not textured hair,” she says.


Tracee Ellis Ross, founder and CEO of Pattern Beauty. Courtesy of PATTERN

Leaning on the business-minded side of her brain she developed as an executive producer, she learned how to articulate to skeptical backers how much money they were leaving on the table and why she had the right expertise to execute her idea. She told them that “So many people in the curly, coily, and tight-texture community had not been serviced by the industry, to the point that we had all become our own best experts—including myself.” She shared her belief that “Haircare is a portal into our souls.”


By the time Ross connected with Beach House Group, the operational partners who ended up helping her build her company, she already had an initial product and a brand. They launched Pattern Beauty in late 2019.


Pattern sells hair products like conditioners, gels, and masks and accessories like satin caps and combs direct to consumers and through retail partners including Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Amazon.


This month, Pattern debuted a $189 hair dryer, its first heat tool. The process of creating that tool is much more complicated than developing perishable beauty products, requiring the company to commit to making a dryer before receiving its first sample. “To make something that plugs into a wall—it takes a really long time,” Ross says. But the payoff is worth it to her. “Heat is part of so many of our stories, and one of my dreams is that we reframe our relationship to it,” she says. “It’s a new frontier—the possibility that we can continue exploring our hair without damaging it.”


Ross holds the title of CEO at Pattern, and she’s a highly involved founder. “I got a lot of disappointment, but I never had a doubt,” she says of her 10-year journey. “[I knew] you should have access to your most beautiful self in your own bathroom.”


Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe


The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Kinsey Crowley curated today’s edition. Subscribe here.


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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES


- In the running. A likely candidate to become the White House's next head of the National Economic Council is Lael Brainard. The Federal Reserve vice chair was previously seen as a contender for treasury secretary at the start of the Biden administration. Washington Post


- Far-right alliances. European conservatives are making moves to strategically align with far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. She could help make up for the conservative power lost with Angela Merkel's resignation, but her anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigration stances complicate things. Politico


- Working 9-5. Young, high-earning men have cut their working hours the most of any social group since 2019. One lawyer says that new gender-equality expectations at home have made him work less. Wall Street Journal


- Now streaming. A docuseries based on Nikole Hannah-Jones's The 1619 Project was released on Hulu yesterday. In one episode, she introduces the audience to her family and her upbringing steeped in patriotism. ABC News


MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Arianna Huffington joined the board of Gloat, a career mobility platform. Political fundraising platform ActBlue hired Regina Wallace-Jones as CEO. Day Kornbluth has been named president of West Elm. Brie Olson has been appointed co-CEO of Pacsun. Katie Williams is now vice president at CoVenture. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT


- Depressed diagnosis. Depression often shows up differently in Black women, which can lead to underdiagnosis. The difference stems from Black women's instinct to "push through." Fortune


- Dads Caucus. Lawmakers have formed the first-ever Congressional Dads Caucus. About 15 Democratic congressmen will band together to discuss policies that help American families and support each other as parents. The four-day saga to elect the Republican speaker of the house helped give visibility to dads working on Capitol Hill and create the caucus. Washington Post


- Love, Pamela. A profile of Pamela Anderson reveals her perspective on surviving sexual assault and domestic violence, and how the recent Pam & Tommy series made her relive the trauma of having her sex tape leaked. Her upcoming documentary and memoir will share her own reflections on her life as she aims to reclaim the narrative. Variety


ON MY RADAR


Why I’m frustrated with white male nature writers The Atlantic


Natasha Lyonne is happier than ever Time


The abortion pill’s secret money men Mother Jones


How Sarah Thankam Mathews wrote her hit novel in four months Vulture



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PARTING WORDS


"I, at first, said I did it for the sisterhood. But actually, I did it for the sisterhood and the brotherhood."


Cynthia Marshall, telling Fortune's Susie Gharib why she took a job to fix the Dallas Mavericks' toxic culture. 


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