Earlier this month, Law Roach — the renowned image architect behind many iconic looks, worn by Zendaya, Céline Dion, Ariana Grande and more — posted on his Instagram about putting aside $25,000 to help rebuild small, Black-owned businesses that have been affected by ongoing protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans.
"There was so much happening, and is still so much happening, in our world, in my culture and in my city, in Chicago. I just felt like I had to do something," Roach tells Fashionista, over the phone from Los Angeles. "I'm a big believer in that there's this huge global issue, then there's a U.S. issue — I can't solve the big problem, but what I can do is focus my efforts, my time, my energy and some of my money to a smaller microcosm of a big issue and start there, make change there."
His original post, from June 1, was in response to reports of Black-owned businesses that were damaged or looted during the protests. "I wanted to say: 'If that did happen, you have someone to help you rebuild. You have someone to support you,'" Roach says. He had someone on his team working on finding a partner that was "a true non-profit, someone that had the 501(c)(3) status, so that if people did donate, it would be tax-deductible."
That led him to partner with the Chicago-based organization Rebuild the Hood and officially launch the fLAWless Fundraiser on June 24. Its goal is to offer financial relief to small, Black-owned fashion and beauty businesses based in Chicago, "with a focus on those that did not have insurance or were denied coverage," according to its website.
"I just wanted to make sure that I did it the right way, something where the money could be traced back," Roach explains of working with Rebuild the Hood. "Because I knew I would lean on my friends, people I worked with and clients for the money. I wanted to make sure there would be a true trail of where their money went and how it helped someone."
Less than 24 hours after Roach shared the link for the fundraiser, it was most of the way to its $100,000 goal, with contributions from actor Jameela Jamil (a client) and designer Christian Siriano (a frequent collaborator).
"That first initial post three weeks ago was out of frustration and love. Right away, people were like, 'I want to support. Send me the link. How do I donate?' I was literally overwhelmed — I know I say that jokingly a lot, but the amount of support I got so quickly... It's so beautiful," he says. "To think that people believe in me enough to contribute to something I believe in is really beautiful."
The next step for the fLAWless Fundraiser, Roach explains, is "to do what I set out to do, which is help a few businesses — however many I can, depending on need — rebuild." Beyond that, he stresses the importance of everyone, from himself, to the people who contributed to the fund, to the general public, making sure to support Black-owned businesses regularly. He's personally made an effort to patronize Black-owned restaurants in his day-to-day and has discovered Black-owned home brands, like Estelle Colored Glass, that he's excited to shop. He's also thinking about how this commitment can translate to his work on the red carpet.
"Even in my own business, I've been really fortunate to build a reputation as a celebrity stylist and image architect that really seeks out and helps push smaller brands and independent designers to the mainstream and to elevate those businesses," Roach says. "I've been really proud of that, but looking back, I didn't really do that enough for Black designers and Black-owned brands. For me, that has to be something that I push more to the forefront."
"I've done really well to elevate a few brands, especially in 2019 — with Peter Do, Christopher Esber and a couple of other ones," he continues. "In hindsight, I wish I would've made a little bit more effort to make sure that I did that for Black designers."
Other stylists can make a similar effort by "paying more attention and deliberately doing things you know will positively affect whoever that is," Roach says. "If you're paying attention, you'll see where the deficit is, you'll see where things need to be changed. Then you'll just focus your time, energy, resources, love, sweat, tears to moving whatever that is forward."
When the fLAWless Fundraiser hits the $100,000 donation mark, Roach and Rebuild the Hood plan on sharing how eligible businesses can apply for the grants. (He says a few have already reached out. People can sign up for updates via an inquiry form on the fundraiser page.) "I'm going to ask that people send me a video explaining who they are, what their business is, what happened and what their needs are and I'll go from there," he explains, in regards to next steps.
Beyond providing cash to businesses who have been dealing with loss of inventory or physical damage, Roach tells Fashionista he also plans to provide himself as a resource. "And I have a couple of other friends in the industry that are willing to donate their time and resources for branding."
He goes on to explain how the fLAWless Fundraiser is "growing in a way where it may even become an incubator for small Black businesses. When you put an idea like this out into the universe, Roach notes, "it's incredible to see what comes back."