In a first pitch competition of this kind, which aims to increase diversity in the beauty industry, nine founders from black and brown are taking part in a virtual event launched by Black Girls Ventures, Rare Beauty Brands and Ulta Beauty.
The winner of the BGV x RBB Beauty Pitch competition will receive a distribution contract on Ulta.com next year, business support from running Rare Beauty Brands, and some good old-fashioned cash prizes. All finalists will have access to the BGV Connect Incubator, which provides resources to build their community, capital, and capacity through webinars, virtual pitch training, and VC feedback sessions.
"We are excited to facilitate this unique competition to support the beauty founders of Black and Brown," Shelly Bell, founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures, said in a statement. "Our partnership with Rare Beauty Brands and Ulta Beauty gives our founders better visibility, access to funding, business mentoring, product distribution, and access to our incubator platform to grow their businesses in the beauty industry."
The nine finalists of the black and brown women who competed are:
Gianne Doherty, Bio-Bath Co., Boston
Organic Bath Co. believes in simple self-care: Mindful moments, peaceful thoughts and taking care of your skin from the outside in. We know what you put on your body is as important as what you put into it – that's why we created an award-winning bath and body line that uses only organic and natural ingredients that are safe, effective and are easy to use. Our products are an invitation to slow down and pamper yourself. Take care of your skin. Enhance Your Natural Beauty. Have confidence that what you are using is clean and not complicated.
Aja Frierson, Habit Cosmetics, Malibu, CA.
Aja created Habit in 2013 when she couldn't find a nail polish brand that had everything she was looking for: a clean formula that was good for her nails, with beautiful on-trend colors and sustainable packaging that looked great on her bathroom counter. After two years of development, Habit was finally born. Habit Cosmetics is a vegan and cruel, non-toxic and sustainably packaged makeup brand with an emphasis on high-performance multitasking formulas.
Chinonye Acunne, ILERA Pharmacist, Detroit
Chinonye was born the son of Nigerian immigrants and was very proud of their Igbo culture. Through her studies and experience in preventing exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace, she has reinforced her passion for developing holistic skin care products to protect and revitalize the skin and body. ILERA Apothecary was founded in 2015 with the aim of producing herbal skin care products of the highest quality and ethically sound ingredients.
LaToya stirrups, KAZMALEJE, Miami
In her 16 years of experience, LaToya led teams through the process of brainstorming, creating, developing and launching to bring advertising campaigns and projects to life for some of the largest global brands. In 2016 she started her own brand KAZMALEJE. From innovative hair tools to stylish cosmetic / travel bags and casual clothing to fashionable home accessories, KAZMALEJE creates tools and accessories that improve the lifestyle and give women, men and children the opportunity to pamper and groom themselves with love, care and style.
Kim Roxie, LAMIK Beauty, Houston
After her mother passed away in 2014, Kim's mission became to provide women of color with access to safe, natural beauty products. LAMIK started out as a local makeup store and now offers clean color cosmetics for women in color who in the past have marketed more toxic makeup options than their counterparts. LAMIK transforms the standard of beauty with makeup made from safe, natural and organic ingredients.
Kitiya King, Mischo Beauty, Washington, D.C.
While pregnant with her son, Kitiya was relentlessly looking for chic, richly colored paint that would do no harm to her or her unborn baby. With a degree in chemistry and licenses in cosmetology, aesthetics, and makeup arts, Kitiya was well equipped for the challenge ahead – filling the void of luxurious, non-toxic nail polish in the beauty landscape. In 2013, Mischo Beauty was among the daring to revolutionize a highly toxic segment of beauty – nail polish – infamous for formulas containing synthetic chemicals and endocrine disruptors. Mischo Beauty is committed to the philosophy of doing no harm when it comes to innovations in the entire beauty landscape.
Takia Ross, Accessmatized LLC d.b.a. KiKi Thunda Cosmetics, Baltimore
Takia is a professional make-up artist and owner of Accessmatized Make-Up Artistry and KiKi Thunda Cosmetics, a small-volume cosmetics company founded in 2013. Busy professional women looked for straightforward lip products that they could rely on to help them make a statement without saying a word. In response, she developed KiKi Thunda products, a line of highly pigmented, long-lasting, water-resistant, smudge-proof, liquid, matte lipsticks.
Angela Fields, CurlyCoilyTresses, Tampa Bay, Fla.
Angela founded CurlyCoilyTresses in 2014 to bring fragrance-free hair care options to people with naturally textured hair. The difference between CurlyCoilyTresses®® lies in the following products: Effective, enriching, ultra-nourishing structured hair care in carefully curated formulations with minimal ingredients. Clean, herbal, timeless, genderless, cruelty-free, vegan formulations. Rejuvenates to chemically and physically damaged hair, restores its youthful shine and soothes porosity with organic, wildly harvested, carefully selected ingredients. 100% free of fragrances, fragrances and masking agents.
Symone Gates, Bath Collection, New York, NY.
Symone started developing pain management products that she could use after exercising. Herbs were used that have been extensively researched and shown to reduce both inflammation and pain. After a year of testing, she brought the Bädé collection to life in 2017, using more advanced ingredients like CBD made from hemp. The constant driving force behind the Bädé collection is to provide skin-loving benefits in a luxurious and safe way. With that in mind, all products are synthetic and preservative free and focus on simple formulations that deliver consistently.
The virtual competition was filmed on November 17th. The finalists each had three minutes to discuss with industry expert Chris Hobson, President and CEO of Rare Beauty Brands. Penny Coy, vice president of skin care, sun care, fragrance, and bath at Ulta Beauty; and Kendria Strong, executive vice president of marketing and innovation at Afro Sheen.
"At Rare Beauty Brands, we are excited about the changing power of entrepreneurship around the world," Hobson said in a statement. "We are proud to partner with Black Girl Ventures and Ulta Beauty to launch this important startup competition with the aim of winning over underrepresented groups, especially black and brown women."
And now it's your turn to see what these founders bring to the table and judge who should take home the title. The pitch competition starts streaming today. Register here to participate. Voting ends on November 30th and the winner will be announced on December 2nd. The public can also provide financial assistance to each of the founders through Black Girls Ventures' SheRaise platform.