It seems like companies are finally starting to catch on that investing in more women in top positions equals better results for everyone. And you’d think cosmetics companies, whose markets are mostly women, would be leading the charge. Of course, some of our favorite YouTubers are creating their own beauty products, but, surprisingly, a lot of big-name cosmetics companies are still run by men. Sephora wants to begin changing that.
“Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented,” the company wrote in a statement announcing their new accelerator program, SEPHORA Accelerate, which supports eight women-led cosmetics startups. Woah! “We are excited to take the next step in building a supportive community and learning environment for these early stage leaders, who are helping to shape the industry we are so passionate about at Sephora, an industry we are honored to share with these future brand leaders,” said Corrie Conrad, Sephora’s Head of Social Impact in a statement.
So, without further ado, meet the eight badass #girlbosses Sephora is investing in:
1. Candace Mitchell, Myavana: This company made an app that acts as a “hair scientist” for African American women, offering personalized hair care and product recommendations. Founded in 2012 by four African American women engineers, the company is chock-full of #girlboss energy. CEO Candace Mitchell worked in STEM for years before deciding to put her computer science degree to use with Myavana.
Telling the Bridge about how she came up with the idea, Mitchell says, “I’ve only been natural for the past seven years. I remember my mom giving me a relaxer at like nine years old. My sisters and I have extremely thick hair, so it was kind of like her last resort. In my sophomore year of college, I decided to go natural because my hair had broken off really, really bad from the chemicals, as well as from additional things I was doing such as heat and color. It was just awful. That’s what actually started the idea for hair analysis.” (Photo via Myavana)
2. Carolina Grove, Stylerz: This Mexico City-based #girlboss created an app that connects you with a ton of options for salons — hair, nails, spa, etc. — from the comfort of your own home. No more drive-by scoping out what a new salon looks like or hours-long Google searches trying to determine whether you can trust a salon with your precious hair. And the app even takes it a step further, and lets you schedule appointments within the app. Genius!
“We want to help [women founders] with digital tools to empower them to take their businesses to the next level and make a real difference in the beauty industry,” Grove tells Sephora.
3. Karissa Bodnar, Thrive Causemetics: This company is really special. For every product sold, one is donated to a woman who’s battling cancer. Founder Karissa Bodnar has worked in the cosmetics industry for years, but knew she wanted to give back when she got involved with an organization called Look Good, Feel Better.
According to Bodnar’s about page on the company website, “Look Good, Feel Better was able to provide products ranging from eyeliner to foundation, but the #1 question from women attending the classes was “What about eyelashes? I can’t seem to find faux eyelashes that work because I’ve lost my natural lashes that keep faux lashes on.” I heard this feedback for several years, but was unable to find a solution for these incredible women, and I wanted to give them more. After my friend Kristy passed away from cancer in 2013, I knew I had to do something to honor her life — I developed faux lashes that work for women who’ve lost their own. Through our proprietary design, we were able to develop a solution that delivers flawless application whether women have lashes or not.” (Photo via Thrive Causemetics)
4. Danielle Cohen-Shohet, GlossGenius: Boasting a service that means “no more phone tag with your clients,” GlossGenius is pretty, well, genius. It’s an artificial intelligence-based system that acts as a personal assistant to beauty professionals. The platform does everything from managing online booking to confirming appointments to even accepting and processing payments.
It’s a service that can be used by companies big and small, but Cohen-Shohet says it’s particularly exciting for up-and-coming beauty pros. “We spent months working with various verticals and realized independent beauty professionals were particularly bottlenecked; yet they’re one of the fast growing segments of the freelancing economy and generate a significant amount in service and product sales revenue. We created GlossGenius to give these pros the technology to overcome the bottlenecks associated with managing and growing their business,” she tells Alex Iskold.
5. Leila Janah, Laxmi: Here’s another company that really gives back. Not only is this skincare brand completely natural and organic, but it’s responsibly sourced. The sister company of the nonprofit Samasource, Laxmi makes sure to pay the people who harvest the ingredients that make their products special three times the average local wage. And their founder is a total badass. Before founding the company, she was a visiting scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice, worked in cosmetics research and development, worked with the World Bank and even was a travel writer.
“By sourcing rare, organic and sustainably-harvested skincare ingredients from low-income communities, paying a fair wage and investing in social programs, we are setting higher standards,” Janah writes. “Deeper luxury is about making yourself and the world more beautiful, and refusing to accept anything less.” (Photo via Leila Janah)
6. Lisa Mattam, Sahajan: This #girlboss founded her company on the basis of one important question: “I wondered, why was I willing to put something on my own skin that I wouldn’t want on my child’s?” Sahajan combines modern, innovative processing with age-old natural remedies to make one seriously effective skincare line.
On the company website, Mattam describes how her childhood influenced her passion for natural skincare: “In such a lush environment, it’s easy to incorporate natural ingredients into your life. My parents would take a coconut from their plantations and mill it fresh for oil, and my father — like me, someone who tinkers with formulas and concoctions — loved to whip up treatments for any skin complaint with what was on hand in the kitchen.”
7. Suzanne LeRoux, One Love Organics: Here’s a company really committed to organic and sustainable production. One Love Organics is ECOCERT licensed, one of only a small number of companies that are certified as being fully organic and natural. After having her son, LeRoux quit her job in law to live the mompreneur life and founded this gorgeous line.
“Once I became a mom, I realized that whatever we do can have a complete and total effect back on our children, and that was really heavy for me. It felt like a big responsibility. Negativity is a cycle, and it made me want to congregate love; that the best thing that we can do with our days is to love one another. I very much teach my kids to be good to each other and to other people,” she tells 50 States of Style. (Photo via @oneloveorganics)
8. Naa-Sakle Akuete, Eu’Genia Shea: After spending years working with researchers to figure out what people want in a moisturizer, Akuete zeroed in on one ingredient: shea. So she created a line that incorporates up to 95% pure shea content, compared to the about 25% their competitors use. With Eu’Genia Shea being a family business, Akuete expands that kind of support outward with a transparent supply chain that empowers women in Ghana.
“If you’ve been given the resources and opportunities to work for yourself, making sure your business supports the entire chain is an obligation not a choice; I couldn’t live with myself any other way,” she tells Sephora.
The founders will take part in a bootcamp program in San Francisco starting April 24, and a showcase day of their final products will be August 29. We can’t wait!
Which of these start-ups are YOU most excited about? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!