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Sephora has served as a prime example of what it means to support BIPOC beauty founders authentically. The beauty retailer was the first major company to sign the 15 Percent Pledge in 2020, dedicating 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. In 2021, Sephora committed their brand incubator program Sephora Accelerate to focus on mentoring founders of color solely.
"We are committed to ensuring that the brands and products found at Sephora represent all the colors, races, and ethnicities that make up America, effectively building a beauty community to which everyone feels they belong," senior vice president of merchandising (skincare and hair) Priya Venkatesh says. "To do so, it’s important that brand founders of all backgrounds have the opportunity and resources they need to grow their businesses and thrive."
In 2021, the initiative worked with dynamic BIPOC-owned brands like Topicals, 54 Thrones, and Kulfi Beauty. 2022's cohort is equally impressive, boasting 10 brands across skincare, makeup, haircare, and fragrance (for the first time ever). Ahead, learn more about what's in store for 2022's Sephora Accelerate program and get to know the selected participants.
What The Program Entails
Over five months, Sephora Accelerate participants will be provided with a robust curriculum, mentorship, merchandising support, potential funding, and investor connections. The incubator programming will be split into three segments: kickoff, boot camp, and graduation.
From mid-January to March, participants are onboarded into the Sephora Accelerate program and begin their branding, product development, and finance journeys.
The boot camp portion commences in early April, consisting of a week-long series of workshops. Executives from leading brands including Tatcha, First Aid Beauty, Kosas, Briogeo, Milk Makeup, and Tower 28 will lead sessions on topics including brand strategy, financial modeling, and product development. Participants will also have the chance to listen in on panels with fellow BIPOC founders such as Mazdack Rassi of Milk Makeup, Amy Liu of Tower 28, and Julian Addo of Adwoa. They'll also be able to connect with 2021 Sephora Accelerate graduates, like Olamide Olowe of Topicals.
To close out the program in early June, each cohort member will deliver a presentation to senior-level Sephora leaders about their brand and experience in the program. Upon completion of the program, participants will also have the opportunity to launch at Sephora.
Meet The Founders
Carolina Contreras, founder of Miss Rizos
Miss Rizos was born in the Dominican Republic over ten years ago, first as an online platform that educates, celebrates, and advocates for curly women and girls. Since then, the brand has grown a following of curly hair enthusiasts from all over the world. For the past seven years, Miss Rizos has operated two curly salons in New York City and the Dominican Republic. Its curly hair products embody all the experience, love, and commitment they have for their community as they try to change the world one curl at a time.
"The Sephora Accelerate program represents the opportunity to have a seat at the table of the world's number one beauty retailer and amplify the voices of Afro-Latina women who are often left out of the conversation," Contreras says. "My reaction to being selected was an initial shock because the idea of having a Dominican American curly hair line launch in Sephora was just beyond my wildest dreams. I hope to learn as much as I possibly can so that I can pay it forward and hold the door open for other Afro-Latinas in the beauty industry.
Sravya Adusumilli, founder of Mango People
Mango People is a line of multi-functional beauty essentials formulated with organic botanical oils, Adaptogenic herbs from Ayurveda, and plant pigments that look and feel incredible on the skin. The brand’s mission is to provide high-performing products that are inclusive of all skin tones without compromising on ingredients or our planet.
"Through this amazing program, I am hoping to have meaningful conversations with industry experts that have made a positive impact on the beauty space and learn the framework on how to build a successful and sustainable beauty brand," Adusumilli says. "I am also looking forward to meeting my fellow beautypreneurs. It's incredibly powerful and motivating, when you have support from each other, and I am really excited for all the conversations we will be having."
Basma Hameed and Parisa Durrani, founders of Basma Beauty
Basma Beauty believes that makeup should fit into your lifestyle—and not the other way around. Basma Beauty develops easy-to-use, versatile, and buildable makeup formulas that give you the ultimate control of your beauty routine.
Fara Homidi, founder of Fara Homidi
A champion of "high-performance slow beauty," clean luxury beauty line Fara Homidi is professionally formulated for effortless application. The products feature sustainably-minded packaging and products—including a refill system—and an inclusive color range.
Selah Lemon, founder of House of Foster
A modern fragrance house rooted in intention, House of Foster doesn’t make you choose between wellness and aesthetics. The brand rejects the mundane and believes in promoting intentional formulation that positively provokes the senses.
Nisha Phatak and Madhu Punjabi, co-founders of Lion Pose
Lion Pose is the first clean+clinical brand for brown skin, raising research standards and fighting hyperpigmentation with powerful actives. Developed with Harvard-educated dermatologists and clinically tested on skin of color, Lion Pose products are intended to be the first line of defense for brown skin issues (like melasma, hyperpigmentation, ingrown hairs, or acne).
Rimah Husain, founder of Kempt
Kempt is elevating the facial hair removal experience with a skin-first approach. The brand offers effective but gentle hair removal products with clean formulations that feature skincare ingredients.
Kiku Chaudhuri, co-founder of Shaz & Kiks
Shaz & Kiks harnesses the healing powers of Earth’s natural ingredients to build your healthiest hair. Founded by two sisters, the brand’s mission is to create innovative products inspired by ancient Indian rituals, using ethically sourced Ayurvedic raw ingredients that are proven natural alternative solutions, to holistically nourish the entire hair ecosystem.
Krys Lunardo, founder of Sistine
Sistine is an inclusive cabinet of clean skincare formulas for the ecocentric eccentric, curated to match the protective and nourishing properties of earth’s four spheres. The brand relies on clean ingredients extracted from nutrient-rich terrestrial and aquatic plant life. Sistine believes that beauty is our orbit, where the co-existential harmony of humans and eco-care is balanced.
Scarlett Rocourt, founder of Wonder Curl
Wonder Curl is a Black-owned, vegan haircare line that improves the texture of natural hair by keeping hair nourished and hydrated for days without rewetting or restyling. The brand aims to provide its customers with the best products that will allow them to enhance their natural curl pattern and achieve any hairstyle they want.