Sephora, the leader in global prestige beauty omni-retail, remains dedicated to building the future of innovative female beauty entrepreneurs around the world. This year, the retailer selected 13 new Sephora Accelerate Cohort members working across three categories: Merchandising, Technology and Sustainability. In its third year, the program has expanded to include the largest number of entrepreneurs to-date from a total of seven countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and now, France, Switzerland and China.
As an Accelerate cohort in 2018, these female founders will receive months-long programming, allowing them to acquire the necessary skills to create and evolve into successful businesses. Specifically, they will receive in-depth instruction and feedback during a one-week bootcamp with expert guidance from Sephora and program partners. In addition, each entrepreneur will have the opportunity to tackle their business challenges through one-on-one mentoring from Sephora leaders and beauty industry experts, such as Pamela Baxter, former CEO and President of Christian Dior Couture and Nancy Twine, Founder and CEO of Briogeo Hair Care, as well as receive monetary grants to support their business endeavors. To conclude the 2018 program later this fall, each member will participate in the Sephora Accelerate Demo Day, giving them a platform to present their companies to industry experts, venture partners and senior Sephora leaders with the goal of future business growth, programming and networking.
“We’re thrilled to welcome these 13 diverse and inspirational female beauty business CEOs and founders into the 2018 Cohort. Each one of these women represent immense talent, intelligence and innovative thinking within their respective fields, and what better way to celebrate their induction into the Accelerate program than an introduction on International Women’s Day,” said Corrie Conrad, Head of Social Impact and Sustainability for Sephora. “We’re proud to offer these entrepreneurs a comprehensive ecosystem of support to help them achieve their beauty business objectives, not just with this year’s programming, but also by leveraging our alumni network that will continue to increase with each new Cohort.”
As part of SEPHORA STANDS, the company’s broad social impact strategy to inspire confidence and fearlessness among women, Sephora Accelerate was created based on the insight that even in an industry where beauty customers are predominantly female, beauty business women are still underrepresented. As the program continues to grow year over year, Sephora Accelerate is on track to support more than 50 women-led beauty businesses by 2020.
Meet the 2018 Sephora Accelerate Cohort:
Cathy Han, CEO, 42 Technologies (U.S.)
42 Technologies is a B2B turn-key analytics and reporting solution built for omni-channel retailers, offering full-stack solution and visualization capabilities that do not require engineering experience from retailer clients.
“A big part of building a startup is empowering others, both in and outside of your company. For me, social impact is important because I see technology as an enabler of people. I want the products we build to help make technology simple, intuitive, and accessible to everyone.”
Ming Zhao, CEO, PROVEN (U.S.)
PROVEN is a new beauty startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create personalized skin care products for consumers. Customers fill out a simple quiz and receive a unique skin profile based on findings from PROVEN’s skincare database. The database was built using bots to analyze over 8 million customer reviews, 100,000 skincare products, 20,000 ingredients and 2,000 scientific articles.
“At PROVEN, we believe every woman is unique and extraordinary, and that her skincare should be too. Our mission is to build an inclusive beauty brand that uses cutting edge technology to improve women’s everyday lives.”
Nelly Pitt, CEO, BeautyMix (France)
BeautyMix is a DIY multi-functional hardware appliance that creates homemade cosmetics. The appliance can be used as a standalone or connected to a mobile app where automated recipes are loaded and the products created are recorded for traceability. In addition, BeautyMix sells beauty and care boxes that include basic ingredients to use along with the appliance.
“I left a successful career in the corporate world because I wanted to build a company that would fit my values: Caring for my customers, environment, employees, suppliers, and my community.”
Erika Milczek, CEO, Curie Co (U.S.)
Curie Co is a life science company that engineers biomaterials to replace chemicals banned by the FDA in consumer products. Our goal is to use biotechnology to democratize sustainability. We want to bring sustainable goods to everybody.
“One of the biggest challenges for women is fundraising — it’s almost a mirror image of the pay gap issue. Women are asking for less, but male entrepreneurs tend to ask for the biggest number they can possibly get. A venture capitalist once told me, ‘When women come to me, they’re usually asking for a smaller check size, and I can’t force them to ask for more money.’ That was a big a-ha moment for me.”
Kylee Guenther, CEO, Spectalite (U.S.)
Spectalite specializes in creating bamboo fiber composite materials, including a biodegradable product that is durable and lightweight, creating an eco-friendly plastic alternative for beauty/retail rigid packaging.
“Being a bamboo fiber material/packaging supplier gives me a unique opportunity to become part of the beauty industry, and I’m really happy to see Sephora putting a focus not only on beauty product entrepreneurs, but also on the packaging those products go in!”
Cat Chen, CEO, Skylar Body (U.S.)
Skylar Body is a natural direct-to-consumer fragrance brand offering high-quality ingredients at an attainable price point. Ushering a new generation of better-for-you fragrances, Skylar’s artisanal formulas deliver refined and fresh scents made with natural ingredients from all over the world. All signature scents are hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan, and remain free of artificial dyes, parabens, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals.
“Implementing a social impact component into our business has always been important to achieving our mission of empowering women, whether it’s through providing information, making better products, or giving to those in need.”
KJ Miller, Co-CEO, Mented Cosmetics (U.S.)
Mented, short for pigmented, is an upscale beauty brand for women of color. Mented believes every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty, and their products help women of all skin tones do just that.
“One of the biggest challenges as a woman entrepreneur is accessing the networks that help male founders succeed. We’ve worked hard to fill that gap by surrounding ourselves with thoughtful and ambitious female entrepreneurs and I’m excited to continue doing so with Sephora Accelerate.”
Brandi Leifso, CEO, Evelyn Iona Cosmetics (Canada)
Evelyn Iona was created with a mission to build community through products that women use every single day. The line features green beauty products that fill the gap of hard-to-find color cosmetics that are good for your skin, planet and your community.
“The company was brought to life when I was living in a women’s shelter where I learned first-hand the impact that conscious choices of strangers can have. Using conscious lifestyle products is an easy way to help impact your skin, planet, and community in a positive way. We believe that together we can create a new standard of living that promotes kindness.”
Iliana Loza, CEO, Ahal (Mexico)
With a name that means awakening in Mayan, Ahal creates 100% organic cosmetic products in Mexico. Ahal formulates, designs, and manufactures its products in-house while sourcing conscious and high-quality ingredients locally from Mexico and around the world.
“Social impact is important to my business because it demonstrates that our company takes an interest in wider issues that are beyond profit margins. We believe in programs that empower young women, and at Ahal, we live it internally.”
Heather Ridout, CEO, Okira (Brazil)
Originated in the Northeast of Brazil, Okira is a range of indulgent, yet responsible, personal care products and fine fragrance infused with natural ingredients, including essential oils and responsibly sourced raw honey. With social impact at its core, the company is developing a program to provide professional development and work experience that will facilitate socio-economic inclusion and empowerment for underserved young people.
“As a female founder of an impact-driven business, gaining credibility with key stakeholders, suppliers and partners can often be a much slower process. I have found that many industry actors associate ‘social impact’ with ‘small scale,’ assuming that either the product or the impact must be compromised for the other to thrive. However, I believe enduring impact is contingent on a robust, competitive and successful business.”
Anju Rupal, CEO, Abhati Suisse (Switzerland)
Abhati Suisse represents a collection of scientifically proven skincare beauty products using the therapeutic virtues of Swiss botanicals with Himalayan plants from organic farms and transforming them into luxurious, sustainable and fair-trade beauty products. Each product sends a girl in India to school for a week.
“Business is the driving force for helping us create a better world. The better I perform, the higher the impact. What better motivation is there?”
Laure Bouguen, CEO, Ho Karan (France)
At Ho Karan, we believe that cannabis sativa is the most powerful plant that not only can help to create more sustainable consumer habits, but also healthier and more harmonious lifestyles. Its cannabis-infused skincare products, made in France, are natural, vegan, and gender-free. With the line, Ho Karan hopes to reveal the natural virtues of organic cannabis and its ability to relieve and sublimate one’s skin and mind.
“I’m convinced that natural cannabis-derived products are the future of the cosmetics and well-being industries. The potential of this plant is enormous and remains largely untapped, especially in Europe. The vastness of the challenge can be overwhelming. Being accompanied by one of the world’s leading distributors is reassuring and helps me focus and see the bigger picture.”
Shuting Hu, CEO, SkinData (China)
SkinData is a startup that brings cutting-edge research in biological science to the beauty industry. It is dedicated to the discovery of naturally-sourced pharmaceutical-grade compounds that maintain and improve skin health.
“At SkinData, it is in our mission to give back to local economies where we sourced our ingredients and to help the communities there create sustainable ecosystems.”