Sephora has announced details of its 2021 Accelerator incubator program, including eight brands who will participate in it, which for the first time features a cohort comprised exclusively of founders of color. Now in its sixth year, the program – which previously focused on cultivating an international community of female beauty founders and supported the launch of more than 50 women-owned brands – reflects Sephora’s commitment to increasing BIPOC representation in prestige beauty and on Sephora shelves.
This year’s program also features mentorship from industry veterans, feedback and exposure to leading investment firms and venture capitalists. Upon completion of the program, all participating brands will launch at Sephora, putting the prestige omni-retailer on track to double its assortment of Black-owned brands by the end of 2021.
“Last year, we made a commitment to dedicate 15 percent of Sephora shelf space to Black-owned brands, and we quickly realized the role that our Accelerate program could play in not only helping us to reach that goal, but to set these brands up for long-term success and growth,” said Artemis Patrick, Sephora’s Executive Vice President and Global Chief Merchandising Officer. “The goal of this program has long been to provide meaningful, ongoing support for growing brands, and that is exactly what we’re aiming to deliver to our 2021 Accelerate cohort. Each of the eight participating founders is inspiring in their own right, and we believe wholeheartedly in their potential at Sephora; we are so excited to help shape their futures and to ultimately introduce these brands to our clients.”
The Sephora Accelerate program focuses on providing mentorship, merchandising support, potential funding, and investor connections to participants. Key milestones for this year’s program, which will take place virtually, include:
- Orientation: Participants will be onboarded into the Sephora ecosystem, including forming relationships with their merchant sponsors, and hearing from brand visionaries Vicky Tsai of Tatcha and Nancy Twine of Briogeo about brand building, financial best practices and their journeys as founders.
- Bootcamp: Founders will complete a rigorous week of internal and external curriculum focused on setting up their brand for long-term success. This will include intensive workshops across all areas of Sephora’s expertise, including but not limited to, marketing, omni strategy, product development, investment strategy, media relations, supply chain and operations, inventory planning and much more.
- Presentation Planning: Following Bootcamp, founders will continue to partner with their merchant sponsors to ready their businesses for launch and begin preparation for Pitch Day.
- Pitch Day & Graduation: At the end of May, each brand founder will give a formal presentation to a group of industry experts, investors, and senior-level Sephora leaders in an effort to unlock investment and scale their brand. Pitch Day will be followed by a Graduation celebration for all eight brands and their merchant sponsors.
The following founders comprise the 2021 Sephora Accelerate Cohort:
- Christina Funke Tegbe, Founder, 54 Thrones
54 Thrones is a natural, authentic and thoughtful beauty brand that celebrates and elevates African beauty rituals. The brand offers face and body products with African-grown, pure, and organic plant botanicals blended to protect, soothe and nourish your skin.
- Marie Kouadio Amouzame, Co-Founder, and Alice Lin Glover, Co-Founder, EADEM
Eadem is a beauty brand pioneering Smart Melanin Beauty — our products combine science-backed ingredients and heritage botanicals to effectively and gently care for skin of color.
- Alisia Michelle Ford, Founder & CEO, Glory
Glory is a skin care brand focused on clean targeted treatments formulated for melanin-rich skin from head to toe.
- Desiree Verdejo, Founder & CEO, Hyper Skin
Hyper Skin is a hyper-targeted skincare brand rooted in multiculturalism. The first issue that they are tackling is dark spots and discoloration on all skin tones and enhancing glow.
- Nia Wellman, Founder, Imania Beauty
Designed for textured tresses, with a scalp first approach, Imania Beauty is a hemp and wellness-conscious brand. They believe that caring for your hair should be both simplistic and nourishing.
- Priyanka Ganjoo, Founder, Kulfi Beauty
Kulfi brings celebration into beauty with fun and approachable products designed around South Asian skin tones and undertones. They are challenging toxic beauty standards in South Asian culture defined by Eurocentric ideals and patriarchy.
- Megan Graham, Founder, ries
Bringing luxury, function and convenience to the travel-beauty and toiletries market, ries offers reusable, leak-proof, TSA-friendly travel containers made of biodegradable material.
- Olamide Olowe, Founder & CEO, Topicals
Topicals is a beauty brand celebrating the fun of flare-ups with effective skincare and mental health advocacy.
Janet Gurwitch of Advent International and Alissa Williams of VMG will join Vicky and Nancy as mentors, as will several other beauty founders, including Julian Addo of Adwoa, Maeva Heim of Bread Beauty Supply, Mazdack Rassi of Milk Makeup, Amy Liu of Tower 28, Aurora James of Brother Vellies, Josh McDowell of Main Post, Alisa Won of Sideman, Hadley Mulin of TSG, David Chung of iLabs, Nikki Walton, April Reign and other guests.