On Thursday Sephora named 13 female entrepreneurs from around the world who will receive months-long business support to help them evolve their concepts and ideas into successful businesses. The Sephora Accelerate program, as the annual event is called, launched three years ago and receives hundreds and hundreds of applicants from women working in beauty in one of three categories: merchandising, technology and sustainability.

The in-depth support kicks off with a one-week bootcamp at a mansion in San Francisco “where the entrepreneurs live through a robust curriculum of panels and workshops, with expert guidance from Sephora and program partners,” said Corrie Conrad, Head of Social Impact and Sustainability for Sephora. 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. They will also receive monetary grants to support their business endeavors.

In fall 2018, following months of support, 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.

This year’s program 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 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. To date, Sephora has already provided 950+ mentorship hours and more than $400,000 in grants and loans. It has also created 2,000 jobs, and all of the brands entered into the Accelerate have secured retail partnerships, three of them with Sephora.

Here, the 2018 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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.