On May 7, nearly 200 guests came together at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA, to celebrate CEW’s 2024 Visionary Awards Honorees. The live event marked CEW’s return to the West Coast in almost five years and featured a cocktail party followed by a program honoring five female leaders who are driving innovation and impact in the beauty industry. Harris Williams served as presenting sponsor for the program.

“I am incredibly honored to celebrate these phenomenal women,” said Carlotta Jacobson, CEW President. “The Visionary Awards exemplify and honor the women in beauty who are charting their own path and contributing to the industry personally and professionally. The beauty industry thrives when we give our female leaders the tools and encouragement to pursue their passions, along with the recognition for their remarkable contributions.”

The Visionary Awards are representative of CEW’s core mission: honoring and advancing female leadership.

Kicking off the event, keynote speaker Nancy Twine, Founder and CEO of Briogeo Hair Care, delivered an inspiring address to a packed room of thought leaders, brand executives, indie founders, retailers, suppliers, and more.

Nancy Twine, CEO, Briogeo, was Keynote for CEW’s Visionary Awards in L.A. Tuesday evening, May 7.

“Five years ago, I stood where you are now when I received the CEW Female Founders Award. To tonight’s honorees, you redefine what it means to be leaders and visionaries in the beauty industry. And I urge you to seize this moment and celebrate the paths that you’ve traveled. Each of you is a testament to the power of risk-taking, courage, and perseverance. Remember that as you embrace challenges, stay true to you vision. And never undervalue the gift of community. As you progress, remember that you’re not just walking through doors, you’re holding them for those who follow.”

Twine talked about what it means to be a founder, including constantly managing risks and fear. The latter being what can drive the most character.

“Let me tell you, fear can be a powerful motivator. It shapes our paths and our decisions. And when we confront and overcome our fears, they turn knowledge into expertise. And that expertise empowers us to bring our visions to life. Yet having a vision isn’t enough, because you also need the courage to turn that vision into a reality.”

In addition to running the company she sold in 2022 to Wella, Twine is committed to helping underrepresented founders in the beauty space.

“Not all founders have access to friends and family capital. This key insight and a personal desire to give back to an industry that’s given me so much has inspired me to find a way to use my position to help support the journeys of other founders who look like me,” she said, referring to the Dream Makers Founder Grant she established in March that is a $1 million commitment to support diverse entrepreneurs in that doesn’t require them to give up any equity or take on any debt.“

Following Twine, each Visionary shared her personal journey and words of wisdom for the next generation.

The first Honoree, Randi Christiansen, CEO and Co-Founder of Nécessaire, received an award for Leadership and Innovation. Christiansen spent many years in leadership roles at The Estée Lauder Companies, working at La Mer and Tom Ford Beauty. Nécessaire’s inspiration came from a combination of her Danish roots, love of nature, and desire for streamlined simplicity. “When we started Nécessaire, we really wanted to be a brand that cared about doing the right thing – and the simple but necessary things better and more responsibly. We believe in leaving everything a little bit better than you found it. We started with body products, because body care at the time was shea butter and fragrance. We were like, ‘Skin doesn’t stop at the neck. We should treat the skin on our body like we treat our face,” Christiansen said, urging entrepreneurs in the audience to “make things you believe in, and make them really well. Earn the trust of every single person you touch. Consider your impact in small ways and big ways, and be resilient. It’s tough to start a beauty brand in 2024, but I am just getting started.”

Amy Liu, CEO and Founder of Tower 28, accepted a Visionary Award for Breaking Barriers. Liu found white space based on her own authentic need for inclusive skin care and affordable high-performance products safe for sensitive skin to help address her own eczema. In addition to making products, she is on a mission to pay it forward. Her Clean Beauty Summer School breaks barriers in beauty by providing BIPOC and underrepresented founders of clean beauty brands with virtual education, mentorship, access to funds and introductions to retailers. “Every day, everyone in this room puts out words, images, and products that define aspiration, a yardstick that people measure themselves against. As a first-gen Asian American girl from the Midwest, I know firsthand what it means to feel like you’re not the standard of beauty. Twenty years ago when I started Tower 28, there were so few women of color in leadership positions. This room shows progress, and we are the catalyst,” Liu said. “Be the voice in the room. Don’t just believe in collaboration over competition. Act on it. Hire each other, invest in each other, help each other, and, most of all, celebrate each other. Together, we can make the beauty industry more inclusive, more sustainable and more beautiful.” Liu ended on a note of gratitude. “I once read that the highest form of wealth is when the people you respect also respect you. Today in this room I feel rich.”

Amazon’s Kirsti White and Ali Kole; Necessaire’s Randi Christiansen; Half Magic Beauty’s Michelle Liu
Rose Fernandez; Main Post Partners’ Tara Hyland; Harris Williams’ Kelly McPhilliamy; Tower 28’s Amy Liu; Roz’s Mara Rozak; CAVU Consumer’s Jenna Jackson

Shontay Lundy, Creator and Founder of Black Girl Sunscreen, accepted a Visionary Award for Representation. Like many innovative brands, the idea for Black Girl Sunscreen was born from Lundy’s personal experience. There wasn’t an SPF product on the market suited for her skin tone, so she took it upon herself to develop the industry’s first sunscreen specifically formulated for melanated skin, getting it off the ground with $33,000 of her savings.  “Our business protects women of color and people of color from sunburns and melanoma. The largest impact that Black Girl Sunscreen has had on the space was creating a completely new category that was focused on a demographic that was ignored. This category will now live on forever. We were the first to do it. Being a visionary to me means someone that can think big, think in the future, and then implement their dream.”

Raw Sugar Founder and CMO, Donda Mullis, accepted a Visionary Award for Community & Social Impact. Mullis launched Raw Sugar when she was 50, after a career of launching retail brands. Caring is at the core of Mullis’ heart and Raw Sugar’s mission, along with driving positive change and uplifting others. The Raw Sugar Initiative, to date, has distributed 21 million bars of soap to people in need. These efforts employ 160 women who have become the breadwinners of their families. “It’s never been about making great products. It’s always been about giving great products to people so they can feel more beautiful. I’m so excited for Raw Sugar’s future growth, because more growth equals more giving back – and making clean personal care products more accessible and affordable. Honestly, it’s all about women kindness, women supporting women and recognizing each other’s strengths and worth. To me, that’s where it all starts.”

Event guests enjoy sampling Visionary Honoree products.
Networking is key to CEW events and the Visionary Awards did not disappoint.

Katherine Power, Founder and Chairperson of MERIT and Versed, was presented a Visionary Award for Entrepreneurship & Economic Impact. Power, also a Partner at Greycroft venture capital firm, has a track record of replicating data-driven brands in high-growth categories, like mass skin care and clean luxury cosmetics, but she has also played in the food and beverage industry with Avaline, an organic wine brand she created with Cameron Diaz. “I was definitely born an entrepreneur. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to make money or sell something. I’m most proud of being able to see these brands and products come to life. As the founder of Merit and Versed, and an investor in many beauty businesses through my fund at Greycroft, I’m honored to receive this award. I would do my job for free. I love it that much. But if you know me, you know that the only thing I like more than making lipsticks and moisturizers is making money, so I am honored to be recognized for both of those things tonight,” Power quipped, later sharing during a quick-fire Q&A that her dream collaboration partner is Martha Stewart.

Event sponsors included Amazon Beauty, Ulta Beauty, Allure Beauty Concepts, O.Berk, Presperse, 24 Seven, MANE, Anisa, Briogeo, RéVive, Oracle NetSuite, Oak Essentials, Fab Fit Fun, Kaplow Communications, Cosmoprof, MOSS, and Consultancy Media.