Mentorship and community-building are cornerstones of Victoria Payne’s management style. So when Payne was named CEO of Urban Skin Rx in August 2023, it was natural for her to continue the company’s one-year-old program that provides one-on-one advice to those looking to make it in business. The initiative, “For Us, an Rx for Women in Business,” will get Payne’s thumbprint by including industry leaders (not just company founders) and by widening it beyond beauty. The initiative launches today, March 8, in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

“This year, we have 13 leaders in and outside of beauty who will serve as mentors,” said Payne, who anticipates as many as 150 entrants into the program. That tops last year which attracted more than 100 applicants who vied for advice from eight founders. All in all, 13 companies will be selected.

“I want to highlight women in leadership, masterminds of industry, people with a soup-to-nuts understanding of business and industry,” Victoria Payne said of the program that is being entirely fueled by social media.

This year’s mentor roster includes founders and leaders Erin Carpenter of Nude Barre; LYS’ Tisha Thompson; Lindsey Martin of Kiramoon; Meghan Maupin of OurX; Launi King of Creative Play/Claspees; Jenny Goodman of Tilit; Nidhi Dangayach of Verlas; Julia Perez of OWYN; Christina Kao of Le Mini Macaron; Sarah Spliethoff of Sunniemade; Courtney Somer of Lake & Skye; and Helen Reavey of Act + Acre.

Last year’s mentors praised the program and the power of collaboration. “I attribute much of my success to the people who have poured their time, effort, and knowledge into me throughout my career, and this is the perfect opportunity to pay it forward. It’s my hope that those with major career aspirations feel empowered to persevere knowing there’s a community of other like-minded women out there willing to lend a helping hand,” said LYS’s Thompson.

Somer from Lake & Skye added, “I wish I had this type of mentorship when I was starting my business.”

Act + Acre cofounder and Creative Director Reavey is joining the initiative for the first time. “As female entrepreneurs, we’re not only defying the norms society cuts out for us, but we’re also role models for others looking to do the same. This program encompasses the importance + power behind mentorship + networking to build the future of female entrepreneurship.”

The entry process involves submitting a form that will be vetted by the Urban Skin Rx team. Criteria requires candidates to be in business for at least six months or hold a leadership role within a company. Based on the submissions and backstories from each candidate, Urban Skin Rx will match 13 mentees with the most like-minded mentor. Each winner of the opportunity will receive 60 minutes with the selected founder, which will be completed via virtual sessions by April 30. The application process closes March 24.

This year, Urban Skin Rx will include an opt-in for applicants’ emails to be collected and added to the participating mentor’s newsletter database, allowing them to keep up to date with business and new initiatives, such as the International Women’s Day campaign.

Payne’s is proud her love of mentoring is becoming a part of the company’s DNA.

“I love to mentor, and my team will tell you I’m an open book. Sometimes, there is a line of people coming into my office. That kind of open-door leadership is something I respected and benefitted from as a young professional,” she said.

She leverages her background as a certified public accountant to help fledging executives understand how to make businesses profitable.

“I’ve had founders come in with shoeboxes of receipts,” she recalled. A lot of time, founders are product people and marketing experts. They are not finance and operations people. I can bring some of those skills to them.”

Payne appreciates the advice of those who counseled her: “I had some excellent mentors. One of my mentors told me to always say what you mean. Don’t be shy about what you mean. Say it in a professional way if it’s somewhat adversarial, but people will respect you.”

Urban Skin Rx was founded by Rachel Roff in 2010 after noticing a lack of products for melanin-rich skin. Roff left the company last year and now sits on the board. Prior to serving as CEO, Payne was CFO of the company, which she joined in April 2022.

“Rachel did a phenomenal job of building a great brand. The biggest gift she gave me was leaving me with an amazing team,” Payne said.

Urban Skin Rx is a problem-solution brand with distribution in Target, Ulta Beauty, Walmart, and CVS, as well as on its own site, as well as Amazon. “It is a very exciting time for us. We are innovating and introducing new items to add to our hero products. In just three months, we’ve introduced four new SKUs,” Payne said.