Today, Sephora announced the participants for its 2022 Accelerate brand incubator program, with a new group of 10 BIPOC brand founders to provide retail resources. These entrepreneurs reflect the very best in beauty, with brand offerings spanning the full range of the Sephora product universe, including makeup, skincare, haircare, and for the first time ever – fragrance.
Now in its seventh year, the Sephora Accelerate program continues its focus on supporting founders of color. The shift, instituted earlier this year, reflects Sephora’s commitment to increasing BIPOC representation in prestige beauty and in Sephora’s assortment, making Sephora – and the beauty industry at-large – a place where everyone feels they belong.
“We are committed to ensuring that the brands and products found at Sephora represent all the colors, races, and ethnicities that make up America, effectively building a beauty community to which everyone feels they belong,” said Priya Venkatesh, SVP Merchandising, Skin Care and Hair, Sephora. “To do so, it’s important that brand founders of all backgrounds have the opportunity and resources they need to grow their businesses and thrive. Through the Accelerate program, Sephora is committed to giving founders the long-term mentorship, access to market and scale they need to truly accelerate growth, with the program serving as a springboard for nascent brands to become visible, viable, stable, and financially solvent.”
This year’s program builds on existing programming to provide a robust curriculum, mentorship, merchandising support, potential funding, and investor connections to all participants, who will have the opportunity to launch at Sephora upon completion of the program. Key program milestones include:
- Orientation + Curriculum Kickoff (mid-January – March 2022): To start the program, participants will be onboarded into the Sephora ecosystem in preparation for Bootcamp. During this time, they will have the opportunity to form relationships with their merchant sponsors and fellow participants, as well as kick off their branding, product development and finance journeys, among other topics.
- Bootcamp (early April 2022): Finalists will complete a week-long series of education and inspiration sessions, with internal and external curriculum focused on setting up brands for long-term success. This will include intensive workshops across all areas of Sephora’s expertise, including but not limited to, marketing, omnichannel strategy, product development, investment strategy, media relations, supply chain & operations, inventory planning and much more. Following Bootcamp, founders will continue to participate in brand-building workshops, with one-on-one sessions with advisors and Sephora experts offered throughout this period.
- Graduation (Late May/Early June 2022): Marking the close of the program, each brand founder will give a formal presentation to senior-level Sephora leaders about their brand journey and the expertise gleaned during the program, followed by a Graduation celebration for all participants.
Adding elevated expertise and leadership to the Accelerate experience, Sephora has engaged a number of experts and brands in their respective fields, including former Accelerate program participants, to share their knowledge and guidance with program participants, including, but not limited to:
- Executives from leading brands including Tatcha, First Aid Beauty, Kosas, Briogeo, Milk Makeup and Tower 28 will lead sessions on topics including Brand Strategy, Financial Modeling, Product Development and Marketing.
- A “BIPOC Founder Inspirational Series” will feature stories by notable brand founders of color including Julian Addo (Adwoa Beauty), Danessa Myricks (Danessa Myricks Beauty), Sarah Lee and Christine Chang (Glow Recipe), Akash Mehta (Fable & Mane) and Heela Jang (Sol de Janeiro).
- Brand founders including Mazdack Rassi of Milk Makeup, Amy Liu of Tower 28 and Julian Addo of Adwoa will lead a “Founder Panel” discussion around their personal brand stories and their journey with Sephora.
- A group of 2021 Accelerate graduates, including Olamide Olowe (Topicals), Christina Funke Tegbe (54 Thrones) and Marie Kouadio Amouzame and Alice Lin Glover (EADEM), will also share their Accelerate experiences, including post-program success at Sephora.
Meet the 2022 Sephora Accelerate Cohort, demonstrating leadership in beauty:
- Basma Hameed and Parisa Durrani, Founders, BASMA Beauty
BASMA Beauty believes that makeup should fit into your lifestyle – and not the other way around. BASMA Beauty develops easy-to-use, versatile, and buildable formulas that give you the ultimate control of your beauty routine, via makeup made for real life and real skin.
- Fara Homidi, Founder, FARA HOMIDI
A champion of “high performance slow beauty,” this clean luxury beauty line is professionally formulated for effortless application, featuring sustainably-minded packaging and products – including a refill system – and an inclusive color range.
- Selah Lemon, Founder, House of Foster
A modern fragrance house rooted in intention, House of Foster doesn’t make you choose between wellness and aesthetic. The brand rejects the mundane and believes in the promotion of intentional formulation that positively provokes the senses.
- Nisha Phatak and Madhu Punjabi, Co-Founders, Lion Pose
Lion Pose is the first clean+clinical brand for brown skin—raising research standards and fighting hyperpigmentation with powerful actives. Developed with Harvard-educated dermatologists and clinically tested on skin of color, Lion Pose products are intended to be the first line of defense for brown skin issues, whether melasma, hyperpigmentation, ingrown hairs, or acne.
- Rimah Husain, Founder, Kempt
Kempt is elevating the facial hair removal experience with a skin-first approach. The brand offers effective but gentle hair removal products with clean formulations that feature skincare ingredients.
- Sravya Adusumilli, Founder, Mango People
Mango People is a line of multi-functional beauty essentials formulated with organic botanical oils, Adaptogenic herbs from Ayurveda, and infused with plant pigments that look and feel incredible on the skin. The brand’s mission is to provide high-performing products that are inclusive of all skin tones, without compromising on ingredients or our planet.
- Carolina Contreras, Founder, Miss Rizos
Born in the Dominican Republic over ten years ago first as an online platform that educates, celebrates, and advocates for curly women and girls, Miss Rizos has cultivated and grown a following of curly hair enthusiasts from all over the world. For the past seven years, Miss Rizos also operates two curly salons in New York City and the Dominican Republic. Its curly hair products embody all the experience, love and commitment they have for their community as they try to change the world one curl at a time.
- Kiku Chaudhuri, Co-Founder, SHAZ & KIKS
SHAZ & KIKS harnesses the healing powers of Earth’s natural ingredients to build your healthiest hair. Founded by two sisters, the brand’s mission is to create innovative products that are inspired by ancient Indian rituals, using ethically sourced Ayurvedic raw ingredients that are proven natural alternative solutions, to holistically nourish the entire hair ecosystem. Co-founder Shaz Rajashekar will not be participating in the program.
- Krys Lunardo, Founder, Sistine
Sistine is an inclusive cabinet of clean skincare formulas for the ecocentric eccentric, curated to match the protective and nourishing properties of earth’s four spheres, with clean ingredients extracted from nutrient-rich terrestrial and aquatic plant-life. The brand believes that beauty is our orbit, where the co-existential harmony of human and eco-care is balanced.
- Scarlett Rocourt, Founder, Wonder Curl
Wonder Curl is a Black-owned, vegan hair care line that improves the texture of natural hair by keeping hair nourished and hydrated for days without rewetting or restyling. The brand aims to provide its customers with the best products that will improve the texture of their hair, as well as allow them to enhance their natural curl pattern while achieving any hairstyle they want.
All 2022 participants applied to the program in Fall 2021. Eligible applicants were required to be at least 18 years old, have a North American-incorporated company, and be in the early stages of development (i.e., not yet widely distributed by others). In selecting finalists, Sephora also took into account each brand’s vision, innovation, and current stage of product developments.
“We are thrilled to welcome all 2022 finalists to the Accelerate program and into the Sephora family,” added Venkatesh. “We know that business growth in communities of color creates jobs, opportunity, stability and generational wealth – having the potential for decades of positive impact. With the program’s focus on BIPOC-owned brands, Sephora is committed to making a difference.”
Jeanel has 15 years of retail, marketing and brand management experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2019, after working in corporate retail and real estate as a senior managing director and former consultant. She's traveled all over the world, speaks at world renowned trade shows and events, holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce (B.Comm) and a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate. You can connect with her on Linkedin.