Sephora announced the participants for its 2022 Accelerate brand incubator program, which gives up-and-coming brands the opportunity and access to Sephora’s network of mentors, merchandising support, potential funding, and investor connections. Furthering Sephora’s commitment to making the beauty industry more inclusive, the 2022 Accelerate cohort includes a group of ten BIPOC brand founders. Priya Venkatesh, senior vice president merchandising, skin care and hair of Sephora, stated, “It’s important that brand founders of all backgrounds have the opportunity and resources they need to grow their businesses and thrive.” Participants will have the opportunity to launch at Sephora upon completion of the program.
Sephora focuses on BIPOC founders
Venkatesh stated in an exclusive interview,“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.” The entrepreneurs in the program offer a broad range of products including makeup, skincare, haircare, and for the first time ever, fragrance.
In 2021, Sephora revamped the program to focus exclusively on brand founders of color, as part of its larger commitment to equity across all areas of the business and the 15 Percent Pledge. Venkatesh said, “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, and we couldn’t be prouder of all our Accelerate brands as they continue to grow and thrive.” The Accelerate program pivoted last year to give all founders an opportunity of a lifetime, launching with Sephora, the world’s largest beauty retailer.
Now in its seventh year, the Sephora Accelerate program continues its focus on supporting founders of color with products that are reflective of a diverse customer base. “We are committed to ensuring that the brands and products found at Sephora represent all the colors, races, and ethnicities that make up America,” said Venkatesh.
Accelerate program milestones and participants
Accelerate includes an orientation and curriculum kickoff starting in January, bootcamp in early April and graduation which takes place May/June 2022. When asked about the success of last year’s participating brands, Venkatesh said, “We have been so thrilled by our clients’ response to all brands launched through our 2021 program, as several have experienced such fast success.” For instance, thanks to extremely effective product formulations and an incredibly inclusive approach to beauty, Topicals has quickly become a Sephora client favorite. “Its Faded product is so popular that we often cannot keep it in stock,” said Venkatesh.
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Krys Lunardo, founder of Sistine and one of the participants in the 2022 Accelerate program, expressed great gratitude about being selected as a finalist: “It feels surreal and it feels validating. It’s a mix of incredibly grateful and excitable emotions, from a full-circle perspective.” Lunardo described Sistine as a skincare company that pays homage to the Bahamas and Colombia, “The environments we were raised in, and how they truly bonded us with mother nature.” The brand creates a balance between human care and eco-care transparently and respectfully. Sister’s Super Fruit Antioxidant Moisturizer is the hero product which is a power moisturizer packed with antioxidants and super fruits, boosting the skin’s integrity for all skin types.
Kiku Chaudhuri, founder of SHAZ & KIKS and one of the Accelerate 2022 finalists, said, “ From the very first day we started conceptualizing our beauty company, our dream was to be part of the Sephora family.” As big practitioners of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest healing system, the founder’s ancestors were the source of knowledge on how to take care of the entire body by harnessing the power of earth’s natural ingredients. Chaudhuri, said, “The formulas and rituals were passed down from many generations of South Asian women but the recipes and traditions have stayed within our communities.” The company’s best-selling, award-winning product is BACK TO OUR ROOTS Scalp+Hair Prewash for all hair types and textures. Chaudhuri discussed how Sephora brings diversity, accessibility, and celebration to beauty: “It’s beyond a pinch-me-moment and we are honored and humbled to be part of the Accelerate program!” The full list of Accelerate program participants can be found in Sephora’s Accelerate .
Building a beauty community
Since the Accelerate program launched in 2016, a total of 58 brands have taken part in the Accelerate program, with many subsequently launching at Sephora, including 2021 graduates 54 Thrones, EADEM and Topicals. When asked about the 2022 cohort Venkatesh said, “Each of these brands has a distinct viewpoint, as founders’ personal stories and backgrounds have shaped their businesses into something truly unique.” Venkatesh discussed how the brands’ product offerings meet an incredibly diverse array of beauty needs, helping to build a beauty community in which there is something for everyone and to which everyone feels they belong.
Sephora has more than 340 curated beauty brands across more than 500 stores in the U.S. market along with 200 Sephora at Kohls