Photo courtesy of Kayla Phillips

7 Black Beauty Entrepreneurs Challenging The Fatigued Status Quo


Last year, only the 14th ever black female entrepreneur raised more than $1M in funding. Discrimination in Venture Capital abounds when it comes to women, that much is certain, but even more so for women of color.

The exact number is unclear, but of the 2 percent of VC funding women received last year, it's estimated that less than 0.1 percent of that was allocated to multicultural women.

Given this, it's almost miraculous that women of color are able to bootstrap their businesses and turn them into long-lasting and relevant brands. The funds afforded to men (and to a smaller extent) white women grant them a cushion with which to pursue that ventures, that black women are simply not granted.

Somewhere black women have found large success against all odds is in the beauty spheres, whereby business is born mostly out of necessity because of neglect from bigger brands. With this in mind, we rounded up 7 beauty entrepreneurs, proving the discriminatory VC world ignorant, while changing the narrative about what it means to be relevant for a multicultural demographic.

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1. Kayla Phillips, Foxie Bombs Cosmetics

This outspoken entrepreneur founded her business with the intricacies of the skin in mind. Since 2015, she has created products ranging from bath bombs and soap to perfume. Her line (currently on hold) is both Vegan and ethically produced here in the U.S.

Phillips told The Fader; "When I see other brands that are owned by white folks and they're using our butters, it kinda makes me turn my head a little bit because these recipes have always been ours. The homemade items and whipping stuff up has always been something people of color have done naturally." Phillips's range is completely her own creation, and made by her own hands. It also happens to be ludicrously pretty. We've bookmarked the site for when Phillips decides to let us back in on her Foxie Bomb experience.

Kayla Phillips. Photo courtesy of Nylon

2. Iman, Iman Cosmetics

Founded in 1994, this beauty brand pioneered the way for most others here in its approach to diversity. Supermodel Iman had spent much of her modeling career being asked "did you bring your own foundation?" by makeup artists, when she decided that question was no longer acceptable.

The entrepreneur told SWAAY, “If you go into a lot of cosmetic stores, you still have the ethnic section in the back. It's like, if you're a company that caters to just women of color, you're sold differently. I wanted there to be options for us." She notes that while larger brands might be becoming more inclusive, there are still more options for women with paler skin. "I was the first company to create bronzers for skin of color, to put SPF in our products, to think of skin care and technology for women of color," she says. Thus, her radical approach back in 1994 became her meal ticket, with the company now estimated to be worth a cool $25M.


3. K.J Miller & Amanda E. Johnson, Mented Cosmetics

There is no nude that suits every skin tone, that much is for sure. So two women came together last year (over a glass of pinot, no less), to launch a beauty line that would cater to every.single.lip. Amanda E. Johnson and K.J Miller created the line in the purview that “every woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty." Challenging an industry that has been slow on the diversity and inclusion uptake is especially inspirational, when something so basic as a nude lip has been taken for granted across all other beauty lines, but for those with paler skin. Miller and Johnson's collection will blow you away with its expansive range, and your basket will no doubt be full by the time you're done on their fun site.

K.J Miller & Amanda E.Johnson

4. Miko Branch, Miss Jessie's

Miko and Titi Branch launched their business, Miss Jessie's, having spent years working on formulas to accentuate black women's natural curls. From their grandmother's kitchen, they concocted recipes that would way day turn into award-winning formulas and a multi-million dollar business. Initially discouraged by the hole in the market that was targeted haircare at the black community. People actually wanted to wear their hair in its naturally curly, kinky or wavey state, but just didn't know how. “To my surprise" she says, “it created a conversation that was favourable. It took me no time to understand that this was our opportunity to get our business back." Branch told SWAAY, that after much experimenting, it was her late sister Titi who cracked the nut, and was the key to success for their first product, 'curly pudding."

Miko Branch

5. Katonya Breaux, Unsun Cosmetics

What's most inspiring about Katonya Breaux's story is not that she raised our beloved Frank Ocean, or even that she became an entrepreneur at a later stage in life, but that she came up with the solution to a problem, that nobody had thought to address before. Breaux's approach to beauty is revolutionary. Her line, Unsun Cosmetics, was founded after she had become disparaged by the lack of sunscreen options for people of color. "Representation needs to be universal," she commented to The Fader.

And indeed her line is representative of just that. According to the brand's description, "Unsun was made specifically for people of color representing the beige to dark chocolate tones of the spectrum. The desire to protect our skin from the sun should not mean having to wear foundation in order to cover the white and gray film that presents after application."

Katonya Breaux and son, Frank Ocean

6. Rihanna, Fenty Beauty

Rihanna veritably broke the internet last year upon the release of her hotly anticipated line, Fenty beauty, and boy, was it worth it. Fenty became the ball park for inclusivity, with 40 shades of foundation and a highlighter that makes every cheek sparkle (for real). With recent reports gauging that the singer's brand might outsell the famed Kylie Cosmetics, we're very interested to see where things lie at the end of this year. With Sephora struggling to keep the Fenty foundation in stock after its release, it was most recently the line of lipsticks that leaped off the shelves, and a quick dabble into highly-pigmented eyeshadows for the singers' line. While we eagerly await the next Fenty product dump, we pause in appreciation for the brand's directionality, which earned it a whopping $72M in its first month.

Rihanna. Photo courtesy of The Source

7. Kim Etheredge & Wendi Levy, Co-Founders, Mixed Chicks

Mixed Chicks founders Kim Etheredge and Wendi Levy mashed together business backgrounds from both coasts to create a line that aims to enhance waves and curls for multicultural women. Having caught the attention of a few noteworthy celebrities, including Ciara and Halle Berry, the ladies launched to wide acclaim. Levy told Dressing Room 8 "There's not just one beauty image anymore, so we can all find something to identify with these days." To date, the pair have launched a plethora of hair products and have even expanded into makeup, with all products extremely Twitteraffordable and widely praised by the ladies of for their effectiveness and pizazz.

Wendi Levy & Kim Etheredge

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.