Announcement: Sephora has decided that they’re no longer satisfied with simply feeding our beauty addiction. They want to pave the way for the next round of female beauty entrepreneurs, and we are ALL for this idea. In a recent press release, the company announced plans for Sephora Accelerate, a program created to help female beauty entrepreneurs get much-needed support for their businesses.
Sephora created the program in response to the super depressing statistics regarding female entrepreneurs, especially in the beauty industry. In a market dominated by female customers, a ridiculous amount of brands are actually male-owned. Sephora itself was founded by a male perfumer. In the brand’s press release, they noted that 85% of startups receiving backing from venture capitalists are led by men. “Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented. We see a unique opportunity to draw from our history of working with entrepreneurs to build a supportive community for early-stage female founders,” notes Corrie Conrad, Head of Social Impact at Sephora, on the Accelerate website.
The program will support 10 early-stage startups run by woman by providing mentorships, enrolling them in a bootcamp at Sephora’s San Francisco headquarters, giving them $2,500 in seed money, and giving them a stage to present their ideas or products at on a demo day sometime in August.
As Fashionista notes, $2,500 isn’t a large sum of money, but the networking opportunities this program will allow for are unparalleled. Sephora is one of the biggest prestige beauty retailers in the world. The program aims to develop and nurture 50 female-fronted beauty startups through the year 2020.
The inaugural selected class of participants will be announced in March. The application process closed on December 31st, 2015. Startup applicants were required to have a female founder, a socially-conscious mission, and be somehow beauty-related, whether it be physical products, apps, services, or something else we haven’t quite thought of yet.
Sephora Accelerate is part of the company’s larger initiative to start giving back, known as Sephora Stands Together. Other facets of the initiative will aim to provide employees with assistance and support during times of hardship after natural disasters and domestic instability. The program will also begin to offer free beauty classes for women reentering the workforce or going through domestic hardship, such as transitional living, starting in April.
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