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Ami Colé Inks First Retail Deal With Sephora

The brand, founded in 2021 with the aim of catering to the needs of melanin-rich skin, will roll out to 277 U.S. Sephora doors on Dec. 30. 

Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye, founder of makeup brand Ami Colé, is having a full-circle moment. 

After launching Ami Colé in 2021 with the aim of delivering quality cosmetics to those with darker skin tones, N’Diaye-Mbaye has landed her first retail partnership with Sephora — where the founder previously worked as a sales associate during her undergraduate years at Syracuse University. 

N’Diaye-Mbaye went on to complete stints at L’Oréal and Glossier before harnessing her dexterity in product development for her own brand, Ami Colé, which will roll out online and at 277 U.S. Sephora doors beginning Dec. 30. 

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“It’s been both surprising and energizing to see that our thesis was correct: that women of color are looking for new ways to show up in the world using makeup, while still looking like themselves, being themselves and seeing themselves represented well beyond the breadth of shades, but makeup style in general,” N’Diaye-Mbaye said. 

Ami Colé launched in May 2021 with three products: a skin tint, lip oil and highlighter. Today, the brand’s portfolio also includes concealer, loose powder, mascara, eyebrow products and even incense and a bucket hat, ranging in price from $19 to $133. 

“When I think of the brand and our products, I think about how we can extend beyond the makeup bag,” said N’Diaye-Mbaye, whose 360-degree approach to brand building was informed in part by her own experience growing up in a Harlem, New York, hair salon helmed by her mother, Aminata, or Ami for short. 

“Growing up in Harlem, it was an entire vibe and culture that created our beauty experience — it was the music that was playing on the radio, it was the Apollo Theater two blocks away, it was ‘Moesha’ playing on the TV — all of that is what made the salon so special,” N’Diaye-Mbaye recalled.

New concealer and skin tint shades are in the pipeline for Ami Colé, which is available online at Thirteen Lune, and whose Lip Treatment Oil — a bestseller — is also available online at Violet Grey and Goop. 

“Each one of our new launches is having a moment of its own, some driven by community, others driven by awards, like Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards; it’s been a crazy year and a half, but we’re just getting started,” N’Diaye-Mbaye said.

While the founder did not comment on sales expectations for the brand, industry sources estimate Ami Colé is on track to reach $2.5 million in sales by the end of 2022.

“In the next phase of our life, brand identity, affinity and awareness are going to be super important for us, and Sephora just proves time and time again that they are the best contender to help build brands and discoverability,” N’Diaye-Mbaye said of why she sought to partner with the retailer. 

Alison Hahn, senior vice president of merchandising makeup and fragrance at Sephora echoed this enthusiasm in an email to Beauty Inc, writing, “Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye is fearlessly dedicated to changing beauty industry standards, and we admire her commitments to bringing these products to underserved clients.”

Ultimately, N’Diaye-Mbaye has worldwide plans for Ami Colé, eyeing expansions into the U.K. — where the beauty scene has been abuzz as of late — and the continent of Africa in the coming years.

“My eyes are on the prize: my goal is to get into as many black and brown hands as possible,” N’Diaye-Mbaye said.