Live Tinted has closed its seed round of funding, raising more than $3 million, WWD Beauty Inc has learned exclusively.
Led by California-based Montage Ventures, other investors include Jesse Draper’s Halogen Ventures and Curate Capital, which both focus on funding companies with female founders, as well as Fearless Fund, a firm founded by Black women that supports businesses created by women of color.
“Where we’re at right now, I do feel like this brand is bigger than myself,” said Live Tinted founder and chief executive officer Deepica Mutyala, a Texas native of South Asian descent.
“More women of color need to be able to get the opportunity to get funds, and I want to inspire other people and change the statistics out there,” she continued, noting the lack of funding available for women, particularly women of color.
“It was really hard to do this,” Mutyala went on, regarding raising capital. (In 2019, Live Tinted raised a pre-seed round of funding from beauty industry power players that included Bobbi Brown, Toni Ko of NYX Cosmetics and Hayley Barna of Birchbox.) ”We still have to push to have a seat at the table….I think it’s important for other women of color to see that they can do it also. And I want more companies to see this as, you can do it, too, stop acting like it’s so hard. It should be the norm.”
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With the new funds, Mutyala plans to expand the brand’s retail footprint in the fall, grow her team with executive hires and new product development.
“I want every product to feel like a hero product and something that people need in their lives that simplify their lives and are very problem- and solution-oriented,” said Mutyala, who recently launched the Hueguard, a primer and moisturizer with SPF 30 that doesn’t leave a white cast. “If you actually listen and create products that you feel like you haven’t seen as a person of color, people will resonate with that.”
The entrepreneur began her career as an intern at L’Oréal before joining Birchbox. But her life took a turn in early 2015, after she uploaded a YouTube video of herself applying red lipstick to color correct her under eye circles. The clip went viral (nearly 11 million views to date), and she began building a following, then her brand, Live Tinted, which has a 68 percent repeat customer rate. Industry sources estimate the brand will do between $5 million and $10 million in sales this year.
Going from “a beauty exec to an influencer to now [having] my own beauty brand, it is surreal, to say the least,” Mutyala said.
She’s created a board, all people of color, composed of herself alongside Neilesh Mutyala, president of Live Tinted, Sherry Jhawar, president and cofounder of Blended Strategy Group, and Daphne Che, principal at Montage Ventures.
“We started as a community brand,” Mutyala said of plans ahead. “And that, to me, is also a core pillar of the brand I don’t want to lose, which means overinvesting in storytelling and the community and giving them a platform to be able to tell their stories. I wanted to create a brand that had a purpose behind it, and really make it so colorism was not a thing for the next generation. So, with that comes skin tone conversations, diversity and inclusion…and then doing the right thing is a part of that, which means being clean, vegan and cruelty free, [having] efforts toward sustainability.”