In its third year, Sephora has selected 13 female entrepreneurs from around the world for its Accelerate Cohort, its largest initiative to date.
The Sephora Accelerate Cohort is a program that gives female entrepreneurs guidance and workshops to develop their skills to create and maintain successful businesses. They also receive one-on-one mentorship from Sephora leaders, like Pamela Baxter, founder of Bona Fide Beauty Labs, and Nancy Twine, founder and chief executive officer of Briogeo Hair Care.
“We’re interested in building an ecosystem of support for these women,” said Corrie Conrad, head of social impact and sustainability for Sephora. “The community focus is really important for us. This isn’t a competition and there is no winner at the end, so that’s been a guiding theme as we build our annual cohort.”
The 13 women, up from 10 from last year, were chosen for merchandising, technology or sustainability. For the first time, the group includes women from regions in Europe and Asia as well as the U.S. The women were selected based on a number of criteria, including their business plan, passion and commitment to social impact.
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“One of the key elements of the accelerate program is that these businesses are committed to the greater good in some way,” Conrad continued. “That can be through responsible sourcing through the supply side and the way these companies are using their strengths for the greater good.”
As part of the accelerate program, the female entrepreneurs will receive monetary grants to support their businesses and take part in the annual Sephora Accelerate Demo Day, where they pitch their businesses to industry executives and potential investors.
The accelerate program was initially started to close the gender gap within the beauty industry, where women are still underrepresented. Sephora’s goal for the initiative is to support more than 50 female-led businesses by 2020.
This year’s Sephora Accelerate Cohort includes Cathy Han, ceo of 42 Technologies; Ming Zhao, ceo of Proven; Nelly Pitt, ceo of BeautyMix; Erika Milczek, ceo of Curie Co.; Kylee Guenther, ceo of Spectalite; Cat Chen, ceo of Skyler Body; Kristen Miller, ceo of Mented Cosmetics; Brandi Leifso, ceo of Evelyn Iona Cosmetics; Iliana Loza, ceo of Ahal; Heather Ridout, ceo of Okira; Anju Rupal, ceo of Abhati Suisse; Laure Bouguen, ceo of Ho Karan, and Shuting Hu, ceo of SkinData. These women represent the U.S., France, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland and China.