Black women entrepreneurship is on the rise.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Black women-owned businesses grew 67 percent between 2007 and 2012, outpacing the 27 percent growth rate for female-owned businesses. This upward trend is particularly impressive considering the massive hurdles Black women have to jump through in business, like a lack of funding from outside sources. A 2018 ProjectDiane report by Digital Undivided revealed that Black women have raised only .0006 percent of all tech venture funding since 2009.
In the beauty industry, specifically, there has been tremendous innovation and an explosion of brands helmed by Black women in the last several years. While there are various factors driving this uptick, it can’t be overstated how many brands were born out of Black women fulfilling a major need in the market. After all, it’s no secret that for decades products in the beauty aisle tended to exclude women of color—and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty isn’t the only Black-owned beauty company responding to the severe lack of consideration.
Cases in point: CURLS by Mahisha Dellinger, Cashmere Nicole’s Beauty Bakerie, The Lip Bar by Melissa Butler, and Shemika Harmitt’s Prime Beauty. After being frustrated by the lack of products tailored towards their specific beauty needs, these trailblazers took matters into their own hands and created them themselves. Dellinger concocted efficacious natural hair products she struggled to find, while Nicole created long lasting lip colors with clean ingredients. Butler formulated flattering nudes and bright colors for Black and Brown skin and Harmitt made bronzers that would actually show up on deep skin tones.
But that’s only the beginning of their stories. In honor of Black History Month, Supermaker spoke to these groundbreakers about their entrepreneurial journeys, the struggle to secure funding from venture capitalists as Black women, and what they’re most proud of in life. Read on to encounter four brands making major waves in the industry by redefining beauty standards and offering up inclusive products for a multicultural consumer base.