Inside Look: AVEENO® Skin Health Startup Accelerator Pitch Competition
Designed for Black women entrepreneurs in the skincare and scalp care industry, Aveeno® created the Skin Health Startup Accelerator program to provide access, education, and resources to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Recognizing the potential of the solutions these entrepreneurs could provide to the industry, Aveeno® and ESSENCE set out to support women who are determined to make a profound impact on the health and beauty of all skin through this information destination and the Pitch Competition.
In December 2020, Black female entrepreneurs with an innovative product, brand or technology that addresses Black consumer skincare needs were called to enter the AVEENO® SKIN HEALTH STARTUP ACCELERATOR. This pitch competition was designed to propel the business of an emerging entrepreneur by giving her a chance to compete for a $100,000 grant and mentorship opportunities from AVEENO® business leaders, industry experts and ESSENCE®.
After receiving more than 100 inspiring entries, our panel of judges evaluated each brand’s pitch on their originality, innovation and thoughtfulness, and how they would advance the skin health of black consumers. Then came the live event when entrepreneurs pitched to the judges virtually from all over the country. The judges also took into consideration whether or not their product was different from what is already in the marketplace and how they were aligned with AVEENO’s values—leveraging the power of nature and science. And finally, the judges evaluated the brand’s strategy and business plan.
Alodia Hair Care™ founder, Dr. Isfahan Chambers Harris, has been revealed as the first-ever recipient of the Aveeno Skin Health Startup Accelerator. Dr. Isfahan will receive the tools and funding necessary to grow her business including a $100,000 grant and ongoingmentorship and a feature in ShopEssence – ESSENCE’s e-commerce portal. Holding back tears and hearing her family cheering in the background, Dr. Isfahan said that, while we see just her, she stands on the shoulders of husband, her family and her customer base, “I’m so humbled and grateful for this opportunity, this is life-changing for us,” she says. “Just to have this validation means the world to us
As a trained PhD Scientist, Dr. Isfahan has used her expertise plus personal experience with damaged scalp and broken strands to launch Alodia Hair Care™. The brand offers science-based hair and scalp products made with clean, natural ingredients. After speaking with hundreds of people about their hair care regimens, she saw a trend with textured hair types and scalp disorders, such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff. “I’m honored to be the first Black women entrepreneur Grand Prize winner of the Aveeno® Skin Health Startup Accelerator program,” Dr. Isfahan says. “This is substantial in helping my company grow our business and fill a need that Black women consumers are searching for when it comes to scalp health. The support and recognition from industry-leading brands like Aveeno® and Essence is powerful and so important in building a more inclusive industry, which I’m grateful to be a part of.”
In a fun and inspiring twist, AVEENO® also awarded a second grant to finalist Ariane Turner, founder of Look Good Live Well™. She will receive a $100,000 grant in addition to mentorship session and a feature on ShopEssence. After battling stress-induced acne for most of her adult life, Ariane Turner transformed the pressure to present a flawless face into her skin care brand. Full of nourishing ingredients that support your journey to optimum skin health, these products are specifically for Black women. “I’m excited to use the $100,000 to collaborate with a team of creative Black women freelancers to catapult my business to the next level,” says Ariane.
Looking forward, AVEENO® plans to continue the Skin Health Startup Accelerator to bring forth opportunities for Black women with the desire to create meaningful change within the skincare industry. “This is only the beginning,” AVEENO® Senior Director, Suzanne Goldstein says. “There is unlimited potential surrounding the impact we can make within the skincare industry and for Black consumers, specifically. The passion Black women have for changing the course of representation in beauty is inspiring and our brand is proud to be able to support their journey.” Visit Essence.com/Aveeno to learn more about Alodia Hair Care™ and Look Good Live Well™, in addition to more about the AVEENO® Skin Health Startup Accelerator, including resources and tools for all entrepreneurs.
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