Persistence Pays off
March 19th, 2019
In today’s environment, where women raise 2 percent of venture capital money and women of color raise 0.2 percent of that, Mented Cosmetics Co founder Amanda Johnson bucked all the norms and raised $4 million for her line of makeup for women of color. Her secret? Persistence.
Tuesday March 19th, LadyDrinks hosted a fireside chat with two minority women role models: Amanda Johnson, co founder of Mented Cosmetics. She bucked all the assumptions about women of color and Former Miss America Nina Davuluri, who was panned in the headlines the day after she got her crown, asking “Is she too dark to be Miss America?” Takeaways from the talk listed below. Complete audio of event here. )
ANY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS IS ONE THAT SOLVES A PROBLEM
Mented Cosmetics co founders Amanda and KJ already knew they worked well together from their time at Harvard Business School working on a musical. After graduation, they continued to meet over wine every two weeks to just talk business ideas. It was in one of these sessions, they both discovered that they wanted the perfect nude lipstick for women of color. It was a pain point in the market they could fill.
BE AUTHENTIC AND TRUE TO YOURSELF
For one of the pageants Nina entered, she did a Bollywood style dance because she thought it would be more palatable for the American judges. However, she had been trained in Bharatnatyam and Kuchipuri classical dance. She was first runner up. When she won the crown, she did it her way and performed a classical dance form that was more true to who she was. She wanted to change the brand that Miss America was. She had never seen someone who looked like her have the crown.
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
Amanda and KJ searched videos on YouTube to learn how to create lipsticks. After ordering everything they’d need to create nude shades for women with brown skin, the two started hand-making samples inside their apartments in Harlem. They messaged influencers on Instagram and Youtube and mailed them product. Eventually, Mented was EVERYWHERE. Amanda recalled the inflection point when they knew they had something. But it was their weekend after weekend of persistent mailing that eventually paid off.
HAVE A PLATFORM, NOT JUST A PRODUCT
Nina and Aavrani co founder Rooshy Roy created their skincare line to not only help women of color access wonderful ingredients found in our mothers’ kitchens like Neem and Turmeric, but also to change the conversation around skin tone and self worth. The headlines around Nina’s Miss America title win were quite nasty because of her skin color. She also observed the skin lightening industry in India and how it was marketed. Today, Aavrani is a skin care brand, but more importantly, its a platform to educate women on skin tone and self worth.
FIND THE COMPLETE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE TALK, CLICK HERE
CEO OF LIVELY RAISED $15 MILLION
March 28th at 11am, OUR FIRST VIRTUAL CHAT guest is South Asian female powerhouse Michelle Cordeiro Grant. After a stint at Victoria’s Secret, she realized that the 7 billion dollar lingerie industry was told from one point of view. She didn’t see herself in the models wearing VS bras and panties. So she raised $15 million for her inclusive and community driven lingerie line Lively