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10 New Female Business Leaders Selected For Sephora Accelerate Cohort

Sephora, the global leader in prestige beauty retail, announced today the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the 2017 Sephora Accelerate Cohort, SEPHORA’s program supporting a growing community of female founders in all areas of the beauty industry through a collaborative structure with a focus on social impact. This year’s participants were selected from among hundreds of applicants across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil and will be mentored by beauty industry leaders, including Pamela Baxter, Founder of Bonafide Beauty Lab, and Dianna Ruth, Chief Operating Officer of Milk Makeup.

“The 10 female leaders chosen for our 2017 Cohort represent an exciting mix of product brands, cutting edge technology, and sustainability-focused entrepreneurs,” said Corrie Conrad, Head of Social Impact & Sustainability for Sephora. “We’re excited to mentor this next generation of leaders, as we march towards our goal of supporting more than 50 women-led beauty businesses with a social impact through bootcamps, mentorship, and funding by 2020.”

Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are underrepresented. Sephora Accelerate is SEPHORA’s commitment to encourage female founders in the beauty industry. Through an intensive bootcamp and more than six months of mentorship, founders join an ecosystem of support and are offered insight, instruction and access to the relevant networks to take their business to the next level and help design the future of beauty.

Meet the 2017 Sephora Accelerate Cohort:

Adriana Oyevides, founder and CEO of Aloe Vida (Mexico City, Mexico)

Aloe Vida is a line of self-care products using organic, Ecocert, Kosher, and food-grade Mexican Aloe Vera as a main ingredient. This high-quality line of products combines selected natural ingredients to give skin nourishment, health, and beauty.

“We have a strong commitment to use sustainable and natural ingredients to lower our footprint as a company and to help people to have healthy skin while caring for the earth and respecting animals.”

Barb Stegemann, founder and CEO of The 7 Virtues (Halifax, Canada)

Motivated to act after her best friend was severely wounded serving the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, Barb wanted to carry on his mission of peace and created The 7 Virtues as a “socially responsible fragrance” company. The company sources fair market essential oils from nations rebuilding after war or strife, including Rwanda, Afghanistan, Haiti, India, and the Middle East.

“Social impact is the goal of our company, our raison d’etre, it is our why. I want to leave a better footprint on this earth than I found and communicate new stories of harmony and peace.”

Dana Rae Ashburn, founder and CEO of ABLE Cosmetics (Brooklyn, NY)

ABLE Cosmetics is a solution-oriented beauty brand aiming to solve everyday beauty problems through user-friendly tools, instructions and tutorials. Dana’s own experiences with a learning disability inspired her to create a line of patented color tools as a way to provide hands-on learning experiences for her clients.

“ABLE’s primary goal is to empower and enABLE others to believe in and apply their individual skills. Bringing social awareness to people with disabilities will be very fulfilling for both the brand and me.”

Jihan Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Swivel Beauty (New York, NY)

Swivel Beauty is a digital platform that’s revolutionizing how women of color discover and book hair appointments with talented stylists who are equipped to work with their unique hair type and texture. A veteran editor of top women’s magazines, Jihan and her co-founder designed a “Yelp-like” listing system which curates stylists based on referrals.

“As a female entrepreneur focusing on the black haircare market, it can be hard to convince people who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the black hair space that the problem we’re solving matters—but we’re proving that it does.”

Kirsty Williams, co-founder and co-CEO of DashHound (San Francisco, CA)

DashHound is a data-science backed social commerce platform for beauty, making it easier for users to follow their favorite influencers and purchase the products they recommend.

“The biggest challenge has been explaining to people outside of our target market what our vision for DashHound is and having them see how disruptive it can be to the beauty community.”

Marta Cros, founder and CEO of The Ritualist (Brooklyn, NY)

The Ritualist offers in-home, professional skincare treatments performed by licensed estheticians. Appointments replicate the spa experience in your own home and include full-service facials with APTO skincare, the in-house line of plant-based fermented skincare products

“I am most proud that I am able to support my network of beauty professionals through a decent pay that triples the national average, and offers the sometimes much needed flexibility to balance their passion for skincare with family obligations.”

Mary Futher, founder and CEO of Kaia Naturals (Toronto, Canada)

Kaia Naturals is an indie eco-beauty brand that produces 100% non-toxic and cruelty-free products. Applying her minimalist beauty principals to her brand, Mary created Kaia’s Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths, offering a completely natural alternative to rayon cleansing cloths, as well as a line of natural deodorants made from charcoal.

“The isolation when building a business on your own is often difficult. I’m excited for the opportunity to be mentored and have access to the executives with experience in the beauty business.”

Pollini Jorio, co-founder and CEO of Brandlovers (San Paulo, Brazil)

Brandlovers is an app that matches users with the best beauty products for them, using big data and machine learning.

“Our goal is to understand and help every single user in a customized way. Finding the best product is a global need, regardless of skin and hair type, income, and store location.”

Sara Panton, co-founder and CEO of Vitruvi (Vancouver, Canada)

At Vitruvi we believe that products should be multipurpose and that they should be good for both people and the planet. We source traditional essential oils from over 30 countries and formulate them in contemporary ways for every facet of a women’s day.

“I believe that being a female founder in our industry has helped me. I relate to the women who use our products, and I’m able to see the company through the perspective of the customer when navigating large company decisions.”

Yve-Car Momperousse, founder and CEO of Kreyol Essence (Homestead, Florida)

Kreyol Essence is an eco-luxury brand that creates 100% natural and ethical beauty products from Haiti with a focus on hair and skin. Their signature product is black castor oil, a century old wonder cure sustainably harvested by farmers, produced by over 50 women, and exported to the US, Canada, and Europe.

“Being ethical is part of our DNA and comes very natural for us. By nature, I am a coalition builder that enjoys creating an environment where people feel safe to be themselves and connect.”

Please visit SEPHORA STANDS to learn more about the program, its benefits and this year’s Cohort. @Sephora @SephoraStands #SephoraStands

About Sephora

Sephora is a leader in global prestige retail, teaching and inspiring clients to play in a world of beauty. Sephora has earned its reputation with its expertise, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, and has been a pioneer in an unbiased approach to experiential retail since its debut in Paris in the early 1970’s. A year after its acquisition by luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1997, Sephora expanded to North America with a revolutionary store model that broke the beauty experience mold, and continues to evolve today. Now with more than 430 stores in the Americas—including US, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil—plus nearly 600 inside JCPenney, Sephora has become a leading international beauty destination with over 2,300 locations in 33 countries, plus an award-winning website, and intuitive mobile apps. At Sephora, whether beauty is an obsession or part of a routine, clients have the opportunity to play with 14,000 products from 200 carefully curated brands, featuring indie darlings, emerging favorites, trusted classics, and Sephora’s own, SEPHORA COLLECTION. In store, the client can access personalized recommendations at the Beauty Studio through interactive technology like the IQ systems, and garner a new look with makeovers, complimentary classes, hands-on events, and one-on-one consultations, all assisted by Sephora’s expertly trained beauty advisors who offer unbiased advice on every brand, in every beauty category. Online clients interact with an inclusive beauty community on the award-winning Beauty Board, interactive Beauty Talk, and through social media @Sephora. On their mobile device, clients can get inspired to try new looks through groundbreaking digital innovations, like Sephora Virtual Artist, and access one-of-a-kind, mobile-first experiences, like The Beauty Uncomplicator and Swipe It Shop It. And Sephora Beauty Insider clients feed their beauty addiction with unique rewards and customized on-of-a-kind experiences. Sephora offers endless ways to explore beauty. With Sephora Stands, Sephora’s multi-pronged social impact program, the retailer continues to support its community and its people via Sephora Accelerate, Classes for Confidence and Sephora Stands Together. For the latest, visit

2 thoughts on “10 New Female Business Leaders Selected For Sephora Accelerate Cohort

  • Hi Barb Stegemann- I think your work in Afghanistan and other countries in having locals produce essential oils for your perfumes is wonderful. A true example of what can be done to promote employment after war torn/earthquake etc. nations have lost everything!!! Keep up the good work. Steve Smith, Halifax

    • You are very kind Steve! Your words mean a lot to me. I just finished a week of boot camp with the Sephora Accelerator.
      It’s truly guided me to take our vision of peace through trade in Afghanistan and beyond to another level. Your words
      encourage me. Peace, Barb

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