It really is easy to launch a beauty brand, just ask these women how

Sephora’s Accelerate Cohort program nurtures female-founded beauty brands on the brink of booming.

Ask Sephora Australia’s head of buying, Sophie Bottwood, what she looks for in burgeoning beauty brands and checklist is clear: “passion and drive”, a “clear sense of vision” and “relevance for today and tomorrow’s market”.

It’s not an insurmountable list but longevity isn’t a given for any start-up, let alone an up-and-comer trying to break into the billion dollar beauty industry. Add to that the well-documented difficulties women often have sourcing funding and finding support and you’ve got, we imagine, millions of great ideas shelved or left to wither in the ‘too hard basket’.

It makes sense then that Sephora would step in, offering a nurturing network of fellow female-founders and industry advisers with their Accelerate Cohort program.

Founded in 2016, the program launched with the aim of “growing the number of female founders within the beauty industry” Bottwood says, adding the beauty hub that is Sephora now has 31 founders within this hand-picked alumni cohort. The company’s initial aim to support 50 women-led businesses by 2020 looks to be in site.

The 2019 intake included 15 founders hailing from all parts of the globe, across a multitude of beauty and wellness-related areas and this year two Australian’s made the cut.

Tonik founder Pip Summerville and Bread Beauty Supply founder, Maeva Heim, both founders of fledgling businesses you can expect to see a lot more of.

Tonik, says Summerville, is the answer to convenient and nourishing organic supplements. The founder and creative director, whose brand officially has the Goop stamp-of-approval, tells Vogue the support of Sephora has been “priceless”.

Likewise, Heim, whose haircare brand Bread Beauty Supply is designed to service the “multi-cultural beauty consumer”, whose hair texture (curly, coily or afro) is not currently being catered to, says being selected has been an “exciting, humbling, and nerve-wracking at the same time”.

“I think being selected also comes with a great deal of responsibility. I want to make Sephora Australia, and the wider beauty community, feel proud of the choice that they’ve made, so now I have an even stronger sense of drive to ensure the brand’s success and social impact,” Heim says of the program which offers mentoring, funding and strategy.

Bottwood says she will continue to mentor and support Heim and Summerville in their pursuits leaving us with some wise words for those who want to build something of their own.

Just “do it!” the buyer and Sephora staffer says, adding that to launch your dream you just need to put that plan into action and “have a clear strategy and define your customer – a lot of brands we see try to be all things to all people”. And never forget, “aesthetic is key!”


Author: Ben