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Harvard Business grads KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson once pondered, over a glass of wine, why it was so hard for them to find a perfect shade of nude lipstick that would complement their darker skin tones. From that conversation the idea for cosmetic line, Mented Cosmetics was born.
Beginning a cosmetics line when neither had a background in cosmetics wasn’t easy. Both knew they wanted to create a better brand of make-up for women with dark skin. Putting up $10,000 – $15,000 of their own money KJ and Amanda handmade test samples of their products and got them in the hands of makeup artists and potential consumers across the U.S. After determining they had a viable product they knew they needed more money to produce and distribute their product to the masses.
Initially, the 31 year-olds planned to only secure $500,000 in seed funding but found more investor interest than they anticipated. The women successfully raised $400,000 in pre-seed funding with the next round of funding coming from various angel investors and venture capital firms bringing the funds raised to over $1 Million. This spectacular feat landed the two the 15th and 16th spots on the Forbes list of Black Women to ever raise $1 Million in capital.
Mented Cosmetics, according to their site, is vegan, paraben free, non-toxic, cruelty free and made in the U.S.A. The investment will fund an expanded product line which officially launched in March 2017, staff additions and increased marketing which had been word of mouth. Check out Mented Cosmetics here.
A subtle, but important factor in these young entrepreneurs being able to raise capital is that they created a minimally viable product and proved there was a market for it, but also they invested their own money into the project which showed their commitment to their product. What are some of the challenges that you have experienced in raising money to start or expand your business?