Mented Cosmetics is a beauty company that strives to provide clean beauty to everyone, with a large focus on providing women of color with more flattering everyday beauty options. The pair of friends who founded the company in 2017 still own it, and they have expanded steadily over the last few years.
Is Mented Cosmetics Black Owned?
Mented Cosmetics was launched in March of 2017 by two friends who met in college at Harvard Business School. Since both women are Black, Mented Cosmetics is black-owned.
Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller founded the company to create the perfect nude lipstick for people of every skin tone. They wanted to make sure that Black and Brown people had access to products that flatter their skin tones.
When they first started the business, the two women were producing the lipsticks straight from their apartment, and they started the company with less than $20,000. They aimed to ensure that the lipsticks had enough pigment to show up on dark skin and be flattering. Since pigment was so vital in the creation of the company’s first products, the friends decided to name the company “Mented.”
To determine the colors that would make up the original collection, the founders used their own skin colors as a foundation. From that point, they expanded using the skin tones of many different women. They wanted to focus on providing “everyday”, and “natural” beauty options for women of color since products marketed to these women are often bolder and more colorful.
In addition to providing women of color with great lipstick and later other makeup, the company started with a few other goals in mind. The founders wanted to offer a higher-end option to women of color rather than the drugstore brands that often market to women of color.
The founders also wanted to provide vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and non-toxic products. This choice is because the company wanted to make sure that customers understood the amount of thought and effort that went into the development of these products.
They also wanted to fill a void they found in the beauty industry. When the company began, there were no brands that provided clean, everyday beauty focused on women of color.
Founders Raise $1 Million in Capital
In the Fall of 2017, the founders of Mented Cosmetics became the 15th and 16th African-American women to ever raise a million dollars in pre-seeding venture capital for the company. They used this money to fund marketing and to grow their business.
This growth involved increasing the size of their team and expanding the products they offered.
This amount was twice as much as they initially aimed to get. The company was popular enough that it hit a higher milestone. Some participants in this funding included iSeed Ventures, Built By Girls Ventures, and Outbound Ventures.
Raising this money is particularly notable because black entrepreneurs get less than 1% of venture capital funding in the U.S. Black women only receive 0.2% of venture capital funding. On average, most startups founded by a black woman raise about $36,000.
Soon, the nude lipstick led to many other products, including eyeshadow, blush, nail polish, and many other products. The releases of these products are gradual, but consistent since the company strives to always be developing new products. They do this while keeping this development on classic products rather than developing with trends in mind.
The formulation of these products takes the top tone and undertone into account. While this may seem like a low-level consideration, many beauty brands do not take dimensions of tone into account when creating products for women of color.
As the company grows, it does so with consideration of the desires of the customers in mind. The company wants to make sure that the needs of its customers are central to Mented’s production and actions, rather than an afterthought. It does this by listening to customer feedback and by watching customer responses.
The company used social media and influencer marketing to get the word out. Mented sent samples of their products to internet personalities and influencers who spread the word about the company’s products using their platforms. From that point, customers who tried the products expanded Mented’s profile using word of mouth on the internet.
While the company initially just sold products through its website, Mented also launched its products in Target in 2020 and Ulta in 2021.
In 2018 the company raised $3 million in a seed round with the help of its lead investor, CircleUp Growth Partners. This money helped the company expand distribution and the company’s size.
Mented works to ensure that women of color are a part of the company at every level. These actions include people who work for the business and the people who are cast in photo shoots. The company also strives to provide resources to minority-focused charities and build up its community.
In January of 2022, Mented closed a $5 million deal. CircleUp Growth Partners and Corazon Capital will work together in this new series of cosmetics.
The company plans to use this money to build its company and expand domestic and international distribution. As well as establishing a few new positions like a brand marketing executive, a growth executive and a finance executive. All head positions.
With this financing, the company projects that it will triple its retail business in 2022 with a 60% increase in DTC sales. The company hopes to expand its presence from 487 Ulta stores to 587 and its presence in Target from 293 to 515 stores.
Is Mented Cosmetics Black Owned? Final Thoughts
Mented Cosmetics, black-owned and expanding, works to make sure that the products it produces are functional and flattering for all of its customers, with a particular focus on centering women of color. After starting the business from their apartment with less than $20,000, the company is currently valued in the millions, and Mented is still expanding.