Cantu Elevate is the brand-owned initiative and entrepreneurship accelerator program from award-winning multicultural hair and skincare brand, Cantu Beauty. Brain Trust Founders Studio (BTFS) is the beauty and wellness membership platform for Black founders. Together, Cantu and BTFS have selected the 2022 Cantu Elevate $20,000 grant winner: Ezinne Iroanya. Iroanya is the founder and CEO of SKNMUSE, a skin and body care brand that prioritizes “elevating the beauty experience for Black women” while utilizing clean ingredients as well as clean beauty practices adopted from West Africa.
“Black founders are filled with ideas and dreams that sometimes die with them,” Ezinne Iroanya, founder and CEO of SKNMUSE explains. “That is why initiatives like Cantu Elevate and BrainTrust Founders Studio are important. They provide resources for companies like mine to thrive on fertile soil.”
About the competition
Each competing founder participated in masterclasses led by Cantu and its partner agencies — BrainTrust, The Sasha Group and Reddish. The goal was to strengthen their business and marketing acumen and subsequently grow their budding businesses. The finalists advanced in the selection process through their engaging pitches presented live and virtually at the BTFS Founders House last weekend in New Orleans. Cantu and BTFS awarded finalists Rachel Lambo, founder of Sade Baron and Kim Roxie, founder of Lamik Beauty, $10,000 grants. Additionally, they awarded $1,000 grants to the remaining five competitors for their participation. A total of $45,000 was awarded throughout the program.
The 2022 Cantu Elevate winner Ezinne Iroanya will join Dametria Kinsley, Vice President of Global Marketing at Cantu Beauty for the BTFS B School: Business of Beauty Summit in Atlanta this October to share how her business has expanded with the support of Cantu Elevate and supporting agencies.
“Exposure is everything.” says Dametria Kinsley, Vice President of Global Marketing at Cantu Beauty. “Cantu is proud to help expose Black Female Founders to the tools and resources that have helped us grow over the years. The ultimate goal is to build better business ecosystems to support and shape the future of beauty, which is more diverse and female-led than it has ever been before.”
Cantu Elevate is just one of Cantu Beauty’s commitments to elevate Black communities. Last year, the brand began a multi-year relationship with nonprofit Gyrl Wonder. The goal of this partnership is to support Black and Latina communities. They aim to nurture the next generation of female leaders from curl to toe. The partnership continues this year with Gyrl Wonder’s #GyrlGetHired programming, powered by Cantu.
About Cantu Beauty
It’s Cantu Beauty’s mission to celebrate you in all your glory. Whether you’re rocking coils, curls, waves, or straight tresses, Cantu designs products specifically with you and your hair’s versatility in mind. Cantu’s collection of award-winning products is inspired by beautifully textured hair to help you achieve any look you desire. With a one-of-a-kind formula, Cantu helps achieve everything from cutting-edge looks to classic styles. Cantu Beauty is a part of PDC Wellness & Personal Care. For more information, visit pdcwellness.com.
About Braintrust Founders Studio
Through community, education, mentorship and venture capital, BrainTrust Founders Studio is creating an ecosystem for Black founders of beauty and wellness companies. Founded by Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, BrainTrust Founders Studio supports beauty and wellness founders at all stages of their journey– from start to growth to acceleration by providing access to key partners, retail, service providers and programming. Alongside the studio and agency, BrainTrust recently launched BrainTrust Fund 1 to further invest in qualifying founders.
Related: read more on Lioness about Crowdfunding Success and Failure: What Actually Happens During a Campaign.