Sephora, the leading beauty retailer, announced the creation of Sephora Accelerate, a new program established to foster early-stage beauty businesses founded by female entrepreneurs. Sephora Accelerate is a key initiative of Sephora Stands, the company’s broad new social impact strategy built on the pillars of philanthropy, aligned social engagement, and shared value, to inspire confidence and fearlessness among women. Comprised of three distinct programs designed to address the needs of entrepreneurs, communities, and Sephora employees, Sephora Stands will continue to take shape throughout 2016, exclusively in the Sephora Americas region.
“Sephora is uniquely positioned to support and inspire women as they achieve their goals, and from the beginning, it’s been among the top requests from both our clients and our employees,” said Calvin McDonald, President and CEO of Sephora Americas. “While past efforts have been effective on a local level, Sephora Stands is a holistic new strategy, spearheaded by our Head of Social Impact, Corrie Conrad, which allows us to better leverage the depth of our expertise and the incredible passion of our employees for a more focused result.”
Sephora Stands is the latest example of the company’s unrivaled leadership in the beauty industry, and born from the belief that beauty is for each person to define and for Sephora to celebrate in all its diversity. Sephora is pioneering these three new initiatives to build a long-term social impact program by cultivating the next generation of beauty businesses, creating community social engagement, and strengthening the support system for its employees.
- Sephora Accelerate
Currently, female entrepreneurs do not have the same access to funding, connections, or business instruction as male entrepreneurs do, a fact reflected by the statistic that 85% of venture capital funded start-ups are led exclusively by men.* Recognizing that even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented, Sephora designed the Sephora Accelerate program to build a community of innovative female founders in all areas of the beauty industry. Sephora Accelerate eschews a competition-style format and instead embraces a more collaborative and supportive structure, creating an approach that catalyzes growth and infuses social impact into each brand’s work.
Qualifying candidates are invited to apply for one of up to 10 coveted spots in the year-long program, with applications reviewed in partnership with OpenIDEO, the social innovation platform of IDEO, the award-winning global design firm. Each “Fellow” must meet specific criteria, including being a founder or co-founder of their business, being committed to building social impact into the company’s DNA, and fitting within two broad categories: leading a company that creates a cosmetic product, or a company that creates technology or provides services related to beauty or that could be relevant to the beauty industry.
Once selected, the Fellows participate in a bootcamp at Sephora’s headquarters in San Francisco designed to teach the necessary skills to run and build their businesses. They also gain access to an exclusive mentorship program comprised of Sephora’s network of beauty industry leaders, and become eligible for possible funding through Sephora. The goal of Sephora Accelerate is, by 2020, to support more than 50 women-led beauty businesses with a social impact through bootcamps, mentorship, and small loans.
Sephora will be announcing the inaugural Sephora Accelerate Cohort in March 2016.
- Classes for Confidence
Sephora will also introduce Classes for Confidence in April 2016, an initiative that utilizes the company’s existing infrastructure and programs for even greater good. This series of specialized in-store classes are complimentary and were developed to help inspire confidence in women facing major life transitions. Classes for Confidence offer a supportive environment where participants can learn and have fun, while also empowering Sephora store employees to make a difference in their communities. Currently being piloted in six states, the program has already benefitted local women re-entering the workforce, and those in transitional housing and shelter programs.
Sephora aims to inspire confidence in 100,000 women by 2020 through these special classes.
- Sephora Stands Together
The final pillar of SEPHORA Stands is the creation of Sephora Stands Together, a new philanthropic emergency and hardship fund designed to support all eligible employees in times of need. Sephora Stands Together provides short-term assistance to Sephora employees facing financial hardship caused by natural disaster, family emergency, and other unexpected events.