Briogeo’s Nancy Twine Launches $1 Million Grant for Female Founders

Briogeo founder Nancy Twine is giving back.

The entrepreneur, who built the cult clean hair brand that was snapped up by Wella in 2022, is launching the $1 million Dream Makers Founder Grant, designed to empower and support female entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on Black and diverse founders in the consumer goods industry. 

“In 2014 I was the youngest Black American to have launched with Sephora in any category so it was this historic moment. My experience is such a testament that when you have a founder that is passionate — even though they maybe don’t have the same sort of access or background or expertise — just that simple task of believing in them and investing in them can open so much opportunity,” she told WWD.

“As we embark on that 10-year milestone, I’ve thought about ways I can give back beyond mentorship to actually helping to support these founders with financial capital in a way in which they’re not giving up equity, they don’t have to report to investors,” she continued. “They can literally take this capital, take some risks, invest in their business and not have to worry about any strings attached.”

Spanning four years, $250,000 will be distributed annually to selected grant recipients and in its inaugural year, the Dream Makers Founder Grant will collaborate with Sephora’s 2024 Accelerate incubator program and the Fifteen Percent Pledge. 

Half of the funds will be split between Sephora Accelerate’s 2024 cohort: Roz Samimi, founder of acne-focused skin care brand Banuskin; Hannah Diop, who founded Issa Rae-backed textured hair care brand Sienna Naturals; Yasmin Zeinab, who introduced her French-inspired body care brand Abi Amé in 2021; influencer Diipa Buller-Khosla, founder of Ayurvedic Indē Wild; Katini Yamaoka, founder of facial oil brand Katini Skin; Harlem Perfume Co. founder Teri Johnson; Denise Vai, founder of soon-to-launch lip care brand Maed Beauty, and Quani Burnett, who introduced textured hair care brand Soft Rows.

The incubator program, which is in its ninth year and has focused on founders of color since 2020 as part of Sephora‘s Fifteen Percent Pledge commitment, features a six-month curriculum offering mentorship, merchandising support and relationship-building opportunities for participants, who will potentially launch their brands at Sephora. The program includes financial readiness, assortment strategy and social media marketing sessions led by founders such as Twine, Tower 28’s Amy Liu and Tatcha’s Vicky Tsai.

“By collaborating with Nancy Twine and this initiative to further support Sephora Accelerate founders, we aim to empower the next generation of beauty leaders and contribute to a more equitable and vibrant industry,” said Priya Venkatesh, global chief merchandising officer at Sephora.

The other half will be split between around five founders selected by the Fifteen Percent Pledge, founded by designer Aurora James in 2020, and the Dream Makers Founder Grant. Those founders will be outside of the beauty industry.

“The beauty industry is amazing. It’s where I got my start but I know there are other industries like fashion, beverage, home goods, accessories that struggle with the same thing: access to mentorship and  access to capital and not everyone is ready to take on an investor and that’s where grant funds are really helpful,” said Twine.

James added: “As a Black-business owner myself, I know first hand the barriers that entrepreneurs face when trying to find necessary capital to grow their businesses, and how much of an impact the Dream Makers Founders Grant will make.”

Twine told WWD she’s looking for early stage founders that are trying to make real changes in the spaces in which they’re operating, and even better if they want to make changes in their local communities.

“We really want to focus on founders that are creating products or services that are really meant to support diverse people,” she said.

A formal application process will be launched for that portion of the grant.

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