Sephora is investing in new female-led beauty startups

Updated story: Sephora is now extending its female start-ups programme called Accelerate (check it out here) for 2017 to support more businesswomen who want to make their beauty mark. After the huge success of its first year back in 2016, Sephora will roll out its programme to help women, providing everything from financial support to mentoring (over 300 hours of mentoring took place in 2016).

The new extended programme will cover two new business categories, that include sustainability and technology- two huge topics that are set to determine the future of retail. In addition to this, the beauty retailer will be offering nationwide beauty experiences, with two schemes called Classes for Confidence and Brave Beauty in the Face of Cancer, designed to support those living with cancer.

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Think of it as the modern day Avon lady. Sephora is helping young female entrepreneurs to make it big in the beauty game. Through their new programme called Sephora Accelerate, the US beauty giant has launched a beauty bootcamp to train, mentor and support young, new talent to get their startup off the ground.

Talking about the new initiative, Calvin McDonald, President and CEO of Sephora Americas said: “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.” He added that this a great, new way to “better leverage the depth of our expertise and the incredible passion of our employees for a more focused result.”

There are 10 coveted spots on the training programme, which is focused specifically on women to try and redress the current imbalance, which sees female entrepreneurs unable to access as much funding as their male counterparts. In the US, 85% of venture capital funded start-ups are led exclusively by men. The end goal for the Sephora Accelerate programme is to support more than 50 women-led beauty businesses through boot camps, mentorship, and small loans by 2020.

Sephora is also well-known for its digital-first outlook, and recently transformed its San Fransisco store adding in digital beauty stations that encourage consumers to film their own beauty videos and watch beauty tutorial videos via the iPads at each station. Participants on the Accelerate programme will be headed to the San Fransisco headquarters for the full training.

The announcement of this Accelerate programme by Sephora comes at an interesting time. At WGSN we forecasted that more and more consumers (particularly millennial creatives) are choosing to see the growing freelance economy and ‘gig culture’ as an opportunity rather than a limitation, using it to parlay their hobbies into paying careers, increasing their skills and knowledge base to create the career they want on their terms.

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