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Sephora Wants to Help You Start a Beauty Business

Rieva Lesonsky

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love Sephora any more than I already do, the global cosmetics and skincare retailer has launched a new program to help startup businesses led by women get off the ground.

The Sephora Accelerate program is “dedicated to building a community of innovative female founders in beauty,” Sephora says. Sephora Accelerate starts with a weeklong boot camp where participants learn the necessary skills to create a successful business. During the boot camp, they will get help in creating a business model, market analysis, growth plan and funding strategy in preparation for a final “demo day” in San Francisco, when they’ll pitch their business ideas to Sephora’s merchandising and innovation teams in hopes of getting their products into the stores or on the website.

The entrepreneurs will also receive support from industry-leading design experts, and one-on-one mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs, startup experts and beauty industry leaders.

What sparked this program? “Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented,” says Sephora’s website. “We saw a unique opportunity to draw from our history of working with beauty entrepreneurs to build a supportive community for women who are in the early stages of developing their businesses.”

Sephora Accelerate, part of the company’s larger Sephora Stands social impact programs, aims to help more than 50 women-led beauty businesses with social impact launch by 2020. The company defines “social impact” as environmentally friendly actions, using sustainable materials, giving back to charitable organizations or any other action that has a positive impact on the community at large.

Sephora is looking for early-stage beauty businesses, which can include makeup, skin care, hair care, fragrance, beauty accessories and technology or service businesses—as long as they offer “fresh ideas and innovative approaches to beauty.”

In addition to all-expense paid trips for the program events, chosen entrepreneurs (dubbed “fellows”) will receive a $2,500 grant from Sephora; they may also be eligible for additional loans. While they’re not guaranteed product placement in Sephora stores, Sephora plans to provide exposure for them through social media and traditional media.

Sephora just announced its first cohort of startup entrepreneurs, who will be attending boot camp in April and doing Demo Day at the end of August. Want to find out more about the program and when the next Accelerate cohort will be chosen? Get program details and contact Sephora here.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.