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BrainTrust Founder Studio unveils $25M fund for Black beauty and wellness founders

The BrainTrust Fund will support more than 120 Black entrepreneurs who have sold more than $100 million in products at nearly 23,000 retail doors

BrainTrust Founder Studio unveils $25M fund for Black beauty and wellness founders
Investors behind the BrainTrust Founders Studio have announced a $25-million venture fund to support Black entrepreneurs in the beauty and wellness industry. UNSPLASH PHOTO

BrainTrust Founders Studio, an investment platform for Black founders of beauty and wellness companies, has announced a $25 million venture fund.

The BrainTrust Fund will support more than 120 Black entrepreneurs as part of its member base. The business owners have sold over $100 million in products at nearly 23,000 retail doors, a statement reads.

“We designed the BrainTrust Fund as a ‘blue ocean’ investment opportunity to capitalize on innovation by Black entrepreneurs in beauty and wellness, whom we expect to continue to outperform as leaders of culture and creativity,” general partners Kendra Bracken-Ferguson and Lisa Stone said in a statement.

Supporting over 20 sub-sectors in the beauty and wellness industry, the $25-million fund will provide capital and a platform to bolster entrepreneurs in the fragrance, AI and technology categories.

Member companies must earn at least $1 million annually, according to a statement.

The BrainTrust Fund also announced a $1 million equity investment into Listener Brands, Inc., the parent company of hair care brands, CurlMix and 4C ONLY, which were CEO Kim Lewis.

Lewis is credited for building one of the top five Black-founded hair companies in the U.S. She also made an appearance on Season 10 of ABC’s Shark Tank.

“The BrainTrust Fund team’s knowledge of retail, marketing and CPG already made them valuable investors,” Lewis said in a statement. “As we continue to grow and expand the family of Listener Brands, I’m excited to tap into the expertise of the BrainTrust Fund community.

“America’s beauty and wellness buyer is younger, more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before, and shopping for brands that serve their needs and their inclusive, sustainable values at a scale that speaks to a permanent shift, not a fad,” she added.

Bracken-Ferguson and Stone cited reports that suggest fewer than one per cent of venture capital investors are Black women, and fewer than one per cent of Black women founders are funded by the venture capital community.

“The BrainTrust Fund exists so that as the massive, multi-trillion-dollar beauty and wellness marketplace grows, Black founders, supported by Black funders and allies, may participate in creating and selling what shoppers want,” Bracken-Ferguson and Stone said.

BrainTrust Fund investor Karla Martin echoed these sentiments. The managing director and global luxury, retail and e-commerce lead for Deloitte said more and more consumers are looking to support vegan, clean, and racially and ethnically inclusive brands.

“My clients are buying what they cannot build fast enough for today’s consumer,” Martin said. “The notion of beauty has expanded more in the last 10 years than in the previous 40, including size, age, race, ethnicity and gender. And those new segments of consumers, and in particular younger consumers, want to feel more connected to the brands they use and want brands with a clear purpose. I have two daughters, our kids read labels and they read the news. It’s not going to stop.”