Pound Cake Wins Pharrell Williams’ $1 Million Black Ambition Grant

Pound Cake Wins Pharrell Williams’ $1 Million. Pound Cake launched its Cake Batter collection in 2021. The collection comprises six shades of red, offering the same red hue to various skin tones.

One year after its introduction, Pound Cake is taking the world by storm. Also, it appears that everything is going according to plan.

Although the brand has officially introduced its line of lipsticks that offer the same red hue for different skin tones, as opposed to using a single “universal” shade in 2021, Pound Cake has been on an unending hamster wheel of victory since.

To summarize, the brand’s first line, named Cake Batter, was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the most innovative inventions of 2022. Pound Cake launched online and across all 10 Credo locations; completed Ulta Beauty’s first MUSE Accelerator Program and took home the grand prize of $1 million in Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition pitch contest.

The company was established by its chief director Camille Bell and chief branding officer Johnny Velazquez; Pound Cake is an exception that aims to show what should have been the norm in the beauty industry. Take a look at L’Oréal Announces Partnerships if you’re interested in learning more or in new ways of thinking.

“We must create various shades that are the exact color that is suitable for specific lip and skin tones so that when it is applied to the specific skin tones, everyone will get that same shade,” said Bell, who first realized the necessity for a brand such as Pound Cake in her college period in the decade of 2010 when she noticed that certain lipstick shades were different, or did not show up in any way on her.

“I began doing a study on the market by asking my friends who have a skin tone similar to mine and darker “Is this something you’re experiencing? Do you have a problem you are facing?’ they replied, “Yes, every day, All the time,'” Bell said.

Self-described as a “beauty outsider” and a self-made, uncompromising DIYer, Bell began her journey of bringing about genuine inclusivity via Pound Cake shortly after that.

“I haven’t worked in the field for many years and decided to make an online brand. I started Pound Cake because I was having a difficult time and determined to find a solution,” Bell said.

Although the brand’s most recent orchestra of hard-earned awards tells the story of victory, the mission of Pound Cake was only sometimes met with the same enthusiasm or even with the same understanding.

“We’ve been through a lot of ‘No’s during this whole course of action,” Bell said. “The first big no we received was Glossier’s Grant Initiative; however, in the majority of pitch contests we participated in, the judges were mainly white men who said that the problem we set out to solve was not an issue, even when we had evidence from market research there was.”

A 2017 Indiegogo campaign run by the brand raised the sum of $20,000, which, paired with Glossier’s prelaunch grant of $10,000 for 2020, was more than enough to help the brand get back on its feet.

Yet, scaling requires additional funds that entrepreneurs of color have a lower chance of receiving than their white counterparts. The entrepreneur and musician Pharrell Williams set out to eliminate this gap through his creation of Black Ambition which is a non-profit foundation that provides financial assistance as well as mentorship in the field of Black and Latine companies in the consumer products and services, media technology, entertainment, and health care sectors, by 2020.

“Black Ambition can be a tool to make a significant impact,” Williams wrote exclusively in an email to Beauty Inc. “We want to keep laying the foundation for even more amazing Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to have access to the resources which will allow them to grow their business or idea to the next stage.”

Bell was accepted into Black Ambition in February and was informed in August that she had received an email telling her that Pound Cake had been selected as a semi-finalist in the pitch competition this year. After that, Bell was paired with Rob Robillard, a chief merchandising officer at HSN, and served as a mentor for her and six other footwear and beauty entrepreneurs who were scheduled to meet biweekly over the next 12 weeks.

“It’s tough to start an enterprise in the beauty industry,” said Robillard, previously the director of marketing, senior vice president of L’Oreal Paris, and chief executive officer of Living Proof. “Camille’s idea is about changing how we deliver colors to everyone. It’s not a niche idea or anything, and it’s a huge concept.”

The Black Ambition 2022 group dwindled from 250 semi-finalists in August to just eight finalists, each of whom gave an eight-minute pitch before the panel composed of judges on November 1 in Virginia and took different home amounts of cash prizes and with Bell winning the top prize of $1 million.

“When you consider the support Black or Latinx founders require, the capital component is crucial,” said Felicia Hatcher, the CEO of Black Ambition. “Some organizations make founders the focus of attention and underfunded – actually both must be done equally at the top level.”

The assistance provided by Robillard, as well as other Black Ambition mentors, includes access to high-level networks which students can use to advance their careers.

“Relationships, especially in the realm of beauty, can be significant, and sometimes, they could be the key to having a retailer contact you,” Robillard said.

“Patience and grit are essential and the two most important lessons I learned about myself through my Black Ambition process,” Bell said. Bell was awarded $50,000 for completing Ulta’s MUSE Accelerator Program and intends to use this money to increase the size of his Pound Cake team and present new products in 2023. “We’re launching three new products in the coming year. If you want to enhance your beauty, Topicals Closes $10M Series was made just for you. Two are in the lip category, and the third is a face product. They’re following the same formula in the same way as Cake Batter,” Bell explained. “We’re looking at color the same way as the industry is approaching foundation to believe that if we’re planning to emphasize and incorporate marginalized people within our brand, it’s crucial that we also discuss the issues affecting marginalized communities that are marginalized.”

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