I hope this blogpost meets you in great spirits. I'm feeling pretty chipper myself as I've just closed over $1 million in a friends and family round of capital to focus on further growing Bossy Cosmetics as we roll out to 300 JCPenney stores and expand our product footprint from predominantly lipsticks to eyeshadows, blushes, lip glosses, highlighters, eye pencils, foundation, and more. It feels pretty nice to find myself in the growing company of courageous women that are securing outside capital to build exceptional businesses. I'm particularly chuffed at this feat because it's a really tough achievement for Black women.
Last year, 2% of VC capital in the United States went to women-led businesses down from 2.7% in 2019 with a paltry 0.27% of that raised by Black female founders and 0.37% raised by Latina founders. According to ProjectDiane, as featured in a Fortune piece, in 2020 only 93 Black women had secured at least $1 million in outside capital to fund their businesses, up from 34 in 2018. These are low figures in a market that is flush with liquidity but this blogpost isn't about that. It's about what we are building over here on Team Bossy and the amazing women and men who have pitched their tents to support our bodacious objective to build a GLOBAL beauty brand that ignites confidence in ambitious women!
I come from a successful background in finance and most people couldn't make sense of my wanting to build a business in the fragmented beauty space but a few people did and I want to talk about them for a minute. I've been very open about unconscious bias from VCs who believed that I should focus on creating beauty products for Black women or, at least, "women of color broadly." With bias it's impossible to accurately pinpoint the root of the issue but I suspect that "smart money" believes that I should focus on people who look like me. But what does that even mean?
When I launched Bossy Cosmetics, I set about to create a brand that spoke to how women felt about themselves and the ways in which our beauty regimens feed into that emotional process. I observed that legacy companies were focused on how women looked and the products themselves but we wanted to put the customer front and center. We became obsessed with how ambitious women go about the business of igniting confidence in themselves and chose beauty to spark that feeling. Three years later, it's looking like women are loving our why, how, and what.
Bossy Cosmetics is a women's empowerment and mission-driven company that masquerades as a beauty brand.
As we sought funding to meet the various moments of growth along the journey (which were peppered with deep moments of doubt!) I chose to build a cap table (group of investors) that reflected my customers and their allies. Our customers defy age, race, ethnicity, and gender and now, so do our investors! Diversity is truly intentional and beautiful to us. We assembled a wonderful selection of incredibly thoughtful, steeped in experience, empathetic, wickedly intelligent, and passionate humans who took the calls, listened to the pitch, offered great contributions, and wired the cash!
I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother, my husband, James D. White, and Michael Braimah who were the first checks in the door! I don't believe I asked them for the money. They believed in ME immediately and showed up. James is a highly respected corporate board director and an accomplished CPG operator and when he told me that he knew I could build a billion dollar brand, I started to believe it myself.
I thank people like Merline Saintil whose introductions led to Tamla Oates-Forney, Tiana Carter, and Shalanda Armstrong investing alongside her. There is nothing like someone believing in you and spreading the good word to ensure that you close your round with corporate executives that personify the word bossy!
I thank my fellow amazing alum of the Harvard Business School, who have demonstrated that their support remains steadfast even 20 years after leaving campus! Shoutout to Lexi Reese, Christopher O.H. Williams and his wife Debbie Williams, Paula Campbell Roberts, Missy Narula, Anita Lynch, and Belén Aranda-Alvarado.
So many other friends and family like Nnenna Ilomechina, Gbenga Oyebode, Vidya Nagarajan, Ike Adeyemi, Bulbul Gupta, Adit Gadgil, Kabuki Snyder, Dr. Seun Sowemimo, and a number of angel investment syndicates that came together to participate in the round. It literally takes a village and I am encircled by an amazing one!
I've never thought that I should make noise about raising money as I consider it more important to focus on hitting your growth targets. However, I am doing both today in the hopes that it will inspire other women who are looking to raise capital for their businesses but keep getting told no.
Keep on going and eat that NO for breakfast! 💪🏾 💪🏾 💪🏾
A YES is right around the corner and be super intentional before you reply with YES too.
I hope this Women's History Month has been splendid for you and I look forward to creating more delightful products, content, and experiences for ambitious women of the world!
I've added the LinkedIn profiles of some of our investors because everything about them is why they are so necessary to be at a table with me while I build this diverse brand for women who are focused on making the world a better place for everyone! They lead boards, tech organizations, non-profits, product teams, legal functions, people teams, DEI, medicine and beyond. Our cap table is pure fire and I am proud to work with each of them! THANK YOU!!!