This is important because Black women have a harder time finding safe, green cosmetics.
It can be difficult for women of color to find non-toxic beauty products in the United States. Most of the ‘safe’ cosmetics available on the market today are aimed at white women, and yet Black American women are the biggest buyers of cosmetics, driving 22 percent of the $42-billion-a-year industry in the United States. This means they have a disproportionately high rate of exposure to toxic chemicals.
One new company called Mented (short for ‘pigmented’) wants to change this. Created by two young women, Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller, who met at Harvard Business School, Mented offers a line of nude lipsticks that are non-toxic, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan. They’re also made in the U.S.A.
What sets Mented apart is the tremendous success it has had with getting funding. Johnson and Miller have been named by Forbes as the 15th and 16th Black women ever to raise $1 million in venture capital to grow their business. While it is certainly an achievement worth celebrating, it’s also indicative of the disturbing disparities of opportunity that exist among genders and ethnicities within the U.S.
“As data from investor Kathryn Finney’s Project Diane shows, although black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., they receive only 0.2% of VC funding. The average startup founded by a black woman raises only $36,000 in venture funding, versus the $1.3 million the average failed startup led by a white man raises before going kaput.”
Mented is getting lots of attention on social media, and customers are spreading the word far afield about how great the products are. Founders Miller and Johnson say they hope to expand their line beyond lipsticks to include eye palettes soon, which is good news for all women seeking cleaner cosmetics.