Big business typically ignores the little guy but major brands are now realising just how powerful investment in people can be.
Sephora, colossal beauty chain that extended its reach to Australia last year, announced the introduction of a three-tiered investment in people, named Sephora Stands. Conceived by former Google employee Corrie Conrad, the company’s head of social impact, the program is divided into three sectors: Sephora Stands Together – an initiative providing financial support to current employees who fall on hard times, Classes for Confidence – beauty workshops aimed at women who are re-entering the workforce and Sephora Accelerate – the ultimate investment in the future.
The Accelerate program will offer funding and education to 10 female founders of startup beauty companies, providing them with a grant, a place at a ‘beauty bootcamp’ where talks on business strategy and marketing will be given, as well as the opportunity to pitch their business ideas directly to Sephora executives.
It was born from the noticeable disconnect between the creators and consumers of beauty. The Sephora Accelerates press release points out that 85% of venture capital funded startups are led exclusively by men, despite the industry obviously being targeted primarily at women.
“Even in our industry, in beauty, where a majority of consumers are women, the female-founded beauty companies are still underrepresented,” Corrie notes. The Accelerate program then, aims to “build a community of innovative female founders in all areas of the beauty industry” by investing and nurturing future industry leaders.
Instead of fearing potential competition, Sephora is actively improving standards for the industry by creating a collaborative, competitive industry where only the best ideas flourish. Not to mention the fact that Sephora gains directly from the investment as well: the end goal of course is to have innovative beauty products land on the shelves of their stores.
Corrie confirms that US$2,500 grant they provide to chosen startups isn’t really the important investment – it’s the investment in the education of future industry leaders that actually counts.
“The network we provide, the feedback we provide, that’s a really valuable thing that I think is of interest to those that are applying,” Corrie explains.
While we all know two heads are better than one, Sephora knows that many are almost definitely better than two.