Meet the Top 5 Finalists

Sponsored by AVEENO®

This article is brought to you by the AVEENO® Skin Health Start Up
Accelerator. Filled with helpful resources, this entrepreneurial hub is part
of AVEENO’s commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry
to impact the health and beauty of all skin.

In support of Black female entrepreneurs, ESSENCE and AVEENO® have
brought back the AVEENO® SKIN HEALTH STARTUP ACCELERATOR for a second year. This pitch competition empowers business owners to pitch their body care, facial care or scalp care business that harnesses the power of science and nature to address the skincare or scalp care needs of all consumers. One winner will receive a trip to #ESSENCEFEST, plus $100,000 from AVEENO® and ongoing mentorship opportunities from AVEENO® business leaders, industry experts and ESSENCE.

The distinguished panel of judges this year includes Pauline Malcolm-
Thornton, Chief Revenue Officer, ESSENCE Communications Inc.;
Katherine (KC) Hagin, Commercial Leader, AVEENO® and Lubriderm®; James Ely, Managing Director/Vice President, Zarbee’s®; and Melissa Dandy, R&D New Product Development Lead for AVEENO® & Lubriderm®.

These judges evaluated each brand’s pitch on their originality, innovation,
and thoughtfulness—and whether or not their product was different from
what is already in the marketplace. They looked at how they would advance the skin health of Black consumers and how they were aligned with Aveeno’s values—leveraging the power of nature and science. The judges also took time to evaluate the brand’s strategy and business plan.

Now, get ready to meet the five finalists in the 2022 AVEENO® SKIN

Founder & Chief Cosmetic Chemist: Eunice Cofie-Obeng
Location: Hampton, VA

Combining traditional African medicine and modern science, Neukie
features products to treat common skin disorders in skin of color such as
acne and hyperpigmentation. Founder, Eunice Cofie-Obeng is looking to
empower the consumer to understand the skin they are in through
education. “We have developed the Nuekie Clear + Resilient Skin Care
System and Nuekie Luminous + Resilient Skin Care System that effectively
treats acne and hyperpigmentation in skin of color,” she says. “Our
proprietary formula uses African medicinal plants to give the consumer
clear and even skin.”

Through this competition, she has learned the importance of having a brand strategy and clear brand communication. And if she wins, the grant funding and mentorship would help market products and increase production. Her plans for Nuekie are to launch the acne and hyperpigmentation skincare systems and host the Nuekie Skin of Color Conference for Black estheticians in November 2022.

Skincare Essentials By Jill
Founder: Jamilah Miller (Jill)
Location: Cheektowaga, NY

After her daughter was born with infant eczema, Jaimilah Miller (Jill) was
inspired to create Skincare Essentials By Jill, specializing in dark spots,
hyperpigmentation, eczema, dry skin and much more. She says, “We take
pride in using organic ingredients to promote excellent skin health.” She is
the first Black woman to have an all-natural product-based skincare vending machine in Buffalo, NY currently inside the Walden Galleria Mall. “Our company also provides private label wholesale—that’s right we make the products, and you brand them,” she says. This allows other individuals to start or add to an existing business establishing their own income. 

As a nurse of 17 years, Jill is very passionate and takes pride in serving
others. Her products are designed to treat children, teenagers, adults and
the elderly. They also provide different customizations of products and
ingredients. “For example, if one has an allergy to almond oil, we provide
many other options to replace that. We also provide products that are
fragrance free,” she says. “Quality skincare products should be accessible
to everyone regardless of what they may suffer with.”


Co-Founders: Dr. Naana Boakye, Abena Slowe and Akua Okunseinde
Location: Englewood, NJ

Tik Tok:

A family business and largely operated by the three founders, Karité is a
custom formulated skin care brand using raw, unrefined shea butter from
Ghana and leveraging other plant-based ingredients to improve the health
of the skin. Their packaging is recyclable and earth friendly—they don’t use
outer cartons or make small sample sizes in an effort to minimize product
waste. The focus is on the shea trees that grow in the wild in Northern
Ghana where they are from and shea butter has a myriad of therapeutic
benefits for the skin. It’s full of antioxidants, can prevent aging, reduces
inflammation, has antimicrobial properties, and of course is incredibly
hydrating and moisturizing.

The main goal of these three co-founders is to support the incredible, hard-
working women shea farmers who live in Northern Ghana. By working in
the shea industry, these women are empowered to be more than just
homemakers if they choose. This opportunity can actually help them be
bread-winners and provide for their families, become inspirations for their
children and support their communities at large. Their main initiative is
Shea for Soles (#sheaforsoles), which provides shoes for the women who
work at the cooperatives that harvest shea nuts and extract the incredible
shea butter their products rely on. Many of these women commute to work
by foot—and spend their entire day on their feet—which is why they believe
that providing them with proper footwear is so important. They have
collected more than 75 pairs of gently worn sneakers, which were delivered
to these amazing women in Ghana in December 2021. They look forward to
continuing their philanthropic efforts only made possible by the growth of Karité.

Bea’s Bayou Skincare
Founder: Arielle Brown
Location: New Orleans, LA

90% of Black Americans have dandruff and 1 in 5 people have some form of
eczema, including Seborrheic dermatitis, like Arielle, which causes intense
itchy flare-ups. Arielle decided to inspire healing and build confidence with
her brand, Bea’s Bayou Skincare, an inclusive, microbiome-friendly scalp
care assortment. The product line includes the flagship, Good Biome Scalp
Solution, a prebiotic scalp oil, face serum, toning mist, setting mist, shampoo, and conditioner. The products are inclusive, have anti-inflammatory properties, and help protect the microbiome with probiotic
and herbal bioactives. 

When asked about this competition, Arielle says, “I’m nervous I just might
change my life!” She adds that Bea’s Bayou is at a critical stage—sink or
swim. “We must continue to grow to address customer needs—to evolve and expand,” she says. “Funding and mentorship will help provide that
opportunity to seize the moment of innovation in the microbiome-friendly
skincare space by funding more products, better sustainable packaging, and improved marketing campaigns.” She has learned that Bea’s Bayou is here to stay and she is a fearless leader! Arielle says, “I’m not giving up on her and she clearly is not giving up on me.”

AbsoluteJOI Skin Care
Founder: Dr. Anne Beal
Location: Washington, D.C.

As we mature and want to elevate our skin care routines, many of us find
products focused on “fine lines and wrinkles”, but that is not how we age.
Dr. Anne Beal knows that our early signs of aging are changes in skin tone
and dark marks. “We want to honor the wisdom, grace and unique beauty
that comes with maturity and want to take a healthy approach to skin care and we want to do it without a lot of fuss or multistep routines,” says Anne.
By combining the best actives science can offer, with nourishing ingredients from nature, her goal is to help people achieve healthy ageless beauty and a sense of security in caring for their skin. And that’s how AbsoluteJOI, the clean, minimalist skin care line for people over 35 with melanin-rich skin
was born.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with skin, or skin diseases, Anne is
focused on wellness, healthy skin and prevention and delivering effective
formulas. “I want to remind us that there is no one-size-fits-all when it
comes to skin care, and there is room for each of us to be unique and for
our skin care needs to be addressed in a way that works for us as
individuals,” she says.

Check back to see who will win the 2022 AVEENO® SKIN HEALTH
STARTUP ACCELERATOR Pitch Competition. If you didn’t get to take part, don’t worry, visit for tips and tricks from industry experts to take your body care, facial care or haircare product or brand to
the next level.

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