Perhaps best known to the readers of Cosmetics Design as the Product Development Manager behind this year’s relaunch of the iconic hair brand Afro Sheen, Akuba Torvikey Dawkins specializes in not only product dev, but also beauty innovation, product testing, and consumer insights. She is also Co-Founder of Gravity Venture Partners, a firm that supports Black-owned startups, and as of Wednesday June 17, 2020, founder of the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator.
Building on a legacy of Black-owned beauty business success
Madam CJ Walker is the namesake behind the new virtual accelerator program. Walker’s maiden name was Sarah Breedlove; and as Torvikey explains in a social media post announcing the venture, “Madam CJ Walker….serves as an inspiration to me on many levels including entrepreneurship and product development.”
“What better way to pay homage to such a visionary and innovator than to create an initiative named after the woman who paved the way for Black haircare and provided not just jobs, but opportunities to over 25K black women?” asks Torvikey rhetorically.
Torvikey has spent the past 6+ months developing the accelerator programming but notes in her post that, “the time couldn't be more appropriate to help close the knowledge gap for Black-owned businesses.”
The Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator is now accepting applicants for a first cohort
Applications are being accepted online now at breedlove.gravityvp.com and must be in before Wednesday, June 24. The nine-week program is set to start on July 2 and run through August 27. And only 20 applicants will be invited to join the 2020 cohort.
As Torvikey explains in her LinkedIn update about the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator, “For 9 weeks, companies will receive mentoring from accomplished mentors in the areas brand building, product development, sales and marketing.”
And according to the accelerator site, the 13 mentors leading the sessions will “work with each company to develop a roadmap, provide tools, and develop the skills needed to prepare their brands and products for growth.” And then “align their businesses with the knowledge and resources to increase distribution and revenue.”
Convening a team of beauty, wellness, and business experts to maximize the potential of Black-owned companies
Throughout the nine-weeks, the inaugural cohort of the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness Accelerator will benefit from the wisdom and mentorship of the following experts:
- Cory Ackerman, CEO of LeRoi Products, longstanding home décor and gifts company
- Elsie Cardell, President of Results Sales & Marketing, a company that specializes in beauty and multicultural companies
- Octavia Connor, Founder of the financial management services company Say Yes to Profits
- Sheila Conner of the media and content consultancy Fluid Content
- Steve Conner of the media and content consultancy Fluid Content
- Justin Dawkins, ATL Digital Coach at Google
- Brit Fitzpartrick, Executive Director of Blue North, Tri-ED's entrepreneurship program
- Lavonya Jones, Program Manager at HBCU.vc, a non-profit training students at HBCUs and HSIs in venture capital and technology entrepreneurship
- Laconya Murry, Esquire, Brand Attorney at The Murray Law Group (now part of Fisher Phillips)
- Afua Osei, Entrepreneurship and Growth Coach at She Leads Africa, a community resource organization for African Women
- Anthony Standifer, CMO of the product development and contract manufacturer mSEED Group
(Find a growing list of Black-owned cosmetics and personal care ingredient and packaging suppliers, including Standifer, here.)
- Robyn-Melissa Watkins, Product Develop Consultant at Holistic Beauty Group
Deanna Utroske often writes news about women-owned beauty businesses and is glad for the opportunity to cover more underrepresented leadership on the B2B side of the cosmetics and personal care industry. Hers is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. And as the current Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.