Now in its third year, beauty retailer Credo Beauty’s Credo for Change workshop program for BIPOC founders is upping its participation numbers.
For its third session, beginning on August 12, the retailer opened its program to all eligible applicants rather than selecting a group of 13-14 participants as in previous years. Running through November 11, the program will include weekly classes on topics related to launching and building a brand.
“It was just too hard to choose because there’s a lot of really interesting people out there,” said Annie Jackson, co-founder and COO at Credo Beauty. “This year, we just said, ‘What would happen if we just invite everyone that applies?’ That’s what we’re about. We are proud of who we are as an organization [and that we are] welcoming to everyone.” So far, over 160 founders have applied to be in the program, up from 75 last year.
To be eligible, brand founders must be based in the U.S. or Canada, at least 18 years old and identify as BIPOC. Their brand must be at an “early stage” in its lifecycle (no specific brand age requirements), have limited distribution, and have a committed focus to clean ingredients and sustainability.
Participants will take part in a 12-week curriculum of virtual sessions hosted by Credo executives, beauty founders and executives from brands such as Tower28 and Kopari Beauty, and other business experts including lawyers, consultants and investors. Topics will include product formulation, legal matters and trademarks, capital management, brand storytelling, marketing, and overall business strategy.
“The whole curriculum is very deeply entrenched in being successful at retail,” said Jackson.
The program was launched in 2020 along with a wave of similar initiatives by brands and retailers to improve support for diverse founders. It also coincided with the launch of the 15 Percent Pledge for retailers to stock 15% Black-owned brands. Credo Beauty said its current goal is to ensure its brand count of BIPOC-owned and -founded brands is at least 25-30%; currently, those brands make up 29% of the retailer’s lineup.
Jackson said that the 2020 movement for more diversity in beauty retail was a wake-up call for her. “My initial reaction [to the movement] was, ‘OK, Credo’s not a problem. We’re welcoming to everyone.’ But the reality was that, when I looked through the brand submissions that we were getting [from brands looking to launch wholesale partnerships with Credo], the submissions were primarily from white founders.”
The Credo for Change program has helped the retailer add more brands by BIPOC founders. Previous participants Common Heir, Nopalera and 54 Thrones are now stocked at Credo Beauty and other major retailers.
“The things I learned in Credo for Change all came into play for our Credo launch. The Credo team has been a delight to work with, hands-on and easy to access, which really helped our launch,” said Christina Funke Tegbe, founder of 54 Thrones, which joined the Credo lineup in May this year. Also a participant in Sephora’s Accelerate program, the brand added Credo to its list of retail partners following Sephora, Nordstrom, Goop and Sweet July.
“Going through the programming and coaching sessions enabled us to really get to know Credo’s values and the team,” said Cary Lin, co-founder of Common Heir. The brand launched at Credo Beauty in May 2021, followed by Anthropologie at the beginning of this year. “We hadn’t considered retail at all in the beginning, in part because we weren’t sure how folks would respond to our brand,” she said.
“It’s obviously a great opportunity to get in front of our merchant team over the course of a pretty significant amount of time,” said Jackson of the program.
In addition to exposure to the Credo merchant team, networking is another benefit for brand founders. Both Tegbe and Lin cited the community of Credo founders as one of the biggest pluses of participating.
“The other benefit was getting to build relationships with a tribe of mentors and resources that we’ve been able to lean on through tough times, who have seen us grow and become some of our biggest advocates throughout this journey,” said Lin.