Updated: Jan 7, 2022
One of the most exciting parts of our work here at Black Girl Ventures is recognizing Black and Brown women entrepreneurs slaying in their businesses. We love compiling our yearly list of the top 10 Black and Brown women-led companies to watch because historically, Black and Brown women-owned businesses have been grossly overlooked and underfunded.
However, several Black and Brown women are breaking the mold. And this year, in particular, we're excited to see these 10 minority women founders making moves, doing things differently, and disrupting the status quo. These creative and hardworking entrepreneurs are making significant moves, and we're expecting to see exponential growth in their businesses this year.
We also love how these ten minority women founders use their platforms to uplift others and advance social causes within their communities.
1. Ehime Eigbe, Founder of SweetKiwi
Ehime is building a healthy food empire that began with frozen yogurt. Did you know that SweetKiwi started in Nigeria? With the hopes of bringing better healthy options to her community, SweetKiwi became the first frozen yogurt of its kind in West Africa. Despite some twists and turns when launching in the U.S., SweetKiwi is now available in WholeFoods.
SweetKiwi received the highest honors by recently winning runner-up in the Real California Milk Exelerator and was granted $100k. With over 100 flavors and recipes and partnerships with Moët & Chandon, Pepsi, Guinness, Baileys, Veuve Cliquot, and Hennessy, to name a few.
Lastly, Sweetkiwi Creamery is on a mission to impact Africa's dairy agricultural value chain while tackling food insecurity & malnutrition through their Kinship Model. Our Kinship Model helps support our mission by sourcing high-quality ingredients only from known, trusted farmers, suppliers, and makers to ensure quality, sustainability & traceability. We're ecstatic to see what else is in store for Ehime and the SweetKiwi family in 2022!
2. Kayla Castañeda, Co-Founder of Agua Bonita
Kayla pitched in our very first pitch competition collaboration with NIKE. She and her co-founder Erin PonTell created Agua Bonita. It's a traditional Mexican drink created with healthier ingredients, made with real, rescued fruit & no added sugar. Their authentic recipes are served in beautiful, eco-friendly cans. The best part is that the drinks are ready to drink anytime.
Agua Bonita donates 1% of every purchase into mission-aligned non-profit partners such as Farmworker Justice and Justice for Migrant Women. Since winning the pitch competition, Agua Bonita became the first-ever Latina-run beverage startup to raise $1 million. They are rolling out new flavors like Mango Habenero! We can't wait to see what Kayla and her co-founder come up with in 2022.
3. Arion Long, Founder of Femly
Arion Long was diagnosed with a tumor in her reproductive system due to toxic feminine products with chemicals. When she couldn't find any toxin-free feminine hygiene products, it propelled her to create Femly. Femly is a feminine care subscription box that provides toxic-free feminine products, which are 100% certified organic biodegradable cotton. Their organic cotton pads absorb 3x more of the period flow than any other product. They're created with extra width to protect your clothing. But they don't only sell their products; they educate the community on feminine hygiene.
On their mission to end period poverty, Arion recently created and launched the first of its kind patented contactless feminine hygiene dispenser. Since Femly's launch, they've serviced 25,000 women, and now they hope to be in restrooms all over the country. You can nominate a restroom here. Arion was also named the Top 100 Woman In Business by Entrepreneur, seen in Forbes, and was funded by Beyonce's BeyGOOD grant. We can't wait to see more of Arion and Femly changing the world one woman at a time.
4. Tameka Norris, Founder of Capable Clothing
Temeka Norris is the founder of Capable Clothing. Tameka is a registered nurse who created adaptable clothing that is functional and fashionable. For the last ten years, she has worked with individuals with spinal cord injuries.
The constant lifting and turning of her patients took a toll on her body. She searched the market for garments that would assist her with lifting her patients, but there was none. Her signature item is the patented Capable Clothing Denim Jeans.
Tameka recently pitched at the Operation HOPE's One Million Black Business Initiative Hosts Inaugural Pitch Competition at the 8th Annual HOPE Global Forums in Atlanta. Although she didn't win the competition, several investors invested in Capable Clothing, and she walked out of that pitch competition with over $100K in funding. Since then, she's had several offers from major corporations and brands, and we're excited to see what comes together for Tameka in 2022!
5. Vernee Hines, Co-Founder of UpBrainery
Vernee Hines and Ghazal Qureshi founded UpBrainery in 2020, just before the pandemic. UpBrainery Technologies is a technology ecosystem that's aimed at disrupting educational and classroom norms through the use of its proprietary technology. UpBrainery's marketplace provides an AI-driven software platform and research-based, results-driven curriculum to students, parents, teachers, and organizations, but more importantly, students with minimal access to powerful technology with the hopes of giving more access to Black and Brown children.
Since their launch, Vernee was listed on the 2021 Forbes The Next 1000, and UpBrainery has helped more than 5,000 students. Collaborations have included Whataburger, Nasdaq, The Houston Rockets, The Girl Scouts of America, and Girls Inc. We look forward to seeing the growth in partnerships and students for UpBrainery in 2022!
6. Tai Ceme, Founder of Tai-Lite Beauty
Tai is the makeup artist to know. As an editorial makeup artist Tai has worked with some of the largest brands in the industry. Her work has been featured in Vogue magazine, Byrdie, Glamour, and House of Coco. Tai's founded Tai-Lite Beauty and focuses on developing products produced with skin-loving ingredients yet suitable for all skin types and tones.
She created Dream Lashes and Glow Pigments, a vibrant, lightweight multi-purpose glow pigment that can be used as a highlighter, blush, eye shadow, mixed in or underneath your foundation. Glow Pigments has only five toxic-free ingredients. Tai has recently partnered with J.C. Penny, where her products will be available. We can't wait to see what's more in store for this incredible artist in 2022!
7. Auzerais Bellamy, Founder of Blondery
Auzerais Bellamy was a pastry chef at Michelin-starred restaurants. She's worked at The French Laundry in California and Daniel and Per Se in New York and worked as the executive pastry chef at Brooklyn's Pies' n' Thighs and Ducasse's Benoit Bistro. In 2015 she was the pastry sous chef at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. Auzerais set off on her own to create Blondery. Blondery is a direct-to-consumer virtual bakery that specializes in a distinctive collection of handmade blondies.
Blondery reflects her passion for making the perfect blondie (10 years worth of perfection) and making her profession a better place for women and people of color. Baked to order in Brooklyn, these blondies are shipped nationwide, bringing fine dining experiences to homes and establishments. Auzerais has been featured in Forbes, and there's usually a waiting list for her blondies. In her BGV pitch, she's looking to purchase a commercial-grade cutter to speed up the process, which she says costs $50K! We praise the Gods that she receives it because those blondies look mouthwatering. We're excited to see what delicious treats Blondery creates in 2022!
8. Camille McGrit, Co-Founder of EXTA
Camille and her brother Emmanuel McGrit co-founded EXTA, which stands for Excelling Through Adversity. This is an online mental health platform providing mental health services to athletes. Athletes register, share their needs through an assessment process, are then paired with an EXTA Coach where they can schedule a one-on-one session. EXTA offers support on stress and anxiety while also working to enhance motivation and performance. They help athletes work through the mindset adjustment of sustained injuries. While also supporting other athletes who are transitioning out of sports and supporting them in overcoming self-doubt and confidence building.
As former Division I NCAA athletes, Camille and Emmanuel suffered injuries that changed their athletic careers. Both went through mental health challenges unique to athletes who have to readjust their lives and begin to live lives without their athletic careers. EXTA is on a mission to change the perception of sports and mental health.
Currently, EXTA has connections with North Carolina State University, Harvard Business School, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. BGV loves this idea, and we can't wait to see EXTA create a lane for itself in the mental health field.
9. She'Neil Spence, Co-Founder of Base Butter
She'Neil Spence and her co-founder Nicolette Graves founded Base Butter. She'Neil struggled for many years with her skin flare-ups. She purchased tons of products that promised to clear her skin but failed to do so. After surveying 3,000 individuals, she found that 89% struggled with skin conditions, and 86% could not find clean and effective formulas. She'Neil and Nicolette committed to creating a product that makes healthy skin the attainable standard for all.
She'Neil and Nicollette built Base Butter to make skincare easy for the consumer to tackle skincare with "easy to understand products, simple to follow routines and expert information that can be easily applied." Their hero product is the Radiate Face Jelly. Base Butter has been featured on ELLE, Allure, VOGUE, The New York Times, and Marie Claire, to name a few. Their vision is to see a world where all people feel protected, comfortable and confident in their skin. We're excited to see further growth for these two in 2022!
10. Nikisha Bailey, Co-Founder of Win Win Coffee Bar
Nikisha Bailey and her co-founder Matthew Nam are founders of Win Win Coffee Bar, Philadelphia's first Black woman-led coffee roaster and distributor, and co-roasting training facility. Their coffee is a specialty curated dark roast with a milk chocolate finish. Launched in 2019, it became a local favorite for creatives to gather. But in 2020, Win Win had to pivot their brick and mortar business due to the pandemic by launching their retail roast, the Win Win Blend. They have a 60% repeat customer base. The three C's important to Nikisha are Community, Creativity, and of course, Coffee.
Win Win is projected to hit the one million mark in 2022, will have created 400 jobs. Nikisha and Matthew hope to diversify the coffee industry with more Black women-owned coffee businesses with their training program. Win Win Coffee Bar recently won a $50,000 grant from Maison Courvoisier and the National Urban League to help grow and scale her business. Some notable partners have been Aramark, Women In Music, Power Corps Philly, and Mural Arts Philly, to name a few. They've been accepted into Aramak's, where they will learn how to wholesale supply sales work. Big things are in store for Win Win Coffee Bar, and we can't wait to hear more about it in 2022!
While our list is not exhaustive, there is no denying that Black and Brown women undoubtedly dominate the start-up scene. Knowing these names and seeing these faces gives you inspiration and the opportunity for you to do the same. We know this trend will continue to break down the barriers that often keep Black and Brown entrepreneurs from rising above their peers.