You’re recognized as a leader for founding Clean Beauty Summer School. Can you tell us how this initiative came to be and how you hope it will continue?
“This initiative kind of came to me, in a sense. After Glossier announced its grant program, one of our followers messaged me asking if Tower 28 had any plans to give out funding for Black-owned entrepreneurial businesses. Little did this person know, that same day I was actually applying for a bank loan. While we aren’t in a position financially to support the growth of Black-owned beauty brands, this made me pause and think about what I could realistically do to help move the beauty industry in a more inclusive direction. I offered to set up a Zoom call to share some advice, and this is when it clicked.
“I came to realize that so much of Tower 28’s success, and that of many other brands in the industry, has come from access to education, network, mentorship and opportunity—advantages that are not readily available to everyone. I set out to build a program that would make a meaningful impact for small Black-owned clean beauty brands, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I set out to build a program that would make a meaningful impact for small Black-owned clean beauty brands, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
- Amy Liu
“I reached out to a few friends in the beauty industry to test the waters and was overwhelmed by their responses. Everyone was so eager to donate their time as mentors and judges. The group ended up comprising beauty industry veterans-turned-entrepreneurs who were still in the early stages of building their companies from the ground up, along with advisors and experts who are critical to a brand’s success. We also received a generous grant from the New Voices Foundation for the winner of Clean Beauty Summer School, along with services from Headkount to further support their growth. The hosts of the Glowing Up podcast also offered to feature the winner on an episode!
“Together, we built the program around those four pillars: education, network, mentorship and opportunity, and opened up applications. Over 300 brands entered, and after narrowing it down to ten finalists, we kicked off a summer of weekly classes and meetings with mentors. The Summer School culminated with a pitch day, with the brands presenting to a panel of judges that included buyers from Ulta and Sephora, who named the ultimate winner, Kimberly Dillon of Frigg
“It was incredibly inspiring to witness a community being built among the participants and mentors, and I think Kimberly put it well when she said one of her key takeaways from the program is that ‘access matters.’ We’re energized and excited to continue Clean Beauty Summer School as a yearly program, and I can’t wait to meet the class of 2021!”
What’s something you’d like people to know about you or your work that they probably don’t?
“I think from the outside it’s hard to tell that Tower 28 is just a family of four full-time! We’re a small but mighty team, and with that comes growing pains and learning curves. I’m so proud of what our team has built in such a short time, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
This has been a trying year, to put it plainly. How have you been finding or seeking joy?
“I have three children, and this year we have spent more time together than I can ever remember. We’ve been living a bit slower, with family dinners and quality time that we never used to have time for—or at least that’s what it felt like. Now that I’m working from home, I have time in the morning to take a walk with my family around the neighborhood, and I’m trying to count my blessings.”
What advice do you have for others advocating for change in 2020?
“Be true to what you can offer others. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you can’t help in a certain way, but take a step back and ask, ‘What tools do I have to help?’ Hopefully together we can see some positive change come out of 2020.”