Months later, when George Floyd was killed in May 2020 and protests erupted across the country, she found investors were also galvanized.
“Suddenly people were responding to their emails,” Ms N’Diaye-Mbaye said. “People who said no to me in 2019 were answering me.”
She was ready for the calls. Ultimately, she raised $1.69 million in funding from angel investors. Most of the institutional capital came from Imaginary Ventures and Debut Capital, a fund that works specifically with Black, Latino and Indigenous founders.
Today, Ami Colé offers Breathable Skin Tint, Highlighter, meant to help achieve a dewy look, and Lip Oil. The products cost between $19 and $32.
“All I needed was access,” Ms N’Diaye-Mbaye said. “I’ve been asking for access for years now, which I’ve never been granted or people made you feel delusional or crazy that you had more to offer.”
It’s a frustration shared by Olamide Olowe, the founder of skincare company, Topicals. In 2015, while attending UCLA, Ms Olowe, 25, co-founded beauty brand SheaGIRL, in partnership with SheaMoisture. SheaGIRL was an experiment for the brand to teach Gen Z how to talk, Ms. Olowe said.
“After that I knew I didn’t want to go get a job,” Ms Olowe said.
Like Ms. N’Diaye-Mbaye, Ms. Olowe wanted to fill voids in the beauty industry by creating the products she wanted to buy. But when she started raising funds and pitching her product to retailers, influencers and investors, she was met with resistance.