KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson are two friends who felt boxed into a corner in the beauty industry before taking matters into their own hands with Mented Cosmetics. They launched their own makeup line with the perfect organic nude lip products for women of color with just about $10,000 in savings. That led them to being the 15th and 16th black women to ever raise $1M in capital and expanding their products to lip glosses, an eyeshadow palette, nail polish and more. Today it was announced that Mented Cosmetics raised $3M in its latest round of funding.

CircleUp Growth Partners is the lead investor in the series seed and focuses on early-stage consumer brands with a “data-driven, scalable approach to investing in visionary founders.”

The first time around, KJ and Amanda pitched to more than 80 VCs. But this round, Miller says they pitched to about 30 VCs in total. And they found themselves in a position to say “no,” allowing them to be intentional about working with their investors.

The Harvard Business School graduates created their successful brand by clearly identifying a problem to solve. In an interview with 21Ninety last year, Johnson said, “KJ and I don’t have a cosmetics chemistry degree and we didn’t work in the business before starting Mented. I think identifying a clear need and being brazen enough to follow our dreams is what it takes. Just keep going and keep trying.”

Organic marketing channels make up 70 percent of first-quarter sales for Mented Cosmetics in 2018.  With the funding they just raised, the team will be able to expand and continue to improve the multicultural beauty market through their much-needed and versatile cruelty-free products.

Photo: Courtesy of Mented Cosmetics
Photo: Courtesy of Mented Cosmetics