Beauty Independent Presents The 2022 Beacon Awards Winners At A Virtual Ceremony

Olaplex CEO JuE Wong, Urban Decay and Caliray co-founder Wende Zomnir, Vegamour founder and CEO Daniel Hodgdon, and body care brand Kate McLeod took home top honors during the third annual Beauty Independent Beacon Awards ceremony held virtually on Wednesday.

There were a total of 24 winners revealed, and other winners include online retailer NakedPoppy, sustainable haircare and scalp care brand Conscia, and pharmacist-developed skincare brand Plantkos, which was feted for Best Launch. Zomnir won the Industry Icon prize. Hodgdon nabbed the Entrepreneur of the Year award, and Kate McLeod won Best Brand. The 2022 Beacon Awards were sponsored by Intrepid Investment Bankers.

The winners were selected from a pool of 115 nominees chosen by Beauty Independent’s editorial staff in July before being evaluated by 25 beauty industry experts assembled into expert committees to select the award recipients. A few of the evaluators were Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price, Ulta Beauty director of emerging brands Muffy Clince, L’Oréal group president of acquisitions Carol Hamilton and Hero Cosmetics co-founder Ju Rhyu. Testimonials from Beauty Independent subscribers were considered in the evaluation process.

Sun care brand Unsun won the Inclusivity Champion award. Jennifer Goldstein, expert evaluator and co-host of podcast Fat Mascara, explained her Beacon Awards evaluator committee sought to honor a company making beauty accessible for everyone. “Not only are they making sunscreen more inclusive, their elegant formulas are pushing other companies to step up and become more inclusive with their own offerings,” she said. “They also value diversity at all levels of their organization, and their marketing and visuals include people of all shapes, races and sexual and gender identities, making them a true example of inclusivity in 2022.” 

Reacting to her brand’s triumph, Unsun founder Katonya B. Breaux said, “I’m actually surprised, but incredibly pleased. It was so important for me to do this because I have been addicted to sunscreen for the last 15 years, and I just wanted something clean. I have to thank my formulator, too, because when we launched there was nothing like this and it was not easy to do.” 

Product Launch Cosmetics was a hotly contested category that generated fierce debate among evaluators. The runner-up was About Face’s Matte Fluid Eye Paint, but the prize went to Forget The Filler Lip Plumping Gloss by Lawless Beauty. Intrepid managing director and founding principal Steve Davis lauded Forget The Filler Lip Plumping Gloss for “providing a clinically proven way to increase the volume of your lips without the sting and irritation of other products on the market. Forget the Filler Lip Plumping Gloss has been featured across countless publications, won multiple awards and is now a hero product for Lawless Beauty.”

In a year packed with investment activity, another hotly contested category was Indie Deal of the Year. Incontinence specialist Hazel’s $2.5 million series A round walked away a winner. H Ventures, BAM Ventures, Springdale Ventures and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator participated in the round. Speaking of Hazel, Nini Zhang, managing director of investment banking at Bank of America, said, “You’ve leveraged patented technology to offer a solution to empower women to take control of their lives and take the shame and stigma out of the condition…and look great doing it.” Scotch Porter was runner-up.

“When we started Hazel we quickly realized one in three women experience leaks, yet she had been ignored for long,” said Hazel co-founder Aubrey Hubbell. “We’re so proud to be recognized for the years of work our team has put into changing the narrative and providing the elevated experience our consumer deserves.”

Waldencast Ventures secured the top spot in the Seed and Small Growth Investor category. Its portfolio contains the companies Whind, Glaze, Kjaer Weis, Revea, Sallve, Manual and C16 Biosciences. For the Large Growth Investor category, Alliance Consumer Growth was awarded a Beacon for its partnerships with companies such as Ouai, Milk Makeup, Pacifica and SuperOrdinary. 

Evaluator Michael Garcia, managing director of the beauty and personal care practice at Intrepid, highlighted Alliance Consumer Growth’s ability to act as an investor and advocate for its portfolio companies. He said, “It’s the combination of industry know-how, understanding of how to build businesses, grow teams, expand channels and ultimately position for a strategic exit.”

Founder Kate McLeod fought back tears as she accepted congratulations for her eponymous brand’s Best Brand win. “I’m really speechless,” she exclaimed. “This literally started at my kitchen table and it’s so meaningful to me.” In her acceptance speech for Industry Icon, Zomnir said, “We have all really collectively changed the beauty space. We’ve made it more sophisticated and at the same time more democratized, which I think is really cool.”

There was no shortage of stellar candidates for Entrepreneur of the Year, but one brand founder stood out to the evaluator committee: Daniel Hodgdon of haircare brand Vegamour. Discussing Vegamour, Hamilton said, “As a committee, we were all moved by testimonies from farmers in Africa—the vast majority of whom are women—who have experienced meaningful improvements to their and the family’s lives from this brand’s fair-trade practices.” Hodgdon said, “I am honored to accept this award, but I feel like it really belongs to the individuals that I have the privilege of working with everyday. Without their fortitude and talent none of this would have been possible.” 

In 2023, the Beacon Awards 2023 program will expand the number of categories, and Fragrance Product Launch and Personal Care Product Launch will be new product categories. This year, they were combined into a single category. Retail categories will be redefined as Brand Booster, Audience Educator, Assortment Innovator and Spa Service Provider.

The full list of Beacon Awards 2022 winners can be viewed here. Beauty Independent has already begun accepting suggestions for Beacon Awards 2023 nominees.