Plantkos, Nature Of Things And Chris Collins Selected For The Second Cohort of Beauty Independent’s Bridge Mentorship Sponsored by True Beauty Ventures

Three brands are about to receive big-time education on the fundraising process.

Plantkos, Nature of Things and Chris Collins have been selected for the second cohort of Bridge Mentorship, a program created by True Beauty Ventures, an early-stage beauty- and wellness-focused investment firm with Crown Affair, Aquis, K18, Maude, Kinship, Moon Juice and Cay Skin in its portfolio, in partnership with Beauty Independent. They were picked from over 100 applicants to participate in the program.

Cristina Nuñez, co-founder and general partner of TBV, says narrowing the applicant pool to just three brands was extremely challenging, especially as the program is reaching a broader swath of brands in the beauty and wellness space. Speaking of Nature of Things in particular, she shares its stunning aesthetic, leaders, and assortment bridging topical beauty products and ingestibles drew her to it. “We strongly believe that that intersection of beauty and wellness is really the future of the sector,” says Nuñez.

Jamie Leilani Pelayo, co-founder of traveling storytelling project Stories+Objects, launched Nature of Things in 2019 with JP Collett, who previously held a variety of positions at consumer goods companies, including Byrd Hairdo Products, Salt Optics and Skull Candy. Pelayo says Nature of Things applied to be a part of the Bridge Mentorship program to leverage TBV’s advisement in order to assist the brand with making the best near-term decisions to ensure the long-term success of its business.

The uniqueness of Plantkos’ story stood out to Nuñez. Launched last year, the brand was founded by pharmacists Sejal Patel and Ketul Patel as an authority on ingredients effective for melanated skin. Sejal Patel believes Bridge will help direct Plantkos as it proceeds through a growth phase by providing a focus on financial readiness, strategic partnerships and product pipeline.

Chris Collins was already on TBV’s radar thanks to the buzzy brand’s reputation within fragrance, a category that has outperformed expectations over the last two years. Chris Collins’ namesake founder is fortifying the brand, which has entered Sephora online, to build its retail and direct-to-consumer operations. “He is ready for guidance and thought partnership,” says Nuñez.

Spanning six months, Bridge Mentorship’s program features a structured curriculum and tailored action plans designed to drive meaningful personal and professional development to ready beauty and wellness entrepreneurs for securing institutional funding. In addition to TBV’s guidance, cohort brands have sessions arranged by the firm with industry experts, including lawyers and third-party logistics companies, to shore up essential aspects of their businesses. 

“Rich and Cristina are experts who really know the industry and understand the tough challenges beauty entrepreneurs face,” says Nader Naeymi-Rad, publisher of Beauty Independent and founder of Indie Beauty Media Group. He continues, “We are delighted to produce this program in partnership with TBV because together we share the singular focus of providing tangible and immediate value for the mentees. And thanks to the great success of Cohort 1 we are applying our learnings to make the program even more robust for Cohort 2.”

Chris Collins is one of three brands in Bridge Mentorship’s second cohort. The other two brands are Planktos and Nature of Things.

For the second cohort, the program will run from July to November. The first cohort’s program ran from January to May. The brands in the first cohort were Nopalera, Youthforia and Nette. The founders of them left the program with a much tighter grip on their financial models and distribution strategies. Nette, for example, reduced its ceramic cost of goods sold (COGS) by over 30% and improved its DTC candle margins by about 15% by the end of the program. 

“There’s just so much that goes into what it takes to be ‘funding ready’ from developing sound business fundamentals, infrastructure, strategy, everything,” says Gersten. Nuñez chimes in, “The outcome from the first cohort was so rewarding for us because it wasn’t just about helping them get from point A to point B, which was how to become funding ready and attract investors, but it was also about how do you build a viable and successful business in beauty that has longevity and that can stand the test of time.” 

Although the program is designed to be six months for each cohort, Gersten underscores that Bridge mentees become members of the TBV family for life. “We’ve stayed in touch with all of the founders from the first cohort since the mentorship program ended,” he says. “They continue to look to us as trusted advisors on so many different fronts.” Gersten believes it’s important for TBV to build a foundation with founders before the firm considers investing in their businesses.  He says, “This gives us unique insight into emerging brands and a relationship with three amazing brands that—who knows?—could be TBV investments in the future.”

Applications for Bridge Mentorship’s third cohort will open in December.