Range Beauty Becomes The First Black Woman-Owned Makeup Brand To Score A “Shark Tank” Deal
Range Beauty has made television history by becoming the first Black woman-owned makeup brand to score a deal on “Shark Tank.”
In an episode of the ABC show that aired on Feb. 25, “sharks” or investors Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran passed on the brand focused on acne- and eczema-prone skin, but investor Lori Greiner and guest shark Emma Grede offered $150,000 for 20% equity. Although Range Beauty founder Alicia Scott and operations manager Myisha Fantroy, also Scott’s cousin, came on the show in which entrepreneurs pitch their businesses pursuing $150,000 for 6% equity, they elected to take the deal in order to tap Greiner’s and Grede’s marketing and retail expertise.
“These women are going to be able to help us make more than $150,000,” says Scott in an interview with Beauty Independent. “I want my investors to be strategic partners, and I want you to be someone who can truly understand the mission of Range, someone who can truly understand my founder story and someone who can truly understand where we’re trying to take the business.”
Scott, whose personal struggles with acne and eczema prompted her to develop Range Beauty, was especially excited to land Grede. The British entrepreneur co-founded Kardashian-led apparel brands Skims and Good America, and is on the board of Fifteen Percent Pledge, the organization started by designer Aurora James calling upon retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. Grede is the first Black woman to be a guest shark on “Shark Tank.”
“Being up there as a Black woman-owned makeup brand in front of their first Black women guest shark, being the first Black woman-owned makeup brands to receive a deal, it was everything,” says Scott. “We walked away, and it was like in the cartoons where there are stars floating around. That’s exactly how it felt.”
Having spoken with investors from a variety of backgrounds, Scott has noticed non-Black investors typically stick to the numbers rather than drill down on the mission of a company. On the “Shark Tank” episode featuring Range Beauty, O’Leary was an unlikely exception. Before passing on investing in Range Beauty, he praised the brand for addressing specific pain points. “Normally, when makeup deals come in ‘Shark Tank,’ I’m pretty hard on them because they don’t have any strategy on how to differentiate themselves,” he said. “I was expecting to eviscerate you on that topic.”
In contrast to Range Beauty, O’Leary was pretty hard on makeup brand The Lip Bar. During an episode in 2015, he referred to its funky shades as “clown makeup,” and insisted that founder Melissa Butler and creative director Rosco Spears wouldn’t be able to gain market share. “I remember watching that episode and thinking, ‘They’re never going to have another makeup brand on here,’” says Scott.
Since she didn’t think Range Beauty would have a shot at “Shark Tank,” she studied its episodes, including the questions sharks asked on them and the responses given by entrepreneurs, to prepare for other pitch competitions. Range Beauty launched in 2018, and Scott bootstrapped the brand until 2021, when it received a $200,000 investment from Fearless Fund. Range Beauty is currently in the process of series A fundraising with the goal of securing $1.5 million.
“Shark Tank” reached out to see if Scott was interested in being on the show. After determining the email wasn’t spam, her answer was a resounding yes. “My biggest thing was, of course, the investment, but also the platform and the exposure of being able to tell the world about who we are and our mission, that was a huge part of it, too,” she says. “A ‘Shark Tank’ exposure is something that you can hold on to forever.”
As Scott disclosed on “Shark Tank,” Range Beauty ended 2020 with about $330,000 in revenue. It launched on Target website’s that year and is launching on Amazon this month. The brand is in talks with Ulta Beauty and Sephora. This summer, Range Beauty is introducing the Range Impact Fund to connect underserved people of color with dermatologists across the country who will provide services to them pro bono. The Range Impact Fund will cover prescribed medication and any initial skincare recommendations.
“Thirty-seven percent of Black women deal with acne, and eczema shows up most prevalently in the Black community, but there’s an issue with, one, being misdiagnosed when we go to the dermatologist and, two, just not having the resources to see the dermatologist,” says Scott.
“A ‘Shark Tank’ exposure is something that you can hold on to forever.”
The night its episode aired, Range Beauty received over 1,000 orders for its $23 True Intentions Hydrating Foundation Sample Kit. On the show, Scott mentioned that 80% of customers purchasing the sample kit return to buy the brand’s bestselling full-size foundation.
Scott gives props to “Shark Tank” producers for bringing in more Black-owned companies. The show’s current season features appearances by Black-owned skincare brands 54 Thrones and Tania Speaks Organic Skincare, comic publishing house Black Sands Entertainment, and accessories brands KIN Apparel and Roq Innovation. Haircare brand Young King is set to appear on the show next month.
“I’m just really happy that they’re expanding their portfolio and trying to be more inclusive and diverse,” says Scott. “When you’re looking at Black-owned businesses compared to other businesses and the gaps there and how we sometimes have to work four times harder just to get half of what other brands are getting, these type of platforms are what’s needed. So, I’m just glad that they’re giving us the opportunity to showcase these businesses that we oftentimes create as a solution because no one else is creating it for us.”