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54 Thrones’ Journey from Self-Funded to Sephora

October 13, 2021 Carla Seipp
October 13, 2021
54 Thrones

54 Thrones, inspired by the number of countries that constitute the African continent (and their respective beauty rituals), is making great strides. Despite only being launched in 2016, solely through the bootstrapping efforts of founder Christina Funke Tegbe, the clean beauty brand has already advanced to the top of the retailer chain. On September 28, the brand launched on Sephora.com, as part of its Clean at Sephora category, with its bestselling Beauty Butters and an exclusive trio set.

Products are formulated with only natural ingredients sourced from Africa. Its founder has a personal working relationship with the suppliers of each key ingredient. The shea butter for its formulas is sourced from Ghana and Uganda, baobab oil from Nigeria, argan oil from Morocco, and neroli from Egypt. Product names are derived from different African goddesses like Minona, Aja, and Nejma.

“I wanted to approach beauty differently, with a strong focus on ingredients, storytelling, and attribution. The way that I could fully express that was going to the source, [which would also] take care of ingredients and transparency,” Tegbe explains. “When you have ingredients that come from a group of people, especially disenfranchised groups who aren't usually represented, including that in part of your clean beauty storytelling is incredibly important.”

54 Thrones broadcasts these beautiful nuances through its 54 Weeks of African Beauty series on Instagram, a weekly deep dive into each country’s landscape, people, history, culture, and beauty rituals—from the Swahili and Arabic influences of Tanzania, to the emphasis on cleansing through incense in East Africa, to the shea butter and black soap-filled body routines in West Africa. “You have to be different, it's even better when you're unapologetically different,” Tegbe states.

Whether it’s Sephora’s 2021 Accelerate Program or Credo’s Class for Change, 54 Thrones has received industry backing, and is a testament to the power of collaboration. “Working with Sephora has been an absolute dream. They also provided tangible things and advice that we could implement into our business networks and resources,” Tegbe proclaims, acknowledging the importance of such initiatives, although “the Black beauty brand owner is, a lot of times, over-mentored and underfunded. We still need to have accessibility to these programs, grants, VCs, and investors to make this like a full circle experience.”

With a few under-wraps product releases on the horizon, and the flourishing working relationship with Sephora, 54 Thrones is expanding its previously untold story of the vast diversity of African beauty to an unexpected consumer base. “We've acquired a new customer that we didn't even know was interested in African beauty rituals, so that's been particularly exciting,” Tegbe states. “Our work with Sephora is going to continue to help us grow our brand awareness and salience with an even wider range of audience who would probably have never found out about us.”

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