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BrainTrust Founders Studio Debuts New Venture Fund

Published June 19, 2023
Published June 19, 2023
Jessica Felicio via Unsplash

BrainTrust Founders Studio, the largest members-only platform dedicated to Black founders of beauty and wellness companies, announced the BrainTrust Fund, a planned $25 million venture fund. 

WHO: The BrainTrust Fund invests exclusively in the beauty and wellness sector identified via BrainTrust Founders Studio, the largest platform dedicated to Black founders of beauty and wellness companies. Founder/CEO Kendra Bracken-Ferguson and co-founder/Chief Investment Officer Lisa Stone have a proven track record in the consumer brand space. The Fund targets beauty and wellness companies with at least one Black-identifying co-founder across 20 sub-sectors, from cosmetics to AI and technology. These companies must be members of the BrainTrust Founders Studio that demonstrate traction via $1million+ in revenue from a market-tested MVP.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “We designed the BrainTrust Fund as a ‘blue ocean’ investment opportunity to capitalize on innovation by Black entrepreneurs in beauty and wellness, whom we expect to continue to outperform as leaders of culture and creativity,” said general partners (GPs) Bracken-Ferguson and Stone.

“The BrainTrust Fund exists so that as the massive and growing multitrillion dollar beauty and wellness marketplace pays off, Black founders, Black funders, and allies may participate in the upside from creating and selling what shoppers want,” said Bracken-Ferguson and Stone.

BrainTrust Fund Investor Karla Martin, Managing Director and global luxury, retail, and e-commerce lead for Deloitte, said that leading retailers and corporate acquirers are actively searching for solutions to consumer demand with products that are vegan, clean, and also racially and ethnically inclusive. “My clients are buying what they cannot build fast enough for today's consumer,” said Martin. “The notion of beauty has expanded more in the last 10 years than the previous 40, including size, age, race, ethnicity and gender. And those new segments of consumers, and in particular younger consumers, want to feel more connected to the brands they use and want brands with clear purpose. I have two daughters; our kids read labels and they read the news. It's not going to stop.”

"We’re excited by the innovation we’re seeing, and we welcome other investors, especially Black women who share the lived experience of 92% of the founders in our studio, and allies who share our values, to join us in building this ‘brain trust’ for entrepreneurs,” said GPs Bracken-Ferguson and Stone.


  • The $25 million fund is anchored by WestRiver Group, with participation by Chidinma Asonye, President, S by Serena; Tara Abraham, founder and Chairwoman, Accel Inc; Erik Anderson, CEO, WestRiver Group; Valerie Antoine-Gustave, physician; Melanie Bender, CEO, rhode; Delivette Castor, Assistant Professor; Stephanie Chung, speaker; Jotaka Eaddy, CEO, Full Circle Strategies; Anne French, strategist; Beth Haggerty, co-founder, Inflection Point Partners; Liz Jenkins, COO, Hello Sunshine; Luvvie Ajayi Jones, author; Karla Martin, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Pardis Nasseri, CEO and President, PalmTree LLC; Richelle Parham, President, Universal Music Group, Global eCommerce and Business Development; Thai Randolph, CEO, Hartbeat Enterprises; Dee M. Robinson, CEO, Robinson Hill; Bridgette L. Smith, CEO, founder, Playbook; Robert Thomas, CIO, George Kaiser Family Foundation; Igor Vaks, CEO, CreatorIQ; Beth Ward, CEO, Beth Ward Studios; Anne Clarke Wolff, CEO, Independence Point Advisors; and Julee Wilson, Executive Director, BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large, Cosmopolitan.
  • The BrainTrust Fund recently made a $1 million equity investment into Listener Brands, Inc., the parent company of haircare brands CurlMix and 4C Only. 
  • In January 2023, BrainTrust Fund participated in the $8 million Thirteen Lune seed round. 
  • Other brands in the BrainTrust Fund portfolio include BeautyStat and Uoma Beauty.

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