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Anastasia Beverly Hills Supports Black Businesses

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Grant recipients of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Grant Initiative. From left to right: Akilah Releford, Mary Louise Cosmetics; Christina Tegbe, 54 Thrones Beauty; Rahama Wright, Shea Yeleen Beauty; Paula Brown, Paula Brown Performing Arts Center; Naa-Sakle Akuete, Eu’Genia and Mother’s Shea brands; Shekesa McLaurin, Heritage Socks; Anne Lawoyin, Anne's Apothecary; and Dawn Kelly, The Nourish Spot Juice Bar.

Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) has announced the eight recipients of its $450,000 Grant Initiative to support and mentor Black-owned small businesses.

Related: Fearless Fund x Steve Madden Launch Entrepreneur Program

In addition to funding, grant recipients will be offered business mentorship from ABH, as well as opportunities to work with bankers from Wells Fargo, who will provide dedicated support and training to the entrepreneurs.

The grant recipients include:

  • Mary Louise Cosmetics: This natural and vegan skin care line was founded by Akilah Releford who took inspiration from her grandmothers who always used natural and homemade recipes. At the start of the pandemic, Mary Louise Cosmetics converted the base of its shaving products into hand sanitizer, distributing it along with other PPE to elderly members of the community.

  • 54 Thrones Beauty: 54 Thrones was founded in 2016 by Christina Tegbe and was empowered by her Nigerian aunties who would indulge her with tubs of shea butter. 54 Thrones has since ended up on Oprah's list of favorite things and have partnered with cooperatives in eight African countries to create work through sustainable job opportunities. 

  • Shea Yeleen Beauty: Established in 2005, Shea Yeleen International, Inc. is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to empowering women in West Africa and the United States through the production, sale, and use of shea butter products. Shea Yeleen is a company that specializes in manufacturing high quality, organic, fair trade skin care products and utilizing a sales strategy that incorporates women's micro enterprise development. Shea Yeleen offers five times Ghana's minimum wage and provides access to health insurance. Its business model has a direct and regenerative community impact that allows the ongoing education of more than 268 children.

  • Paula Brown Performing Arts Center: Dancer and performer Paula Brown open the doors of the Paula Brown Performing Arts Center in Prince George's County, Maryland, where brown girls in her community could study classical ballet. Thanks to the training her students have received, they have gone on to study at a number of prestigious dance academies and institutions.

  • Naasakle International LLC: Naasakle International LLC is the parent company to both the Eu'Genia and Mother's Shea brands. Founded in 2015, Naa-Sakle Akuete used her mother Eugenia's specialized expertise as the former president of the Global Shea Alliance to provide consumers with clean, affordable skin care products. It strives to increase the perception of African ingredients and the prevalence of "double bottom line" companies (companies that care about both profits and social missions). Its business model also includes a 15% profit share to support an education fund for the women in its supply chain.

  • Heritage Socks: Each sock at Heritage is a representation of the strength the Black community has shown throughout history, showcasing the trailblazers who have made a lasting impact in the world. Heritage's HERstory collection works to register voters throughout the year by providing informational events to the community. In 2018, Heritage Socks collaborated with Stacey Abrams for Governor (Georgia) and donated all of the proceeds to her campaign. 

  • Anne's Apothecary: Anne's Apothecary offers mineral-rich skin care products that are 100% non-toxic, all-natural, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and dermatologist approved. Based in North Carolina, it specializes in the use of cold-pressed oils, herbs, and clays to produce skin-loving products that are easy to use. Anne's Apothecary focuses on ethical and sustainable small batches crafted entirely by hand.

  • The Nourish Spot Juice Bar: The Nourish Spot is based in JamaicaQueens, NY and provides customers access to fresh produce with vitamins and minerals. Many of the foods offered have the power to fight diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, literally saving the lives of customers. Since opening its doors in September 2017, The Nourish Spot has partnered with The Child Care Center of NY, Pathways to Graduation, WIOA, the NYC Mayor's CCAP Program, Summer Youth Employment Program, and Queens Community House to mentor and train more than 50 young adults.

The allocation of the grants fulfills ABH's $1 million commitment to fighting systemic issues that face the Black community.

Anastasia Soare, CEO and founder of ABH, said, "In June we vowed to use our platform and privilege to amplify voices of marginalized groups that deserve to be heard. One of the best ways to support a community is to support their thinkers, innovators, and leaders financially. We are very proud to celebrate these eight dedicated and enthusiastic female entrepreneurs, and our hope is that the grants they receive will help grow and sustain their businesses during these challenging times."