When Nyakio Beauty founder Nyakio Grieco launched beauty e-commerce platform Thirteen Lune one year ago, physical stores were part of the long-term plans for the company. Fast-forward to today, and the e-tailer is in the process of taking over Sephora’s spot at JCPenney.
“We always created it to be a full omnichannel business,” said Grieco, who co-founded the online shop for inclusive beauty with Patrick Herning, founder and CEO of plus-size e-tailer 11 Honoré. “Getting a call from JCPenney 90 days after we launched accelerated [our plans] in a way that we never could have expected.”
Following the acquisition of her 19-year-old brand Nyakio by Unilever in 2017, Grieco was inspired to launch Thirteen Lune after seeing the outpouring of support for BlPOC-owned brands during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
Her vision was to feature premium brands from a diverse range of founders. According to Grieco, the goal is not to “recreate the ‘segregation aisle,’ like we’re seeing at some other retailers.” In contrast, the lineup is composed of a mix of brands, with 90% BIPOC-owned brands and 10% in the retailer’s category of “ally” brands.
Thirteen Lune launched with $1 million in funding from celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Sean “Love” Combs. In November, it secured another $3 million seed round led by Fearless Fund, a VC firm focused on women of color.
Grieco is among the limited number of Black female entrepreneurs who have received over $1 million in VC funding — there were only 93 as of 2020, according to data from Digitalundivided. But, she says, change is happening.
“It was a great opportunity and message to the financial community that this is the shift and where we’re headed,” Grieco said of the latest investment. While the VC world is still “mostly white men funding white men’s companies,” Grieco said she’s seeing “more representation, with people of color coming into the funding communities.”
“That’s really how we’re going to achieve building generational wealth,” she said. “It’s not just founders and brands. The venture community has to be a part of that conversation and then actively move the needle for change.”
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