A 26-year-old founder of Topicals, Olamide Olowe has become the youngest black woman ever to raise more than two million dollars in venture funding after her company announced a 10 million dollars round led by CAVU Consumer Partners. The young CEO had been included in the 2022 Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for her previous fundraise of 2.6 million dollars.
Founded in 2020, Olamide’s Topicals is the fastest-growing skincare brand at Sephora, which appeals to Gen-Z consumers through its TikTok and Instagram marketing, eye-catching packaging, and mental health advocacy. The company which has sold one product every minute, saw revenues increase three-fold in 2021. In 2022.
The company which has reimagined how consumers can treat flare-ups by developing products that contain ingredients and herbals scientifically proven to work by third-party, peer-reviewed clinical studies, is on a mission to end the stigma around these skin-related conditions.
Topicals is expected to harness the CAVU funding to expand the company and fuel brand awareness. The company is also committed to raising awareness around the connection between mental health and skin conditions.
To date, Topicals has donated more than $50,000 to support nonprofits providing mental health resources to marginalized communities. Now the company will be able to launch a 12-month accelerator program to support nonprofits in the mental health space.
Olowe herself grew up with chronic skin conditions. As an undergrad at UCLA, she spent two years working as an intern at Shea Moisture. During this time, she learned how to build a cult brand for underserved consumers. “At Shea Moisture, there was an ethos of doing well by doing good,” she says. “That inspired me to build Topicals with a social mission.”
As she began to research her skincare concept, Olowe saw a need for more products that are inclusive of darker skin tones. She was astonished to discover that 50 percent of dermatologists report not knowing how to treat skin of color. This guided her to change the narrative of Topicals to one surrounding chronic skin conditions on darker skin tones.
“Storytelling is the heartbeat of what we do at Topicals,” Olowe says. “It starts with media, it starts with mental health, it starts with all of us believing that we don’t have to subscribe to certain beauty standards. Beyond disrupting the ointment category, Topicals helps people accept and embrace flare-ups and have fun taking care of themselves. As someone who grew up with chronic skin conditions, it’s so rewarding to see people talking about their skin journeys in a positive way.”
According to Olamide, the greatest challenge she has faced is fighting against the industry norm, which demands that beauty companies constantly roll out new products. The research and development process for Topicals is longer because they test their products to ensure they’re delivering the absolute best. Fortunately, the company’s digital campaigns combined with the efficacy of the products has kept consumers coming back for more.
Olowe cautions young people with an entrepreneurial drive not to hesitate to get started. “If you psych yourself out, even just a little bit, you won’t do it. Don’t even think about what you can’t do. Just ask, ‘Why not me?’”
On how to build a brand that consumers would fall in love with quickly, Olowe said,
“Number one, identify your purpose, and your brand ethos, and stick to it. Secondly, don’t shy away from culture. I am a data-driven founder, and I color that data with culture. Bring your own experiences into the way you build products and talk to your customers.
Find true partners that share your vision and support your mission. At this stage of growth, it is crucial for us to have an investment partner who can provide value outside of capital. CAVU Consumer Partners offers a team of experts ready to roll their sleeves up and do the hard work of taking this brand to the next level.”
according to reports, more than 85 million Americans, or one in four, suffer from chronic skin disease such as psoriasis or hyperpigmentation.