This is How You Launch Sephora's First Black-Owned Clean Beauty Brand
Success stories

This is How You Launch Sephora's First Black-Owned Clean Beauty Brand

Launching a best-selling clean beauty company doesn’t happen overnight, after one viral TikTok video. For Tisha Thompson, it was decades in the making. “I fell in love with beauty as a makeup artist at MAC Cosmetics, but as a child of military parents, education came first,” she said. “I received a business degree, then made my way to the corporate side of the business. From there, I spent 15 years honing my experience in product development, brand management, marketing, finance and operations before venturing out to launch LYS Beauty in February 2021.”

But she didn’t just launch any beauty brand. LYS Beauty is the first Black-owned clean beauty brand at Sephora (more on that later). Thompson noticed a gap in the industry (as most successful entrepreneurs do)—she couldn’t find makeup that had an inclusive share range, was made from clean ingredients and also targeted common skin concerns. For example, their hero product, the Triple Fix Serum Foundation, is available in 35 shades and has all of the benefits of your favorite serum (think: ashwagandha, hyaluronic acid, turmeric and avocado oil), but with the coverage of your go-to light-to-medium coverage foundation.

We chatted with Thompson recently about what the future of clean, inclusive beauty looks like, how her definition of success has changed and her first beauty memory.

What was your first beauty memory?

“My first memory was learning how to apply mascara. My mom would always tell me that I was beautiful and didn’t need makeup, but taught me how to apply mascara so I wouldn’t poke my eye out. Her reluctance always stuck with me and empowered me to use makeup as a form of expression. The goal is to have fun with it, but to always be confident without it.”

Congratulations on launching at Sephora! What has the response been like?

“We entered the market at such a pivotal time in the beauty industry and I’m grateful to have introduced LYS alongside Sephora. The Sephora beauty customer is a passionate and progressive beauty lover and we’ve been able to connect with them over our products and create our own community: the Confidence Crew. I think the modern beauty consumer was hungry for clean, wearable, everyday products and our range offers just that, so we have been met with the warmest welcome.”

LYS beauty foundation, concealer and powder

What did success mean to you growing up vs. what does it mean to you now?

“Growing up, I was always focused on being a CEO one day but NEVER did that dream feature me as the CEO of my own company. I always envisioned working in a high-rise building in a big, metropolitan city, running a company. (The success is even sweeter now because the company is mine). As I’ve grown up, this definition has shifted a bit because I measure my success on the impact I have around those around me. When I saw the power that makeup has to make people feel seen, celebrated, loved, confident, creative, etc. the concept of success had a completely different meaning. Now, success looks like formulating products and creating campaigns that help connect people to who they are at their happiest… which can be difficult when the world is busy telling us what we have to be.”

What does a clean, inclusive makeup industry look like to you?

“Right now, the term ‘clean’ is unregulated, and I think coming to a general consensus of what that looks like is the natural first step in making an industry-wide shift. From there, a clean and inclusive industry looks like brands prioritizing quality over quantity in every step of the product development journey. These are products that sit on the skin all day, so it’s worth going the extra mile to ensure the formulas are good for the consumer. In fact, it’s necessary!

As for inclusion, the first step is ensuring the teams behind-the-scenes are reflective of how diverse and multifaceted the consumer is in order to actually serve them properly. Having that diversity of thought, ethnicity, skin type, etc. in the comfort of your own office ensures that not only the products are formulated from a global lens, but the messaging and imagery that supports it, resonates, as well.”

And now onto Rapid Fire… Who are you inspired by?

“Easy. My mom! She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever met.”

How do you unwind?

“What is unwinding? LOL. Ideally spending time with my husband in the evenings over a glass of wine.”

How many unread emails do you have?

“128. Nighttime is my favorite for working through emails.”

What do you look for in an employee?

“I like hard-working, dependable and adaptable people who are truly passionate about the mission we’re on as a company. Makeup is fun, so I’m attracted to candidates who are excited about this work.”

Best piece of advice you ever got?

“Be hyper-focused on the financial success and well-being of the business… be profitable.”

Worst piece of advice you ever got?

“Not to launch my own brand because it’s too risky, over-saturated and difficult.”

What does the term 'girlboss' mean to you?

“It means defeating all the odds against you to achieve your dreams. Webster defines a boss as “a person who exercises control or authority,” so a girl boss just means overcoming any obstacles in your path to get there.”

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