Written by Dominique Fluker
BLACK GIRL SUNSCREENThis month, Black Girl Sunscreen (BGS) secured a $1 million dollar investment from a private female funding source. Despite double minority-owned businesses typically having the most challenging time raising capital, BGS achieved this milestone with one single anchor product. Currently, BGS is the only indie black-owned brand carried full time in Target’s sun care section. This came after a successful sales and marketing campaign, which focused on the importance of all complexions needing sunscreen. Now over 200 Target stores across the country sell the BGS SPF 30 and BGS Kids SPF 50. After months of vetting potential partners, owner Shontay Lundy partnered with an investor who embodies many of her traits, namely integrity, and business savvy. Black Girl Sunscreen is valued at $5 million, after recently receiving their newest investment.
In the throes of COVID-19, the five-person BGS staff implemented an “all hands-on deck” mentality to ensure the company thrived. Lundy, refused to let the pandemic slow down her progress, stating that, "I told the team we need to change the narrative and be very nimble to survive this." The team immediately enhanced their social media strategy, started working longer hours, and increased their marketing efforts. Since the onset of COVD-19, the brand has seen a tremendous uptick in e-commerce orders and will be launching a new product later this year.
Lundy launched the brand in 2016 and has amassed much success with the SPF 30 sunscreen. Their story begins with the need for women of color to have a sunscreen brand that caters exclusively to them, as Black Girl Sunscreen uses no parabens, or other harmful chemicals while infusing natural ingredients like avocado, jojoba, aloe, cocoa butter, and carrot juice which are ideal to moisturizing skin with melanin, without the dreaded white residue familiar with most sunscreen.
Traditionally, businesses with women of color CEOs at the helm, receive less than 1 percent of all VC funding every year. Black women startups and entrepreneurs are leading the pack when it comes to being marginalized, only receiving 0.2% of all funding. Despite the large funding gap, women of color, especially black women aren’t slowing up anytime with funding new businesses and diving into entrepreneurship, as minority women account for 89% of new businesses opened every day. We sat down with Lundy to speak about her new private investment in Black Girl Sunscreen and where she sees Black Girl Sunscreen going next. Dominique Fluker: How were you able to secure $1 million in capital? Why is it essential for you to have a female investor?
Shontay Lundy: I worked hard for three years. We created a groundbreaking product for an underserved market that resonated with our community. Black Girl Sunscreen brought awareness and shifted a mindset around people of color wearing sunscreen. Lastly, it didn’t hurt that we secured a partnership with a big-box retailer, which activated national exposure for our brand. Some of my favorite leaders were women. Women helping women flourish vital to me, so it felt natural. This investment is just the start! But it will help Black Girl Sunscreen reach its full potential by bringing our ideas to life! Fluker: What advice can you provide to other minority businesses looking for funding?
Lundy: My advice for other minority businesses looking for funding is to take advantage of grants and available resources, participate in pitch competitions to learn how to sell your business and gain exposure, have buttoned-up financials; and put yourself in environments to meet investors/high-net-worth individuals.