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Pound Cake Cosmetics co-founders Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez. Photo Credit: Khanya Brann/The Temple News
Pound Cake Cosmetics co-founders Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez. Photo Credit: Khanya Brann/The Temple News

Pound Cake Cosmetics wins $1 million grant

The brand won Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Competition, which aims to help Black and Latinx-owned businesses.

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Pound Cake Cosmetics, an inclusive makeup brand started by two Temple University alumni Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez, has won a $1 million grant from Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Competition. The competition is part of Williams’ nonprofit, Black Ambition Prizes which “invest capital and resources in high-growth startups founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.”

The competition is split into two tracks; the General Prize and the HBCU Prize. Competitors are whittled down from 249 to 50 after a 3-month mentor program. There is then a public voting period before the grand winners are announced on Demo Day.  

"He called my name and Pound Cake and the tears just started pouring down. I just couldn't believe it. I walked on the stage and I was crying. I gave the Black Ambition team hugs. I gave Pharrell a hug,” Bell told 6ABC News.

“I just can't believe we won a million dollars to propel our business even more. There's only a handful of Black, female entrepreneurs that have been able to raise a million dollars or more. It's a very tough thing to do," she added

Pound Cake Cosmetics was launched at the end of September 2021. The brand’s five red lipsticks were designed to fit different skin and lip tones. Bell got the idea for the brand after seeing limited makeup options for people of color. 

Prior to the brand’s launch, it won a $10,000 grant from Glossier’s Grant Initiative for Black-Owned Beauty Businesses and an Allure Best of Beauty award. 

The accolades and investment money didn’t stop there, however. 

Prior to the brand’s launch it won a $10,000 grant from Glossier’s Grant Initiative for Black-Owned Beauty Businesses and an Allure Best of Beauty award. 

The accolades and investments didn’t stop there. Pound Cake won a second Best of Beauty award this year. It was also one of eight companies selected for Ulta’s MUSE Accelerator Program, and its lipstick was named one of the Best Inventions of 2022 from Time Magazine.

The new grant money from the Black Ambition Competition will be used to expand the brand’s line. 

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