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Range Beauty CEO Alicia Scott On How She Scored Major Investors On 'Shark Tank'

Alicia Scott went from mixing products in her living room with $150 to taking the national TV stage by storm.

Workin' Girl

Early last year, thirty-two-year-old Alicia Scott was personally invited to appear on season 13 of ABC’s pitch competition show Shark Tank to try to convince the Sharks to invest in her makeup brand Range Beauty.


“[The email] was sent to our info@rangebeauty.com inbox and I was like ‘is this spam?” Scott tells xoNecole. But after running the name of the person who contacted her through Google to check the legitimacy of the email, Range Beauty’s founder and CEO was assured that the email was, in fact, not spam.

Scott and her cousin and operations manager Myisha Fantroy appeared in episode 14 of the show which aired last month – a career highlight on a long road to success.

Since creating her own makeup brand in 2018, there’s been a learning curve that Scott has had to contend with since becoming a first-time entrepreneur. “I'm a long-time student of Google university,” Scott jokes. “And so I use that to teach myself about everything. I used to teach myself about how to even start a business. What's needed for you to have your own business? What's needed for you in cosmetics? What does this pigment do? What does this undertone mean? I had to learn everything.”

On her journey to building her brand, Scott ran into many issues relating to accruing financial funding for her company. “I started Range while I still had my 9-to-5,” she recounts. “Up until 2019, I had always worked a 9-5 to make sure that I had funds to cover my bills but to also cover whatever expenses were needed for Range,” Scott says. ”It wasn't happening fast enough. I was like, we need more money, more money.”

After being contacted by Target and told by the retail giant everything that was needed financially to launch her brand in stores, Scott finally decided it was time to figure out a way to get investment into her company. One of the main ways she was able to find funding was through pitch competitions.

“Shortly after I launched in August 2018, I did my first competition,” Scott says. “And it was in September of 2018 and it was hosted by Arian Simone, who now leads the Fearless Fund right here in Atlanta.” Held at the Spanx Headquarters, the competition involved several rounds where competitors made their case to the judges and the judges decided who got to advance to each round. After not hearing her name called to be one of the five entrepreneurs to be on the main stage, Scott approached her judge to thank her and to also ask for advice on how to strengthen her pitch.

“You gave an excellent pitch and your delivery was great, it was just that you weren’t able to differentiate how your brand was different from others,” Scott recalls the judge telling her. “And I began telling her and she was like ‘yeah that’s what you need to put into your pitch! You need to speak to why you created this.”

Scott internalized the advice and was able to redeem herself at the next pitch competition she attended which was Noire Tank, which she describes as “the Black Shark Tank” where she pitched to YouTuber and Beauty Influencer Jackie Aina who flew her out to Los Angeles, California and covered other expenses for Scott. It was at that competition that Scott secured her first grant.

By the time she stepped in front of the Sharks at her July 2021 taping, Scott had already mastered the skill of how to tailor her pitch and delivery for each competition she did. The journey from receiving the email in February 2021 to finally being able to make it to the show was an arduous one. “Along the way they say ‘there’s still a chance you might not tape.’ And so the day we were finally there, we had been waiting in our trailer since like ten or eleven and we didn’t get to go out until like [after] four.”

Once inside the room, Scott said she could feel her heart and adrenaline pumping. Standing alongside Fantroy, her first full-time employee who she was allowed to bring along for moral support, Scott started pitching to the Sharks. “Hi Sharks!” Scott and Fantroy said enthusiastically in unison.

“It's different than what you see on TV,” Scott says. “The straight faces and just everyone smiling and they laugh at certain parts of our pitch and they’re engaged and, once you finish Mark was like, ‘excellent job,’ and everyone looks pleased with our pitch. So it went really well with our pitch, we didn’t mess up any lines. So we were really excited.”

Myisha Fantroy and Alicia Scott, Shark Tank

ABC/Christopher Willard

In a rare feat, Scott was able to secure the investment of two of the Sharks, Lori Grenier and guest Shark, Good American and Skims co-founder Emma Grede. “It's been so nice because Emma sits on the board of the Fifteen Percent Pledge,” Scott says. “She knows all about the struggles of Black businesses, not only with trying to get investments, but also trying to have space with retailers and making space in our industry. So it's really nice to have an investor who looks like me and understands the challenges.”

Grenier and Grede have been incredibly hands-on as investors according to Scott. “[Grede] has been so on the ball with just being there for us and being so accessible,” she says.” And with Lori …she's the one that's like seen it all, she's done it all. So she comes with her own perspective and experience on how things will move, the, how things will move. So it's been a great interaction and great relationship.”

In the time that has passed since her appearance on Shark Tank, Scott says that she’s grown exponentially as an entrepreneur. “I started this like mixing things in my living room with $150. And so to now be on a national TV stage like Shark Tank, sitting in front of investors who have just seen it all is magnificent.”

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Featured image by ABC/Christopher Willard

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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