Range Beauty Founder Alicia Scott Turned $300 To $300,000 By Pitching & Pivoting

Range Beauty's Alicia Scott used communication savvy and determination to win big.

Black Woman Owned

It's always inspiring to hear a story of someone who has not only created their own opportunities, but has won big by doing so. Alicia Scott, CEO and founder of Range Beauty, is an avid researcher and savvy communicator who initially Googled her way into finding a solution to a problem that impacted not only her life, but the lives of other Black women: inclusive yet clean cosmetics. And her efforts took her to business and bankable success, turning $300 into $300,000 within the first three years of business.

The idea turned into a mission when Scott was working in the fashion industry and saw how Black models had to carry their own makeup kits because artists claimed they didn't have the tools to create looks on darker skin tones. "It made me think of the lack of shades available to us. On top of that I was dealing with eczema and acne-prone skin, so I wanted a line that wouldn't irritate my skin," Scott said in an interview with xoNecole.

"That was in 2014, [when] there wasn't as much of a clean beauty trend [around] as there is now. So when I would look for alternatives, a lot of the products that would come up were very fair shades. In doing more research, I found out about the issues with Black women being exposed to twice the amount of toxic beauty products due to the lack of products for our skin tone. Just thinking about how those ingredients were tied to breast cancer and hormone disruption, I just really wanting to create a solution."

Image courtesy of Alicia Scott

"I found out about the issues with Black women being exposed to twice the amount of toxic beauty products due to the lack of products for our skin tone. Just thinking about how those ingredients were tied to breast cancer and hormone disruption, I just really wanting to create a solution."

Google Me, Baby

Fast-forward to 2017. Scott knew she needed to do her research and used one of the best free resources available: the Internet. She was able to connect with a woman-owned manufacturer to help her create what she wanted to offer. "I didn't have the funds to work with a lab, so I skipped that step. I said, 'Well what can I do next?' I found a manufacturer by Googling what I wanted to create and came across a site called Cosmetic Index. It contains everything you'd need to start your brand. I knew I wanted one based solely in the U.S. and narrowed [the list] down to those that had detailed information. I then found her page, went through her website and Googled information about her. I called the number that was listed and went from there."

Scott's manufacturer already had experience in cultivating products for sensitive skin after personally dealing with the issue from a face surgery. "That was perfect because it was such a niche. I was able to speak with her and tell her what I wanted to create and the mission behind my line, and then work with her to get the line started. I was using calendula flower and chamomile extract [for the eczema] as a way to avoid having to use steroids which was recommended by the dermatologist. I want to be sure to keep oil at bay, so what can we use as an alternative. A lot of products that have mattifiers aren't great for our skin and can clog our pores so we talked about using French clay as an alternative. That's how everything started."

A starter kit with Scott's final formulation was sent to her home, and on her living room floor, she was able to create multiple shades of brown foundation. She came up with packaging, registered an LLC, and in 2017, Skinny Dip Cosmetics was finally born. The initial cost for the soft launch: $300. Revenue came in at about $1,000 in the first three months, Scott recalled.

Image courtesy of Alicia Scott

Social Media For the Win

Scott took the next step of building up a social media following, using yet another free resource to build her customer base, further launching Twitter and Instagram accounts for the brand. "One day, I took a picture of the product and posted it on Twitter, and one of the major influencers at the time saw it and reposted it with [the phrase] 'This is what you call Range,' and it just blew up."

She decided to close shop in order to rebrand and officially relaunched as Range Beauty in 2018. After the relaunch, revenues hit $20,000 and then went up to $45,000 by 2019. She was finally able to leave her 9-to-5 working in diversity and inclusion for a tech company, and by the end of 2020 she'd made $300,000 by the end of last year.

How was she able to scale in such a way to see big wins? More research, pitch competitions, and honest feedback. YouTube star Jackie Aina is behind a pivotal moment in Scott's journey to raise funds and continue building revenues. She revealed, "[Years ago,] I was following YouTube mogul Jackie Aina, and she posted that she was doing a grant competition for Black founders. I think the first prize was $5,000, and I was like, 'OK that's something cool.'"

"That was my first time applying for a grant or even knowing what a pitch competition was. From there, I looked into what I needed to have ready. I was already an avid watcher of Shark Tank, and I went online to search the commonly asked questions. After that, I applied, and I got into the competition. They flew us to L.A. and I pitched on her YouTube channel. I was one of two who won the grant."

After that, Scott said she got so much great feedback, that she kept applying for any grants she could, whether they were targeted to women-owned or Black-owned startups. It was at an event in Atlanta that she received direct feedback that led to a major pivot and more money for her business.

"[I participated] in a pitch competition with what is now called the Fearless Fund, headed by Arian Simone. At the time she was doing these individual pitch competitions. I applied, made it through the first two rounds, and then we went to the headquarters. I remember a judge saying, 'You have a good pitch and great energy, but when it comes down to your product, you're not telling us what sets you apart from your competitors.' At that time, Fenty had just launched, so me coming from this inclusive end saying, 'Oh we have all these shades,' and Rihanna launched with all these shades and had a whole campaign--- it's like, 'Oh, you can't really come from that angle anymore, so now what's next?'"

Switch Up and Level Up

Scott knew she had to shift her approach a bit to remain competitive and continue seeing success in getting capital. She knew she didn't want to get business loans, and she also knew she wanted to be able to sustain her company's growth. After much thought, she finally had a light-bulb moment.

"At the time, I wasn't speaking to the fact that I created this brand with eczema and acne in mind and with skincare benefits. There wasn't anyone doing that with inclusivity at the time. Once I switched the messaging and started applying that, everything started taking off. I joined New Voices [Foundation] family very early on after seeing Melissa Butler speaking on it. They would send emails that [informed subscribers] about different grant and pitch competitions and I'd just apply to all of them. I began tailoring my pitch and my application to the point where I was becoming a finalist. All in all I've received $50,000 in grant money, and I just received my first investment of $200,000 off of a pitch competition."

Range Beauty products can now be bought on the company's Website as well as in Target, a company whose relationship she's proudly maintained and cultivated since 2018.

Image courtesy of Alicia Scott

"At the time, I wasn't speaking to the fact that I created this brand with eczema and acne in mind and with skincare benefits. There wasn't anyone doing that with inclusivity at the time. Once I switched the messaging and started applying that, everything started taking off. All in all I've received $50,000 in grant money, and I just received my first investment of $200,000 off of a pitch competition."

"[By 2019] they saw me at the Essence + Target Holiday Market, and they introduced me to the accelerator team. I applied, and I was accepted for the March 2020 class. Going through the program and just receiving the welcoming I did--- the excitement about what I created---and having them say we want you on Target.com or in store was pretty validating. Even though I knew what I was doing was great for Black women for the community, having such an authoritative figure like Target say this is amazing...it was a huge thing for me."

Also, Scott counts the exposure her company received during the Black Lives Matter movement as a huge catalyst for her business growth. "To see our name pushed to the top of a lot of lists and receiving the exposure and having that followed up with different retailers reaching out, that was again, very validating. I ended 2019 and said, 'I want our sales to be at least 10K per month for 2020,' so ending the year at $300,000 in revenue was like, 'OK, this is what happens when I put myself behind this full force and full-time.'"

Find more about Range Beauty via their website or on IG @Range_Beauty.

Featured image courtesy of Alicia Scott

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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