Founder Profile: Camille Genise Heard
An inside look at Feloh
Tell us a bit about your company
FELOH [Fell•Oh] is a conscious and inclusive social marketplace just for beauty. What makes us unique is that when our users post their content in our social community, we give them rewards called “curl coins” to shop our marketplace (where independently owned beauty brands list their products to sell).
What inspired you to start your business/ what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
FELOH started in 2014 when I was in grad school. I was desperately looking for advice and products for my super curly hair that kept tangling and shedding. There were Facebook groups, youtubers, blogs, influencers, and a growing number of these smaller indie hair care brands that were selling online. The academic in me did some research, and this is what I learned: I was NOT alone in my desperation for quality advice on products. In fact, this is NOT a hair problem; 98% of beauty consumers research a product online or read reviews before they buy! I also learned that the composition of the beauty industry is dramatically changing. Independently owned beauty brands take up more than 20% of the $500B global industry, and they are a huge threat to the L’Oreals, Estee Lauders, and P&G’s of the world. However, I also learned this rise in entrepreneurship is causing a bottleneck, making it harder for these indie beauty brands to grow to multi-million dollar companies. The market opportunity that FELOH seeks to address is centralizing digital beauty content to ease the pain points of beauty consumers, while also providing a new channel marketing and sales channel for indie beauty brands, so that more of them have a chance to thrive.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
This past August, we launched our improved MVP version of the FELOH, and to date we have 200 users, 60 selling partners, and over 2,000 quality made beauty products in our marketplace. We’ve also won two pitch competitions (one which was hosted by the international platform Black Girl Ventures), and have been featured in the Plain Dealer and Cleveland local news. However, the most encouraging win is seeing the impact we’re making on the indie beauty community. Our 60 selling partners are our biggest advocates and cheerleaders, and we are getting in-bound interest every week from brands ready to list with us.
What is an obstacle you anticipate grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
We’re a double minority founded company (Black + Women). Being at this minority intersection in the tech and beauty world has proved its challenges particularly with pre-seed funding. To date, myself Camille (CEO, Penn 2013) and Jacqueline (COO, Penn 2013) have primarily self-funded FELOH to validate our concept. We’re learned that many start-ups are able to access a few $100K to build their initial MVP to validate, gain traction, and grow. However, our persistence to keep moving and keep finding ways to grow our momentum is a testament to what we are able to achieve with so few resources. I am excited to see what we can do once we raise our first external investments.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
- We are raising our first pre-seed round and would love to connect with early funds / angels that understand the movement in the beauty / retail tech industry.
- 2) We are also looking to network with individuals that hold social or cultural capital in the beauty world (influencers, journalists, reporters, bloggers, etc.)
- 3). We’d love to have you join our growing beauty community! You can find us in the App Store and GooglePlay today!