“If my expectations are not being met, then I’ll do it myself,” said Camille Bell, founder of Pound Cake Cosmetics.
The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute’s (IEI) hosted three trailblazing women who shared their advice with aspiring entrepreneurs.
The Careers in Color event, which took place during Women’s History month, was part of a partnership with the Temple University Career Center. This series aims to showcase the numerous entrepreneurs and business leaders of diverse backgrounds from the Temple University community as they impart their wisdom to students.
The panel was moderated by Lori Bush, MBA ’85, former CEO of the cosmetics company Rodan+Fields, co-founder of SOLVASA Integrative beauty and owner of Gremlin Vines vineyard and Oso Sonoma restaurant in Sonoma, Calif.
Bush was joined by two female founders, both recipients of seed funding from the Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund, which Bush created in honor of her late father. The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund is dedicated to supporting women founders and ventures focused on women’s products and service. It provides seed funding and mentorship opportunities from the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
The panelists each come from unique niches within their industries. Camille Bell, KLN ’15, is the founder and CEO of Pound Cake Cosmetics, which is known for its diverse shades of lipsticks. Emily Kight, TFM ’11, ENG’19, runs Ovarian Labs, a women’s health company that is trying to detect ovarian cancer early, and Biometrix, a company that uses supplements to promote healthy living.
Camille Bell, KLN ’15, Pound Cake Cosmetics
Bell’s entrepreneurial journey began when she started trying to help people truly express themselves through makeup. She created a new set of lipsticks to give all women the ability to have the lipstick shade they want. Thus, Pound Cake was born.
The biggest themes in Bell’s journey are community and persistence. Coming from a community of color, Bell knew other people had the same issue. When she created her products, her community stood behind her. They were her original investors and helped her gain credibility for future investments.
“My friends supporting me, gave me the confidence to really take this on,” said Bell.
In fact, some of her friends even interned with her in the beginning. They supported her with their time and money to make sure that she could solve the widespread issue of inaccessible lip shades for women of color.
Her community also acted as motivation to persist in times of struggle, especially in the fundraising stage of her venture.
When she received the Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund grant, she appreciated the support of women in helping her develop the product, as most of the previous investors she pitched Pound Cake to were men.
After securing her investments, Bell focused on developing her groundbreaking product through market research, a few failures and prototypes. She also relied on her community for feedback on each prototype before finally having her product come to fruition.
“Maybe other people would label us as perfectionists, but I am totally fine with that,” said Bell. That perfection paid off.
Pound Cake won the Allure Best of Beauty Award in September 2021—before they even officially launched, which happened later that same month. Since then, Bell was accepted into the inaugural cohort for Glossier’s Grant Initiative for Black-Owned Beauty Businesses, only one of sixteen ventures accepted out of nearly 10,000 applications.
Her final piece of advice to the audience was in line with her commitment to perfection and to promoting persistence among young entrepreneurs.
“If you really want something, you have to go and get it.”
Emily Kight, TFM ’11, ENG’19, Ovarian Labs + Prohibere
After suffering from trichotillomania, a condition where people have the urge to pull out their own hair, Kight became determined to help others with the condition.
“I have personal experience and a personal perspective that I felt like I could bring to the table as both a product developer and entrepreneur,” she said.
Panel moderator Lori Bush asked Kight if there was a time she failed along the way and how that instead became a learning lesson. For Kight, this came when she released her product Prohibere, a hair serum intenteded to help those suffering with trichotillomania.
Prohibere’s gel-like substance creates a cooling of the scalp to stop sufferers from pulling out their hair. After reading reviews, including some negative customer feedback, she learned how to change her formula to better help her clients.
“To me, there’s nothing wrong with failure as long as you’re learning,” said Kight.
Kight works in the biotechnology industry and is currently using her academic research experience to test her product for Ovarian Labs, a dipstick urinalysis device to detect early ovarian cancer. Right now, she is making connections with women’s health clinics to see if they’d be willing to help her with the research.
Biotechnology is a male-dominated industry and there are few female biotech investors. Kight said she has never appeared in front of a female investor or investing group with Ovarian Labs, and she encountered a lot of sexism along the way. She took those experiences, however, and used them to fuel her fire. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Vanderbilt University, something she hopes will boost her credibility when looking for grants.
For Kight, her proudest moment comes from being able to get her paper published on the research she conducted for her ovarian risk test, after which she was able to get a patent. Not only does she get to call herself an inventor, but she has patents behind her name now, too!
Kight used her participation in the IEI’s programs and competitions to make improvements to her products, business plan and investor pitches. She also took advantage of the free mentoring opportunities and used the funding she received through the Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund, the Innovative Idea Competition and the Be Your Own Boss Bowl® to continue her research and product development. The feedback from IEI staff, mentors and competititon helped to further develop her product.
“There’s always something to take away from conversations, even if it’s an answer you didn’t necessarily want to hear,” said Kight.
Bush, Bell and Kight prove that, with perseverance and resilence, women can be fearless leaders, entrepreneurs with passion for change and true innovators in their industries. They advised potential entrepreneurs to know their venture’s worth, lean on their community and learn from mistakes rather than give up.
Together, women can help each other rise to even greater heights.