NielsenIQ Beauty Trailblazer Finalists
See our inaugural class of brands and brand leaders
2023 NIQ Trailblazer Brands
Meet the NIQ Trailblazer Finalists
Founder, Mom Bomb
Heather Roberts is the Founder of start-up Consumer Product Company, Mom Bomb, which also operates a separate 501c3 entity helping families in crisis. Mom Bomb has become a leading retail brand that is growing fast; currently distributed in RiteAid, Kroger and soon to be Whole Foods. Heather is based in Boston and brings her entrepreneurial background to her current mission of creating a CPG company that is transparent, authentic and takes care of her customers beyond simply selling them a product. Never without a creative idea to solve a complex problem, she enjoys using her resources to help others and believes wholeheartedly in giver’s gain.
Whitney McElwain (she/her), is the Founder and CEO of Daybird, an anti-beauty beauty club taking back ownership of what beauty means to them through clean and vegan multitasking skincare and makeup hybrid products. As a Hispanic female founder, she is on a mission to redefine beauty standards for future generations of women. She is no stranger to the world of consumer brands. She has 12 years of experience building both startups and household names like Red Bull, Curology, and Liingo Eyewear. Most recently, she worked in Strategy and Operations at personalized prescription skincare startup Curology, where she developed go-to-market for their new brand launch Agency. Previously, Whitney built multiple consumer startups for 1-800 Contacts as a Senior Manager for the Business Incubation Group. She spent the majority of her early career innovating at Red Bull, holding various regional and national roles across brand marketing and communications management.
Founder and CEO, Daybird
Sandra Velasquez is the Mexican-American founder of Nopalera, an iconic and culture forward Bath & Body brand that celebrates and elevates Latino culture. Velasquez launched Nopalera in the middle of the pandemic from her Brooklyn apartment with no outside funding or savings while working as a CPG sales & distribution manager in New York City. The brand attracted dream retailers like Nordstrom, Credo, Free People, and over 350 influential boutiques nationwide in its first full year and has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, Telemundo, and over sixty national publications. She is the winner of the Valde Latinx Entrepreneur Grant, the Clean Beauty Summer School Pitch Grant, a finalist for the Black Ambition Prize, selected as Cosmopolitan’s The New C-Suite, and won Latino Start-Up of the year at the L’attitude Match Up Conference. She raised 2.7 Million in her seed round in preparation for partnering with a national beauty retailer. Velasquez hosts The Nopalera Podcast which chronicles her journey of building her brand in real time while sharing the stories of others in her community. In her spare time, she mentors other Latina founders.
Detara is an 8-year entrepreneurial expert featured in Forbes, Essence, Marie Claire, The Steve Harvey Show, Black Enterprise, and more. A Tory Burch Fellow and Nasdaq Milestone Maker Graduate, Tara continues to exemplify what it means to turn your dreams into reality while serving others through her innovative products worldwide. She currently sits as a Board Member for Launch Greensboro Advisory Board. On a more personal note, she’s a Mom to two adorable Darlings, who continue to inspire her daily.
Director of Sales, Made For Locs
Founder and CEO, Peak + Valley
Nadine is the founder and CEO of Peak and Valley, a mindful company that creates mushroom and herbal supplements for holistic wellness. Previously a neuroscience researcher, she now travels worldwide to mindfully source each ingredient from family owned organic and regenerative farms in India, Peru, South Africa, and more. She is a wellness entrepreneur reinventing the way we think about stress. With Peak and Valley, she’s bringing adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic healing traditions (for centuries!) to the modern consumer. Her experience with a chronically elevated stress response led her to discover adaptogens, herbal allies that help balance the body’s reaction to stress. Because she has a neuroscience research background, it was very important that the adaptogens used had very high standards for quality and efficacy. When she couldn’t find products up to par, she founded Peak and Valley in 2019. Now, she travels worldwide to source the highest quality herbs from small-scale organic and regenerative farmers in India, Peru, South Africa, and more!
Karité was founded by a dermatologist and her two sisters who are from Ghana, West Africa. They grew up using raw, unrefined shea butter from Ghana as a skin moisturizer. Because raw shea butter is difficult to spread, as kids, the sisters would mix the shea butter with over the counter lotion to make it easier to spread on their skin. As they got older they realized that they could create their own version of this, with simple, yet effective ingredients. With this, Karité was born!
Akua Okunseinde, Abena Slowe, Naana Boakye, M.D.
Founder, Spinster Sisters Co.
Kelly Perkins is the founder of Spinster Sisters Co. We are a conscious skincare brand in Golden, Colorado. We are a WBENC Certified Women-Owned and B Corp Certified business and consciously craft all of our skin, hair, and bath made with premium, plant-based ingredients, with a focus on plastic-free packaging, sustainability and great scents. Kelly grew up in Boulder, CO, and is an Eisenhower, Burbank, Fairview and CU alum (Go Buffs!). Kelly has 30+ years of operations and logistics experience, including 10 years in CPG. Prior to starting Spinster Sisters Co, Kelly worked for the US Antarctic Program, a contractor to the National Science Foundation. Kelly spent time at both McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica, as well as time at the South Pole, doing budgeting and cost control for the building of the South Pole Station.
Sejal Patel is the co-founder and CEO of Plantkos. She is a daughter of immigrant parents who moved to the United States in 1991 to give her and her older sister a better life, education and financial opportunities. She is amother of two amazing kids – 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter – who are the inspiration behind the founding Plantkos. She and her husband met in pharmacy school and together we launched Planktos in September of 2021.
Sejal has a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University Chicago and Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of Illinois Chicago. She has spent over 15 years in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry where she supported clinical research of over 15 different medications. This is where she gained in depth knowledge of product development and the clinical trial process. This knowledge and understanding along with her training as a pharmacist is what she utilized in developing Plantkos formulation and clinically testing the products before bringing them to the market.
Co-Founder and CEO, Plantkos
Founder, Flora & Noor
Jordan Karim is the founder of Flora & Noor and previous research chemist and pharmaceutical consultant who created skincare brand Flora & Noor to transform the beauty industry with clinically effective, clean, and halal certified skincare products that everyone can feel proud to use. Flora & Noor is an innovative skincare brand that targets the skin concerns of those with melanin rich skin and chronic skin conditions (eczema + hyperpigmentation) and solves the vacancy of halal certified skincare in the US by pushing the boundaries of high performance skincare and environmental and social consciousness with the power of plants, inclusivity, and innovation.
Kaylah Joseph, a 27-year old powerhouse has been boldly innovating in a myriad of industries over the past twelve years. Since the age of 21, the out-work-them-all minded go-getter has disrupted every industry she touches! Combining her love for people, her social work degree, her commitment to creating affordable, accessible, and inclusive solutions to some of life’s most challenging conundrums, she continues to hit the ground running as CEO of the fastest growing beauty brand for creating protective styles, LAID Hair Care. She prioritizes women throughout every step of their hair care journey and unapologetically celebrates hair creativity throughout the culture. From sophisticated finger waves and bobs with body, to blowouts and twist outs, to magical cornrows and gorgeous locs, LAID Hair Care has a healthy hair solution for everyone, including those experiencing hair loss. LAID Hair Care products work together in 4 simple steps to cleanse, nourish, repair and style, transforming every style into a protected style.
CEO, LAID Hair Care
Founder, Iwi Nails
Līhau Willing is a native Hawaiian woman who was born and raised in Kona, Hawaiʻi. Though she always had a love for creating, her education and career started off in math and science. She majored in Economics, worked in finance, and worked as a middle school and high school science teacher before founding her own business in 2021. A DIY nail enthusiast, Līhau was ecstatic when she discovered semi-cured gel nails while living in Korea – but found that the design options were lacking. So she decided to design and manufacture her own – and now strives to increase representation in the beauty industry by amplifying marginalized voices through storytelling in design.
As a black woman, mother, PhD Medical Scientist, and Trichology practitioner, Dr. Isfahan understands first-hand the misinformation that exists around textured hair and she is committed to educating women on holistic health approaches to healthy hair and scalp care. When she started her fellowship at Vanderbilt Medical Center, she worked on a clinical trial that focused on the debilitating auto-immune disease that primarily affects black women called sarcoidosis. This experience had a profound effect on her and has fueled her passion, drive, and perseverance to use her expertise to create an organic scalp and hair care line catering to textured hair types. After 3 years of countless hours of research and development, Alodia Hair Care launched in 2017. Today, Alodia is an award-winning, clean scalp and hair care brand. Dr. Isfahan has also won various awards such as the Pharrell Williams Black Ambition Top Prize Winner, Glossier Grant Initiative, New Voices/Barefoot Wine pitch competition, named Grand Prize winner of the Aveeno Startup Scalp/Skin Health Accelerator and was featured in a VISA commercial that highlighted women small business owners.
Dr. Isfahan Chambers-Harris
Founder and CEO, JACQ’S
Barbara Jacques is the Founder and CEO of JACQ’S a vegan and sustainable skincare line created specifically for women of color. Barbara created JACQ’S after a health scare. As a way to cope with her illness, she began studying green medicine, and holistic plant botany. The more research she did, the more determined she became to help others. She has dedicated her entire career to creating a purpose-driven beauty brand with a focus on clean non-toxic formulations, sustainability and inclusivity. In 2022, JACQ’S Skincare was named by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics the Top Black-owned Beauty Brand for her exemplary commitment to the health and safety of Black women because she has led the movement to address the injustice of Black beauty in the beauty industry. She has also been named by Essence Magazine as one of the top 75 Black Beauty Founders three years in a row and the brand has also been featured in over 40 magazines including Women’s Health, Vogue and Elle. Most recently Allure magazine named JACQ’S Skincare as one of the top 14 Black-owned Vegan Brands to Shop Right Now.