As the fashion and beauty space continues to become more saturated, unearth the companies that create products you can’t live without, predict trends, and align with your values. It’s time to take a more deliberate approach to summer shopping. You’re not just considering the items you want and need, you’re thinking about how they’re made and who they’re made by.
Launched in 2019, Visa’s She’s Next Grant Program is a global initiative that provides access to investments and education for women-owned small businesses. This year, the initiative is expanding to She's Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa, where 50 women-owned small businesses in fashion and beauty will receive mentorship, cash grants, and marketing support to help close the gender gap. From independent Black designers like Aisling Camps and Asata Maisé Beeks to personal care companies like GRN Goods and Sundays, each label within the program is making its mark on the style space in a unique way.
Below, find 10 essentials for summer, each from a different woman challenging the landscape of their industry. And for more inspiration, check out the 40 other small businesses (including vegan skin care, genderless knitwear, and eyeglasses) that have received grants and more as part of She’s Next in Fashion, Empowered by Visa, here.
Manicures and pedicures are already seen as self-care, but founder Maia Alejandro wanted to create a nail polish brand that would “improve one’s well-being.” Each of FOR TMRW’s colors evokes a certain mood: For Tonight is for feeling motivated, confident, and courageous, while other shades may be for feeling positive, inspired, or creative. Plus, each product is certified cruelty-free, vegan, sustainable, and free from the 10 most harmful chemicals commonly found in nail polish.
Each of Yo Mas’s pieces are made in Puerto Rico, where founder Joma Segarra was born and still lives. She designs clothing and accessories (mostly knits and vegan leather) through a genderless lens, merging traditional techniques (she learned to crochet from her grandmother) with new technology. The brand’s name translates to “me” and “many,” highlighting Segarra’s belief that a clothing line should be about community.
Amanda Stewart understands the power that fashion holds. That’s why the founder of New York City-based label Lou Lapel creates sustainably-designed clothing and jewelry that makes a statement. Ready-to-wear pieces are adorned in feathers for her take on everyday luxury, while earrings and rings add that much-needed finishing touch.
California-based Longway, founded by Kris Galmarini, embodies its locale: Its slow, ethical, and sustainable goods are designed for adventure. Surf pants, linen jumpsuits, easy-to-wear denim, and its signature “Celebrate the Slow” baseball hat all reinforce the mindset that less is more. A flagship location just outside San Francisco not only allows shoppers to experience the brand IRL, but also features other like-minded companies to explore.
In 2011, Candice Cox founded CanDid Art, a lifestyle brand influenced by the modern African Diaspora and cosmic geometry. Beyond kids clothes that encourage self-expression and home goods like stationary or art prints, hand-crafted jewelry is central to the business. The designs are made from recycled materials to promote sustainable creation.
You probably don’t want to think about how much lipstick you end up consuming from wear. And you no longer have to. As an alternative, founder Jasmine Tran decided to make an alternative from organic, food-grade botanical ingredients. But lipstick is only one standout from Essance Skincare’s line of raw beauty. Each of its products are meant to revitalize, heal, and protect your skin — not hurt it.
GRN Goods was born, like most impactful businesses, out of a need. Alexia Armbrister couldn’t find a great personal care brand for women of color, so she made one herself. Intentional in its rollout of products, it currently offers organic and natural skincare essentials (think: a hydrating body oil and deep cleansing clay mask) and a range of nourishing cold process soaps that smell as delicious as they look.
Aisling Camps never anticipated becoming a fashion designer, but the mechanical engineer-by-trade could no longer ignore her creative ambitions. Utilizing her background in sustainability, she launched her own knitwear brand out of a Brooklyn studio. Camps sources yarns from Italy, with each piece (macrame pullovers, crochet bras, and more) being designed either by hand or at a family-run factory in Emilia-Romagna.
MYAH is short for “Make Yourself at Home” because founder Jess Bjerke wants people to feel great in her clothing, no matter where they are. Each piece of sustainably-made loungewear, from super-soft classic tees to ribbed boxers, is ethically produced in Los Angeles. At the core of the company is a mission to destigmatize mental health, and proceeds from certain items on site benefit Made of Millions.
Nadia Martinez’s business Kallie & Co. was created through three defining moments: Her childhood in a tiny Mexican village, her emigration to the United States as a teenager, and her decade-plus as a Marine Corps spouse. These experiences all shaped the company, which sells hand-crafted goods from Mexican artisans. Its selection of shoes are all ethically sourced and 100-percent fair trade.