Tashara Earl
CEO, Shades of Color

In which sector is your company most closely aligned?

E-commerce / Direct to Consumer

What does your company do?

Short version: We provide an interactive, personalized virtual beauty marketplace to help beauty companies to promote and sell their products to beauty shoppers struggling to find products that match their unique skin tone, skin conditions, and allergies.

Longer version: Our personalized virtual marketplace creates a sustainable, simple, stress-free, educational & interactive shopping experience for beauty shoppers to buy beauty and personal care products in the right way to address their unique needs. We take the guessing game out of buying products by making the experience simple. Our customers receive key recommendation of suitable products based on their personalized profile preferences. We value helping our customers to build confidence in buying and using products from niche beauty brands that represent their culture and lifestyle. In addition, our multi-sided marketplace supports niche beauty entrepreneurs and micro-enterprise beauty companies by helping them directly connect their products to their true customers. Last, we support our beauty entrepreneurs/micro-enterprises with tools, information and services to help them scale their businesses to a national and international level.

How long has your company had a presence in St. Louis?

2.5 years

What makes the St. Louis region an ideal home for your company/organization? Why do you choose to operate your business here?

I am born and raised from St. Louis. I have been a part of the cosmetology space since the age of 13. St. Louis has always been a staple for the best hairstyles that set trends for the nation. Now St. Louis is a rising city for beauty CPG manufacturing. We have brands like Florae, Rebundle, Pure Vibes, Bask and Bloom Essentials and so much more. St. Louis region is a tech hub and the ideal home for Shades of Color to grow and thrive. We are here to cultivate and nurture the beauty tech space in this region. We have access to amazing creativity and talent; the ecosystem in St. Louis is supportive and filled with great opportunities to showcase our startup to diverse audiences. Plus, St. Louis provides the necessary resources to build a startup without breaking the bank.

What has been the most valuable resource (person, tool, organization) for helping your company grow? How did you find it? How do you utilize it?

St. Louis has a plethora of resources that have helped Shades of Color to grow. The ones I have found most valuable are participating in accelerators and business programs like Square One Bootcamp, Harris Stowe State University’s MECCA program, ITEN’s Velocity, SLUStart I-Corps. I find out about these program’s through fellow founders, colleagues, mentors, and organizations like Tech STL and CET. In addition, I have participated in pitch competitions like Arch Grants, Skandalaris Center Idea Bounce, STL Pitch Breakfast, Biz Blip’s Pitches Get Stitches which have lead to amazing connections to support our beauty startup. We have 3 advisors who bring great talent, resources and lived experiences to help Shades of Color effectively launch and scale our virtual beauty marketplace. Our advisors are Maxine Clark, Rodney McGee and Bryan Shannon. These programs and relationships have helped strengthen our business model and leverage creativity opportunities to partner with others to develop our beta version of our marketplace.

What advice would you give new tech companies that are trying to navigate the current market?

My advice is to join a business program, find a mentor in the market, or attend the next networking event to make a connection with someone in the field. These few steps will lead you to discovering the best path for your tech company.

What new practice or policy did you put into place over the pandemic that has positively impacted your company?

Shades of Color is all about self-care and wellbeing. My team and I talk about ways to incorporate self-care into our daily work-life routine to help us balance and keep our health at the forefront. Our team shares different wellness routines like taking brain breaks, breathing sessions, meditation, stretching, and mostly importantly taking time off. In the future, we foresee finding a way to incorporate a 32-hour work week to promote a healthier work/life balance.

Tell us about the next big thing in your technology sector. How will this affect your business?

The personalization sector in the beauty industry is booming and expected to grow $143.6 million by 2030 . More beauty companies are finding ways to personally enhance the beauty experience for each person. The beauty tech industry is finding more ways to integrate AR/VR with the digital shopping experience and especially in the Metaverse. We are exploring how our platform can establish our marketplace in the Metaverse to leverage our brand and provide more selling opportunities for our beauty entrepreneurs.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud to share from 2022?

Shades of Color was a finalist for Arch Grants Pitch competition. Making it to the finals is no easy feat. During this experience we met amazing founders who are building phenomenal startup companies and connected with previous recipients like Stephen Seaman from SwipeSum who are eager to help Shades of Color to succeed. Our team is extremely proud of this accomplishment and look forward to applying again for 2023.

What exciting development is on the horizon for your company in 2023?

We are working with some amazing creatives and developers to develop the beta app. In 2023, we will be launching our beta version of our personalized beauty marketplace. Our team is excited to bring a new experience to the beauty shopping world for all shades of color, culture and lifestyles.

How can people learn more about your company or get involved in what you are doing?

Join our email list to become a beta tester and to be the first to hear about our launch date.

Meet Shades of Color

Shades of Color provides a diverse, equitable, and inclusive global platform to empower beauty entrepreneurs and consumers with personalized solutions to buy and sell products for their unique needs, culture, and lifestyle.

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