There’s no glossing over it, Kenyata Gant said. Black-owned businesses are thriving in the Midwest — and big box retailers are taking notice.
“I couldn’t believe it,” recalled Gant, owner of Pink Lipps Cosmetics, announcing the Kansas City-based cosmetics startup’s acceptance into 41 nationwide Target stores.
“I would always say how I would love to have products in a department store — but I didn’t really believe that I could,” she admitted, noting she’d previously attempted to engage the retailer via a denied application to Target Accelerators.
A few weeks later, Gant received an unexpected email from a company representative that contained three game-changing words for Pink Lipps: Welcome to Target.
“It was an exhilarating moment for me. It was like a, ‘Wow, I did it’ moment. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
“The program [would have only included taking] the steps to possibly get on the shelves — but Target saw our brand as something bigger … and they wanted something more from us.”
A total of 46 Pink Lipps products have hit store shelves in key markets, though they’re currently unavailable at Target stores in the Kansas City metro. (Local shoppers can, however, find them online and at Pink Lipps’ storefront at 1112 E. 47th Terr.)
“We are in the small Black-owned business region,” Gant explained of the footprint of the partnership, which includes such metropolitan areas as Atlanta, Denver, and Philadelphia.
“[Target] wanted to put Pink Lipps in the Black [dominant product] markets where they know a Black-owned business can [thrive.] … We can be noticed by our community and meet the sales goals. They are setting us up to win.”
Pink Lipps’ products are also available about 4 hours outside of the Kansas City metro in Florissant, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
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Boasting beauty must-haves from lip liners and glosses to concealers and setting powders, each Pink Lipps’ product is intended to create a moment for its wearer and was specifically curated for Target.
Click here to shop Pink Lipps’ products online or to learn more about the company.
“Target wanted our lip products, but they were really interested in our concealers. [This was our] first time stepping out of our lip products,” Gant revealed, detailing the ethos behind Pink Lipps’ original lineup of products and how it evolved with the brand.
“A lot of times it is easy to get stuck in our day-to-day duties as moms and business owners. … Our goal is to always empower women to feel confident and bold.”
Gant hopes to see her products stocked on the shelves of local Target stores sometime in 2023. An official timeline for any potential expansion hasn’t been expressed, she said.
Pink Lipps was one of three October 2021 Kansas City GIFT (Generating Income For Tomorrow) grant recipients, receiving $50,000 from the organization which awards funds to select Black-owned businesses in order to help create generational Black wealth. Nature Made Me and Nobel Academy each received $10,000 from GIFT in October.
Click here to learn more about the trio of grantees and GIFT’s reasons for selecting them.
Launched six years ago as a storefront along Troost, Gant opened Pink Lipps as a pursuit of purpose, intended to share her knack for beauty with her community through products and services.
The business was further inspired by her strong family ties, she added.
“My passion for makeup came from my mom,” Gant recalled, looking back on her mother’s own cosmetology career and how it influenced her to become a nail technician.
Her daughter’s love for lip gloss further inspired her to take a chance with Pink Lipps, she said.
“Once I saw that it could be a business, I started to develop the products in my mother’s kitchen,” Gant said. “I was spending all of my paychecks on this product. If I was going to do it — I was going to do it right.”
Pink Lipps’ expansion into Target stores now serves as validation Gant has done just that, she said, noting a healthy sales increase in recent months and acknowledging a horizon that’s as bright as the company’s color palettes.
“This was my first time doing retail, so it was something I struggled with for a little [while.] There is a certain retail talk that you have to understand. It took a while to grasp that,” she said, reflecting on the opportunity before her and the example it set for her daughter who eagerly tells her friends at school about her mother’s success.
“It wasn’t easy, but we got it done.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.