ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- By enrolling in the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Shelly Sahi, MBA '16, intended on enriching her growing career in Ford Motor's business office—but as she worked with the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, she began to see a different future for herself as the CEO and owner of SAHI Cosmetics, which specializes in makeup for women of medium skin tones. In recognition of the progress SAHI Cosmetics has made so far and the potential it has for growth, the Zell Lurie Founders Fund announced today that it has made a $100,000 investment in the company.
Most cosmetics on the market are formulated for Caucasian women with pink undertones to their skin, leaving women with olive and yellow undertones—women of Arabic, Indian, Pakistani, Mediterranean and Hispanic descent—with makeup options that don't match their true complexions. Off-the-shelf options leave them looking like they're wearing a mask, due to foundation that doesn't match the rest of their skin, or with no choice but to buy multiple, expensive products to create their own blends at home. A former makeup artist and materials engineer at Ford who grappled with this problem her entire personal and professional life, Sahi saw the opportunity to use her science background to produce the custom blends she made for her clients—and herself—at scale.
"Growing up, I loved reading fashion magazines, but none of the women looked like me. I never want another girl to be left out in that way," said Sahi, who is of Indian descent. "At best, most cosmetics companies offer two or three shades for medium-skinned women, but our research shows that that number needs to be at least 14. We want to help women feel comfortable in their own skin, to own their color and be proud of who they are."
The Zell Founders Fund is a $10 million seed fund that seeks out extraordinary Michigan Ross students and recent alumni whose ventures need funding to move from idea to profitability, and is led by the students who represent the top talent from the Zell Lurie Institute's other established student-led funds. It was made possible by a 2015 gift from business magnate Sam Zell.
"SAHI Cosmetics is working to solve a major pain point for millions of women in the United States and around the world," said Ashka Dave, MBA MPH '17, head of the Zell Founders Fund due diligence team, along with Florence Noel, MBA '17, and Christine Priori, MBA MPH '17. "My fellow students and I began looking into the company after learning about it through the Desai Accelerator, and we were very impressed by Shelly's understanding of the market and strategies to effectively monetize and scale her products within it. We believe that she has all the ingredients necessary for a successful venture, and we're glad that we could help her along the way."
SAHI Cosmetics nurtured by Zell Lurie Institute
Earlier this year, SAHI Cosmetics took home a total of $27,000 as the top winner at the Michigan Business Challenge, the University of Michigan's business plan competition. It also earned an additional $25,000 investment, as well as access to mentorship, legal and HR services as part of the Winter 2017 cohort of the Desai Accelerator, a joint venture between the Zell Lurie Institute and the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.
"Shelly is the prime example of a student who has taken advantage of every resource the Zell Lurie Institute offers in order to take her startup from an idea to a reality," said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute and faculty lead of the Zell Founders Fund. "Her progress has been wonderful to watch, and the Fund is glad to support her as she continues to revolutionize cosmetic offerings for a largely underserved part of the population."
The funds from this investment will be used to create new marketing initiatives and bring new products to market. Since the first kitchen-counter prototypes mixed with Starbucks stir sticks, SAHI Cosmetics' product line has grown to include 49 different items, including the launch of the Diamond Foundation line in August. Products are currently sold directly on SAHI Cosmetics' website, and on Amazon.com.
For more information on SAHI Cosmetics, please visit https://sahicosmetics.com/, and follow the conversation using the hashtag #OwnYourColor. For more information on the Zell Founders Fund, please visit http://zli.umich.edu/programs-funds/zell-founders-fund.
About SAHI Cosmetics
SAHI Cosmetics provides luxury makeup that is custom-designed for women of medium skin tones who are underserved by the current cosmetics industry—namely, women of Arabic, Indian, Pakistani, Mediterranean and Hispanic descent. Our team's collective experience in materials science engineering and makeup artistry led us to develop luxurious products that match and complement our target complexion range. For more information, visit https://sahicosmetics.com/.
About the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Institute and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together an impactful combination of deep-seated knowledge, enriching experiences and strategic opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investment. Students' learning experiences are further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs, business competitions and campus-wide events that foster valuable networking and engage the business community. The School's five student-led investment funds, with $8.5M under management, immerse students in the entrepreneurial business sourcing, assessment and investment process. Founding Zell Lurie advisory board members include Samuel Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, and Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs Inc. For more information, visit the Institute's website at www.zli.bus.umich.edu.
About Michigan Ross
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business' mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.
Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.
SOURCE The Zell Lurie Institute