Highsnobiety

Listen up, beauty entrepreneurs: Estée Lauder wants to bring your business to the next level. The cosmetics giant just launched The Catalysts, a new program that will provide mentorship, financial support, and project support to burgeoning beauty talent.

Applications for the program are open now — new brand founders, existing brand founders, and creative storytellers looking to launch a beauty-related project (a book, film, or podcast, for example) are all encouraged to apply.

Two winners, who will receive up to $250,000 in grant money and mentorship from Estée Lauder's endless network of industry insiders, will be selected by a jury of experts including fashion multi-hyphenate Michèle Lamy (she also happens to be married to Rick Owens), Global Creative Director of MAC Cosmetics Drew Elliott, and makeup artist to the stars Hung Vanngo.

The Catalysts is the brainchild of Estée Lauder's New Incubation Ventures (NIV), a three-year-old investment arm that incubates new and emerging beauty brands.

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"Beauty is emerging in so many different new ecosystems — it's led us to play in non-traditional spaces," says Shana Randhava, NIV's senior vice president and a member of The Catalysts' jury.

"Long-standing definitions [of beauty] are changing and redefining. What does beauty mean? What does luxury mean? What does wellness mean?" The Catalysts will help "build ecosystems," Randhava says, to fuel the brands challenging our pre-conceived notions of beauty.

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There's no better place to discover emerging talent than on social media, which is why TikTok is partnering with The Catalysts on a series of masterclasses on what it takes to build a brand.

"TikTok is a place where rising and established talent alike show up and engage," says Vanessa Craft, TikTok's global head of partnerships who will also sit on The Catalysts' jury. "This program is exactly about that. It doesn't matter what stage you're at — it's about [whether] you're innovative. Do you have an incredible idea? Can you engage with a community?"

The masterclasses, which will begin rolling out on The Catalysts' TikTok on Friday, will cover everything from brand strategy to community-building to product development. Each masterclass will be taught by a brand founder with first-hand experience with the challenges and obstacles new founders often face.

"[They've] gone through these journeys and are there to lend support in terms of what's worked, what hasn't worked, and learnings from both," Randhava says.

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Prospective applicants have until August 4 to put their name in the ring (head to The Catalysts' official website for more details). In the meantime, Craft offers a bit of advice to burgeoning beauty creatives. "Anyone taking part in this program is going to want to be activating and exciting [community]. Think about where in the space you sit. Are you bringing together a diverse group of folks who maybe haven't been spoken to before? Are you educating, inspiring, or entertaining?"

Craft concludes: "Lean into what you know and what excites you. If it excites you, there's a good chance there are a heck of a lot of people on the platform that are just as interested."

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