Pigment is a passion for Mented Cosmetics. Founders KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson launched the non-toxic brand to offer Black women and men neutral makeup options for deep skin tones. The duo has successfully helped merge the gap in the market with safe and cruelty-free face, eye, and lip cosmetic essentials. Learn more about the beautifully packaged and vegan makeup line below.
When and why did you start your company?
“We launched Mented in January 2017. Amanda and I started the brand because we believe everyone should be able to find themselves in the world of beauty, and as deep-skinned Black women, we often felt that our beauty needs weren’t being met by traditional brands. As we started to dig into the problem, we realized we weren’t the only ones. Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian consumers from all over the country told us how difficult it was finding nude and neutral shades that worked for their skin tones, so we created a brand focused on everyday, nude and neutral shades that work for all hues.”
What has your career path been like?
“I’ve spent most of my career in retail, first as a buyer, and then as a consultant, but I always wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, so I started a bunch of small companies along the way. Thankfully none of those worked out because if they had, I wouldn’t be doing Mented today.”
What’s the core mission of your brand?
“Helping people of all hues feel seen and celebrated in the world of beauty.”
What’s your favorite product that you sell and why?
“This is a tough one! But I personally love our Skin by Mented foundation. It’s so hydrating, and the stick makes it so easy to apply. And if I can sneak in another answer it would be our High Brow pencil. I do my brows every single day, even when I’m just sitting around the house.”
What has surprised you the most since starting your company?
“The most surprising thing has been how much things change once you’re out of the first year when the focus is purely survival. Now the focus is on managing the team, managing vendor relationships, managing cashflow … it means being much more buttoned-up as a business executive and there have definitely been some growing pains. But I’m starting to really love this side of things as well.”
What’s a lesson you’ve learned as a founder?
“Most of the people who are eager to give you advice don’t really know what they’re talking about … that sounds harsh, but it’s been my experience that when people are eager to be seen as experts, they rarely are. The best advice I’ve gotten has always come from other founders—not investors, not advisors, not industry experts.”
What can we expect in the future for Mented?
“We’ve got so much in the works! New products are launching every season, and we’re working like hell to start shipping globally by early next year. We also have some exciting retail partnerships we’ll be announcing soon, so stay tuned.”
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