When Kendra Woolridge decided to give a name to her nail polish business, she decided that two of the women who inspired her the most should receive that honor: grandmothers Janet Lee and Jo Woolridge.
“Fueled by my passion for polish and love for family, I discovered my commitment to clean beauty, while on my journey to create a luxurious nail lacquer that provided beauty without the consequences associated with toxins commonly found in nail polishes,” Woolridge said.
The grandmothers-inspired business draws on the strength and power of the founder’s ancestors, winning a first-place $10,000 prize from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey pitch competition. The competition was part of “New Beginnings: Make It Count,” on Oct. 18 at the Gathering Spot located in Northwest, D.C. The second- place prize of $5,000 went to Rejuvenation, a 100% plant-based alternative energy drink company led by CEO Anna Cobb.
Woolridge and Cobb competed against four other Black Washington, D.C. area companies for the prizes.
They made their pitches in front of judges—Aisha Bond, Danielle Walker, and Howard R. Jean of the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce—in addition to their supporters. The contestants had three minutes to deliver their presentations and the judges questioned them for two minutes on such topics as marketing strategy, personnel, and plans for the prize. The contestants with the highest overall scores were selected as the winners.
The Winning Presentations
Woolridge said that if she won the competition, she would use the $10,000 for various purposes in operating Janet & Jo.
“I have a large purchase order that needs to be filled,” she said.
Woolridge added that her nail polish is presently in spas, specialty stores and hotels. She developed the vegan-based nail polish through “trial and error” and said she employs five people and has sold over 75,000 units.
Cobb said she named her energy drink “Rejuvenation” based on giving someone a second chance at life. She said that in a sense, energy drinks bring vitality back to the body.
Cobb said 275 retailers nationally sell her product, noting that national grocers Harris Teeter and Kroger carry her drink.
“My goal is to see Rejuvenation become a household name,” she said.
Ben Osei, field mark manager for Jack Daniel’s, said helping burgeoning Black businesses is what his company seeks to do.
“With the New Beginnings: Make It Count program, we are able to promote the growth of local business and inform more consumers of Black-owned ventures to support,” he said. “Research has shown that Black entrepreneurs were hit the hardest economically by the pandemic. Since 2020, Jack Daniel’s has run this program so that Black founders have equal opportunities for business success.”
Source: Washington Informer