Mented Cosmetics founders Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller host a pop-up shop on July 8 at Femme Fatale on H Street NE. (DB McKinney/The Washington Informer)
Mented Cosmetics founders Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller host a pop-up shop on July 8 at Femme Fatale on H Street NE. (DB McKinney/The Washington Informer)

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Mented Cosmetics, a startup beauty brand placing women of color at the forefront, brought their summer collection to the District for a one-day-only pop-up shop.

The brand had a chance to be seen by the diverse clientele of Femme Fatale on H Street NE during its D.C. debut on Saturday, July 8.

Mented, short for pigmented, specializes in nude lipsticks for women of color, a wide-open market owners KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson saw in the cosmetics industry.

“The conception of Mented was Amanda and I trying to solve our own problem,” Miller said. “We would get together about what are the things we spend too much time doing that we wish we could figure out and solve for ourselves and beauty sort of immediately rose to the top.

“I was spending money on beauty, but so often being disappointed with what we got,” she said. “We thought that was ridiculous for two people who have disposable income and are willing to spend on beauty and who are beauty enthusiasts to often feel neglected by the industry.”

Through their research, they found that women of color outspend white women on beauty supplies by up to 80 percent and most of those women are unhappy with some form of the beauty industry.

Johnson and Miller, who met while attending Harvard Business School, decided to solve the problem.

“We launched nude lipsticks in particular because that was such a big problem area for both of us,” Miller said. “Finding a shade that was an everyday shade, go-to classic.”

In fall 2015, they got to work on what is now Mented Cosmetics.

“We would meet up at KJ’s house over wine and discuss everything,” Johnson said. “We spent six solid months working on the products ourselves in our kitchens, testing it out with our friends, and when we really felt like we had a solid six shades, we started sending it to makeup artists and influencers on Instagram last summer.

“Once we built a following and people knew who we were, we launched this January 2017 and its been amazing since,” she said.

The duo said they want their cosmetics company to be a mainstay.

“We wanted it to feel like a classic luxurious brand,” Miller said. “For a lot of brands that come out today, they are all about trends —unicorns, pop of color, glow, flash. We wanted it to feel luxurious but also something very timeless that wasn’t going to go out of style in a couple months.”

This fall, Mented Cosmetics will launch four nude lip gloss shades, as well as eye shadow and blush palettes in 2018. They plan to eventually have a full face collection.

“I think KJ and I have a really great background she’s a retail vet,” Johnson said. “I’ve been in technology and marketing, so together, with our powers combined, we knew that we had the right experience to get it off the ground.”

The ladies proclaimed the summer of 2017 their pop-up tour.

“We are really excited to get out there and meet people and have them try our product on in person,” Miller said. “We had a couple pop-ups in New York, now D.C., and we are doing AfroPunk in August in Brooklyn, so we’re excited.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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