Model Winnie Harlow raises $4.1 million to launch Cay Skin, a sun care brand for all skin tones
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! WNBA star Brittney Griner is detained in Russia, Florida lawmakers pass an abortion ban, and sun care is popular with founder Winnie Harlow—and investors. Go get your Monday.
– Fun in the sun. For years, skincare has reigned as the the hottest category in beauty, with sun care, in particular, trending toward the top for consumers and investors alike. One need only to look at Supergoop!, one of the biggest dedicated sun care brands, which private equity giant Blackstone acquired late last year.
“Sun care is one of the fastest growing categories within the skincare segment,” explains Anu Duggal, founding partner at Female Founders Fund. “With more and more Americans recognizing the importance of preventative care, SPF is now the No. 1 trending claim searched across skincare with more than 40% growth year-over-year.”
Duggal’s Female Founders Fund is an investor in Cay Skin, a new sun care brand launched by model Winnie Harlow and led by CEO Cass Devor, a beauty exec with experience at Charlotte Tilbury, Bumble and bumble, and Sephora.
Cay Skin, which caters to deeper skin types but can be used by all, raised a $4.1 million seed round in January ahead of the brand’s launch last week for a total of $6.5 million in funding, the company tells Fortune exclusively. That fundraise is relatively large for the beauty industry, where the median raise in 2021 for a company in the space was $3.2 million. And the round adds Harlow to the small cohort of around only 100 Black female founders who have raised more than $1 million in VC funding, according to ProjectDiane.
“At first we were hearing a lot of ‘no’s,” Harlow tells Fortune. “It was getting a little bit scary. I was remembering my start as a model, hearing all those ‘no’s in the beginning of my career. Persevering, continuing to push through, and saying, ‘I believe in this,’ and it comes to fruition—that was the same feeling I had with Cay.”
Cay Skin’s other investors include True Beauty Ventures (an investor in the sexual wellness brand Maude and leader of the round); New Money Ventures; Air Venture Partners; and Silas Venture Partners. “We were immediately drawn to Winnie’s own sun damage story [and] her passion for inclusive beauty,” says True Beauty Ventures general partner Cristina Nuñez.
Harlow has vitiligo, and her skin condition has been a big part of her narrative since she stepped into the public eye on America’s Next Top Model in 2014. Her own sun damage experience—enduring the worst sunburn of her life after she wasn’t permitted to wear sunscreen during a two-day outdoor photoshoot because of the blue cast the product left on her skin on camera—inspired her to launch the sunscreen brand. “I was really disappointed there was nothing on the market that could give me the look I wanted with the protection I needed,” she says.
Cay Skin isn’t the only company creating sunscreen for Black skin and aiming to dispel the myth that people of color don’t need SPF; competitors include Black Girl Sunscreen, founded by Shontay Lundy and funded with $1 million in venture capital money. But for a problem as big as racial inequity in not just beauty, but health care, there’s likely room for more than one brand. Although skin cancer is less common among people of color, it tends to be diagnosed at a later stage when it does occur, leading to a worse prognosis.
Harlow’s brand is named for Jamaica’s Cays islands, and its four initial products are set to hit Sephora shelves in the coming weeks. “This is something that’s really important, not just for me,” says Harlow. “Sun protection is for everyone.”
The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Subscribe here.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Dangerous detention. WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on drug charges after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were found in her luggage. The timing of the Phoenix Mercury player's detention wasn't immediately clear, and it arrives at a tense moment for U.S.-Russia relations. Griner's friends, family, team, and league are all advocating for her release. New York Times
- On the ground in Ukraine. Olena Zelenska is Ukraine's first lady—but the position doesn't come with official duties or an office. A comedy writer before her comedian husband's run for president, Zelenska has been a voice for Ukrainian patriotism since Russia's invasion began; The moment that made CNN's Clarissa Ward stop reporting to help in Ukraine; A documentary tells the story of how Ukrainian women fought for the right to serve in the country's military; Poppy Alexander, an attorney who works with whistleblowers, argues in a Fortune op-ed that U.S. lawmakers should expand the Bank Secrecy Act whistleblower program to better track the assets of Russian oligarchs.
- Bills and bans. Florida lawmakers last week passed a bill banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions only for "serious risk" to the mother's health and fetal abnormality. New data shows that Texas's abortion ban didn't drastically change the number of women who received abortions; most received abortion pills by mail or traveled to another state.
- The latest at Activision. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick—whose company is battling claims that it fostered a workplace rife with sexual misconduct—is leaving the board of Coca-Cola. A new lawsuit brought by the parents of former Activision employee Kerri Moynihan alleges that sexual harassment at the company was a factor in their daughter's death by suicide. Activision says it will "address the complaint through normal legal procedures."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Signed into law. President Joe Biden last week signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. The legislation, championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, will block companies from enforcing mandatory arbitration in cases where employees experienced sexual harassment or assault. Washington Post
- Retail resurgence. Fortune's Phil Wahba profiles Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Fran Horowitz. She's credited with pulling off a miracle: making long-struggling Abercrombie cool again. Fortune
- Tax time? The IRS is delaying a web tool that would allow people to collect payments owed to them via the child tax credit. The Biden administration had promoted the tool as a way for payments to reach people who make too little money to file tax returns. But the agency says such a portal would cause problems this tax-filing season. Politico
ON MY RADAR
TIAA focuses on retirement and gender inequity—through basketball—in a new campaign AdAge
Confessions of a bitcoin widow: How a dream life turned into a nightmare The Walrus
In these women's hands, dating is truly the stuff of horror New York Times
-Shonda Rhimes on decorating her New York apartment. The space is featured in Architectural Digest.
This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.