This first-generation college graduate made history founding a Black-owned clean cosmetics brand 

Abu Mubarik February 21, 2024
Tisha Thompson, Founder and CEO of LYS Beauty. Photo: LYS Beauty

Tisha Thompson is the founder of LYS Beauty, a company she started in 2021 to make clean beauty affordable for all and accessible to melanated skin tones. LYS Beauty is now the first-of-its-kind black-owned clean makeup brand in Sephoras nationwide but Thompson’s journey to creating her successful brand did not come easy.

Raised in a military family, Thompson started as a makeup artist, however, she and her parents knew how important it was for her to go to college. She became a first-generation college graduate who studied accounting while working as a makeup artist to pay for her education. 

After graduating, she worked as an accountant at PÜR Cosmetics, where she would be for over 15 years. Even though her role there started in finance, her love for product innovation and marketing landed her a role on the brand side, eventually becoming vice president of marketing and innovation until 2020.

“During my tenure there I wore a lot of hats, similar to what I do now as a startup founder,” Thompson told Fortune.com. “I helped to innovate clean beauty product development, supported brand management and marketing, and also oversaw finance and operations. My most notable campaign when working at PÜR was the viral 4-in-1 Love Your Selfie Longwear Foundation and Concealer, which launched the industry’s first 100-shade foundation range.”

While working in the cosmetics company, Thompson was freelancing as a makeup artist. Along the way, she began growing frustrated with the gap in the beauty industry and the lack of diverse shade ranges that were also formulated with clean ingredients.

“I wanted to offer affordable makeup and skin care solutions that are uniquely catered to wide shade ranges as they target common skin concerns, like hyperpigmentation, visible signs of aging, blemishes, and enlarged pores,” she said.

“People of color in general, are two times more likely to be exposed to harmful ingredients in their products…the lack of diversity within these brands caused them to create products that excluded us, and maybe not always intentionally,” she told BE.

Thompson eventually resigned from her finance job to lay the foundation for LYS. Today, her brand is in Sephora, something Thompson “never thought of in a million years.” In 2022, it was reported that it was the first and only Black-owned clean cosmetics brand sold at Sephora, with its serum foundation selling out twice.

“I think that our Triple Fix Serum Foundation did well because of the research and thoughtfulness that went into creating this product…We tested this foundation on 150 different skin tones to make sure that we were including every single one,” Thompson said.

The brand has since launched its newest edition to the LYS beauty collection, The High Standards Glow Blush Stick in seven different colors.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 21, 2024

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