22-Year-Old Akilah Releford Started the Vegan Skincare Empire Mary Louise Cosmetics With Just $200

mary louise cosmetics

With an initial budget of just $200, 22-year-old entrepreneur Akilah Releford may have founded a vegan and cruelty-free beauty empire.

Founded last year, U.S.-based Mary Louise Cosmetics is an organic skincare brand that aims to produce the highest quality products on the market. Its serums and mud masks are already highly renowned by beauty fans, with many citing Releford’s products as the reason behind their acne clear-up, softer skin, or reduced dryness. “I have some chicken pox marks on my face that faded significantly with this [Mary Louise] serum,” one happy Facebook user noted.

A former pre-med student, Releford was always interested in perfecting her skincare routine. She shared her tips and tricks on her social media accounts and soon gained a strong following of fans looking to learn her secrets. Speaking to Refinery29, the young beauty expert said: “Any DIY YouTube mask online — you name it, I’ve made it. One day I woke up with over 200 messages from girls asking for more detox water, DIY face masks, and body scrub recipes.”

@akiladahun wearing Miracle Serum

A post shared by Mary Louise Cosmetics (@marylouisecosmetics) on

It was through interacting with her loyal audience that Releford realized the lack of affordable, effective, vegan beauty products on the market. So, she decided to drop out of university, start her own cruelty-free skincare business, and never look back. “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” she recalled. “That motivated me to introduce more products to my customers.”

Named after two of her “extremely innovative” grandmothers, Mary and Louise, Releford’s brand is inspired by wholesome home remedies that are created using organic, paraben-free, and cruelty-free ingredients.

“We strongly believe [in] incorporating fresh ingredients into our products that will enhance your natural beauty,” the Mary Louise Cosmetics website notes. It continues, “it is such an honor for us to share our passion for skincare, beauty, and the secrets from Mary and Louise.”

More and more consumers than ever before are turning their attention to organic, natural, and cruelty-free products. Last August, makeup giant L’Óréal acquired the German vegan cosmetics company Logocos Naturkosmetik on account of consumer demand. Sue Nabi, L’Óréal’s former worldwide president, launched the cruelty-free and vegan skincare brand Orveda in 2017, earning attention from renowned luxury retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue. Last June, a report released by Grand View Research revealed that the global vegan cosmetics market is set to reach $20.8 billion USD by 2025.

Image Credit: akiladahun