Female Founder Feature – Akilah Releford, Mary Louise Cosmetics


Akilah Releford is the Founder of Mary Louise Cosmetics.

Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it?

I started my company in my dorm room at Howard University. I’ve always been obsessed with skincare and beauty products and would often create formulations in my free time and share them via social media. As my audience grew, I noticed that many people on social media were asking me about remedies for acne scarring and dry skin specifically. I decided to create a line of clean beauty products that would cater their needs, while incorporating 100% organic ingredients.

How is your company making a difference?

Mary Louise is making a difference because we are what a clean beauty company in 2020 should look like. We are mindful and inclusive of all skin types and shades and what how to future of clean beauty should be. Mary Louise incorporates at least one food grade ingredient into all of our skincare products, in an effort to harness the super powers of natural elements and bring them to your skin 🙂

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

Growing a team and making the right decision about who to bring on as an employee has (and still is) a challenge that we have faced. As a founder, your company is like your baby and you want to make sure you’re putting it in the right hands.

What is your biggest win?

Organically building a community around our products. Our community is our biggest win because it’s like another family, and that’s the best feeling! Seeing people who genuinely love your product and who are receiving results is very humbling and keeps me motivated!

Who is your role model?

Sarah Blakely. I think she’s amazing!

What do you wish you had known before starting your company?

I wish I had known that there is no perfect time to start. Today is always the best time and don’t let fear keep you from taking a leap of faith. I also wish I had known that social media makes entrepreneurship look extremely glamorous, when in reality, it’s far from it. I think it’s important for other founders to not get caught up in the hype of what they think entrepreneurship is. Become an entrepreneur because you’re truly passionate about something that will change the world!

What is your CEO superpower?

Probably answering/going through emails at lightning speed, haha!