Vogue Club’s Meet the Founder series roared back with a spring event in LA on Saturday featuring the 26-year-old skincare mogul Olamide Olowe, the CEO and founder of Topicals. The member-exclusive event featured a celebratory brunch at the West Hollywood EDITION and an in-depth discussion with Olowe on everything from entrepreneurship to building her Black-owned business from the ground up. Designer Jacques Agbobly, Selling Sunset star Christine Quinn, EYC agency founder Cora Delaney, and British Vogue’s Julia Hobbs joined Vogue Club members for the fête.
While in conversation with Vogue, Olowe shared stories about growing up as a teen who struggled with skin conditions—something which negatively impacted her mental health. “I feel like today I’m still balancing my masculine and feminine energy,” she told Vogue Club. “Growing up with a lot of skin conditions, and felt really alienated from what I saw in the media… and I spent a lot of time on YouTube to try and find a solution—I was always a veracious learner.”
In college, the El Paso native was pre-med, and ran track at UCLA on a full scholarship. “I’m a recovered people-pleaser,” she said. “I’ve been an over-achiever my whole life—being Nigerian means that honor and respect for your family is really important, and there’s a lot of pressure to be someone to everyone—but if you start to overthink the pressure, you get bogged down.”
Olowe co-founded the beauty brand SheaGIRL in 2015 in partnership with SheaMoisture, which was later acquired by Unilever, but it was Olowe’s experience with SheaMoisture that was the key catalyst for spotting the gap in skincare which her own business concept would soon fill when she learned that Black consumers were considered only a niche audience. Topicals—launched in 2020—seeks to treat a diverse range of people with efficacy and safety for all skin tones, aiming to transform how customers feel about their skin through both effective products and mental health advocacy. (Olowe also believes in doing good with her business, and continues to donate a percentage of profits to various mental health organizations.)
Vogue Club members eagerly tuned into Olowe’s transparent advice about everything from venture capital funding to business learnings—as well as her candor about her own journey with self-acceptance. “Communities of color need to lean into opportunities when they come without feeling as if one is ‘taking a handout’,” Olowe said, “because we are a communal society—and we all need help.”