BarberEVO Magazine

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On Sunday, June 26th,  amongst the hustle and bustle of the ISSE2022 show floor, stood 4 beauty entrepreneurs ready to make their pitch for a shot at $10,000 to take their business dreams to the next level.

WorthUp Alliance founders Ted Gibson and Jason Backe were inspired to establish the program based on their own careers as beauty entrepreneurs. As celebrity stylists, salon owners, and product innovators, they have seen and done it all! Worth Up is uniting a coalition of change agents, dream makers and expert advisors like Ted and Jason who are committed to nurturing and empowering emerging entrepreneurs through education, business coaching, mentoring, networking and start-up capital grants.  The Dream Capital program consists of a mentorship period where finalists meet for weekly sessions with Ted, Jason and guest mentors leading up to a business pitch where the winners are determined. This season’s guest mentors were Zan Ray and Tom Collins from Global Beauty Business Academy and Jenny Strebe, founder of Aiir Professional.

At the conclusion of the mentorship season, finalists of the grant competition traveled to Long Beach to present their business proposals in person to a panel of industry heavy hitters. This season’s judges included Founders Ted Gibson and Jason Backe along with:

Matty Conrad – Barber, Educator, and Founder of Victory Brand Products

Janine Jarman – Curl Cult Founder, Hairroin Salon Owner, Educator and BCL Mentor

Nina Tulio – Salon Business Educator, Former Salon Owner, BCL Mentor and OligoPro Ambassador

Dionne Phillips – Luxury Lash Expert, Pioneer of Lash Extensions, Educator, Esthetician and Salon Owner

(Above: Dream Capital Judges Matty Conrad, Janine Jarman, Nina Tulio, Dionne Phillips; courtesy of Beauty Changes Lives)

As each finalist made their pitch, the judges asked probing questions about the beauty pro’s plans, finances, and vision for their business while scoring against a standardized rubric. After deliberations, the Dream Capital Grants were allocated awarding $10,000 to Erika Martin-Ware, $5,000 each to Misha Mills and Michelle Robertson, and $3,000 to Ebony Smith. The finalists were awarded live on the main stage Sunday afternoon, followed by a celebratory toast hosted by Beauty Changes Lives. 

Beauty Changes Lives is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and equipping the next generation of beauty professionals by providing valuable resources, scholarships, education, and mentorship opportunities. In a time when it’s never been more important to support the industry, all proceeds raised from the Beauty Changes Lives Experience will go to changing the lives of beauty professionals. In 2021, the organization raised over $700k in scholarships, and has awarded over 700 scholarships since it’s founding. Beauty Changes Lives is shaping the future of the industry.

To learn more about Worth Up Alliance please visit

Meet the winners of the Spring 2022 Dream Capital Grants here:

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