Akilah Releford

Akilah Releford is the ultimate next-gen entrepreneur. She’s the founder and CEO of Mary Louise Cosmetics, a clean beauty brand offering vegan, cruelty-free skincare and helping a Gen-Z audience “redefine beauty on their own terms.” The Hall of Femme honoree and former pre-med student launched Mary Louise (named after her two “extremely innovative” grandmothers) from her Howard University dorm room in 2017. While she may have started with a budget of just $200, Akilah’s brand has since seen astronomical growth — Mary Louise Cosmetics has racked up stamps of approval from publications like Marie Claire, ELLE, and The New York Times, and is currently available at Macy’s, JCPenney, and Thirteen Lune, to name a few.

“Success is waking up in the morning and being excited about what you're working on,” Akilah says. “It's knowing that you are on the right path, and feeling fulfilled.”

Find Akilah on Instagram.