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Meet the recipients of the Caress • IFWOC COVID-19 Grant Program


June 24, 2020


Did you know that of the 1,800 new businesses started by women in this country every single day, 89% are founded by a woman of color? Yet we all know the sobering stats by now: women of color entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of VC funding.

To address this funding gap, I had the honor of announcing the launch of IFundWomen of Color in partnership with Caress at the New York City Women’s March. IFWOC is a platform dedicated to supporting diverse entrepreneurs with access to the capital, coaching, and connections needed to launch and grow successful businesses. Since the announcement, the team at IFundWomen has been hard at work building the IFundWomen of Color community from the ground up - the response has been incredible. We continue to receive hundreds of applications and have had entrepreneurs apply from almost every U.S. state, with a bulk of our entrepreneurs hailing from New York, California, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Florida and Illinois.

We’ve built a community of women who are building platforms to decrease the number of students with undiagnosed learning disorders, taking a one-size-does-not-fit-all approach to the tools we use to take care of our hair, and reimagining the products we use to sanitize and clean our homes.

With applications pouring in and excitement mounting for IFWOC, our lives completely changed in an instant when the global COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses around the country and forced millions of Americans to stay at home and shelter in place. A majority of our entrepreneurs saw revenue disappear overnight and their businesses slow down to a stand still. The second blow to our community came in the pursuit of federal aid. The Paycheck Protection Program reconfirmed what we already knew: minority-owned businesses are continuously shut out of traditional funding options.

In response, IFundWomen worked closely with Caress to immediately identify opportunities to support women of color as they bring their ideas to life during this critical time.

I am so proud to share that Caress has committed $1,000,000 over the next 2 years, with $500,000 in COVID-19 relief grants to support women of color-owned small businesses in the IFundWomen community. 200 women of color-owned businesses from the IFundWomen of Color community will each receive a $2500 COVID-19 relief grant through this partnership.

Meet this week's Caress • IFundWomen of Color COVID-19 grant recipients:

Maryam Ajayi
Founder of Dive in Well

Dive in Well creates meaningful opportunities for change-makers to facilitate on and offline conversations as a catalyst for change and accessibility.

Angela Hawkins
Founder of Bamblu

Bamblu provides linen and sleepwear made from organic bamboo fibers that create an irresistible sleep environment while elevating comfort and quality.

Christa Lynch Jones
Founder of Brooklyn Braised

Brooklyn Braised is helping to build a stronger food ecosystem by participating in creative ways to reduce hunger and protect the environment. We partner with shelters and organizations like City Harvest to get food to those who are most vulnerable.

Jessenia & Natalia Rios
Founder of Little Lola & Tots

Little Lola & Tots is a community, cultural and educational playspace offering open play, enrichment classes, a preschool alternative program, after school, and parenting workshops for families in Brooklyn NY.

Kalilah Wright
Founder of Mess in a Bottle

Mess in a Bottle is an expressive brand that allows you to say whatever you want without ever having to say anything at all. Our t-shirt company allows you to put bold and witty messages about love, career and life on t-shirts that come packaged in reusable bottles.

Taylor Jay

Taylor Jay empowers women with beautiful, versatile, comfortable, sustainable fashion basics that easily adapt to any lifestyle. In response to COVID-19, Taylor has launched a line of face masks handmade with her signature Kotten Collection.

Melanie Fernandez
Founder of House of Lilac

House of Lilac is a premium flower company based in miami that delivers flower bouquets and arrangements all across the city and ships curated gifts nationwide.

Najla Austin
Founder of Ethels Club

Ethels Club is the first private membership club and workspace created with people of color in mind. Our mission in building a network of branded spaces is to shift the narrative around coworking and social clubs into a platform to empower our members and their communities.


Kim Roxie
Founder of LAMIK Beauty

LAMIK Beauty is a vegan makeup line made with natural and organic ingredients for women of color.

Shawanda Mason
Founder of The Chattery

The Chattery is a fun and safe space for adult learning. From budgeting for retirement to mixing a classic cocktail to mastering Excel, The Chattery offers a diverse course selection. We listen to the community's needs and interests, and we collaborate with other like-minded organizations.


Yosara Trujillo

Sweet Water Dance & Yoga is a four thousand square foot wellness center proudly serving the South Bronx and surrounding areas.  We offer dance, yoga, fitness and wellness classes and workshops that are accessible and engaging for our local community, and guests as far away as Brooklyn, New Jersey and Westchester County. 


Renate Garrett
Founder of Freakinsweetjars

The sexiest damn dessert jars ever. Our product is insatiably delectable for anyone’s taste buds. It gives families and friends a unique experience when it comes to enjoying their desserts.

Shiann Orle

Dance Center of Florida (@DCFstudio) is a multi-use local dance studio located near the Wynwood Arts District. DCF Studio provides professional instruction in a variety of dance styles, helping students to develop an appreciation for art, express themselves creatively, and lead physically healthy lifestyles.

Lundyn Carter
Founder of Laine London

A first-of-its-kind, minority woman-owned rental bridal shop providing chic, high-end bridal gown rentals at sensible prices.

Gabriela Anggono
Founder of Rookie Humans

Baby & children's bedding inspired by the magic of childhood. We search high and low to find incredibly talented artists who bring their unique interpretation of dreamland to each of their designs. Every sheet is a backdrop to a delightful story, and every baby is the protagonist.

Salma Nakhlawi
Founder of StrongHER Girls

The Movement is dedicated to teaching girls, womxn, and folx of marginalized identities how to empower themselves to be strong, from the inside-out.


Nhi Lam
Founder of Coconut Whisk

Coconut Whisk offers vegan, gluten-free, fun, easy-to-make and better-for-you baking mixes that give back. With every purchase, we also donate a plant-based meal to a kid in need.



Jasmine Jones

Cherry Blossom Intimates (CBI) is an award-winning, female-led startup that provides customized and inclusive protheses and lingerie for breast cancer survivors and everyday women alike. Unlike traditional, behind-the-curtain fittings at medical shops, CBI is the first company that offers completely customizable, fully insurance billable post-mastectomy prosthetics with a state-of-the-art fitting experience.


LaToya Stirrup
Founder of KAZMALEJE

KAZMALEJE (pronounced cosmology) is dedicated to creating innovative, lifestyle-amplifying tools and accessories to improve their customers' hair care and beauty regimens. Their 5-star rated KurlsPlus Detanglers are their signature hair tools that were designed to minimize breakage, reduce detangling time and be gentle on the hair and scalp.


Margarita Clarke
Founder of JumpRydz

JumpRydz provides viable transport on a rideshare platform when parents/guardians are not available. This allows kids to continue being involved in enriching programming and get safe rides to and from school when the bus is not an option.           

Shannon Maldonado
Founder of YOWIE

Yowie is a lifestyle shop and design studio based in Philadelphia working to bring their colorful storefront back to life!

Marty McDonald
Founder of Boss Women Media

We engage, encourage, and empower female entrepreneurs and corporate queens through the power of community, resources, and self-confidence.

Harroop Kaur
Founder of Hours New York

HOURS is a modern, high quality and sustainable fashion brand, exclusively in sizes 14-28. HOURS' mission is to empower plus size women to expect more from their wardrobe, with fashion that’s clean and versatile using thoughtful design, exceptional quality fabrics, and an obsession with fit – all done through a sustainable supply chain. 

Tracie Shelton
Founder of Alamo Kitchen

We are a shared use commercial kitchen; helping food entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Anya Ranganathan
Founder of Bad Apple Produce

Bad Apple Produce is a for impact venture with a mission to reduce food waste and hunger in the New York City metro area.