Combining chemistry knowledge and a personal interest in beauty and skin care, Clemson University student Nia Grant is utilizing the university’s resources to launch her company, Purpose Cosmetics Co.
Grant is part of a group of Clemson students working to get their startups off the ground and their products in customers’ hands. Clemson’s Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership helps students find the right mentors and programs to get their products before the eyes of investors and shop owners. Grant is interning with the institute this semester. Previously, she participated in the institute’s pop-up shops to sell her products.
Grant is a junior at Clemson and is majoring in chemistry. She founded Purpose Cosmetics Co. in 2019 after an internship with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab.
Purpose Cosmetics (the company name is derived from her first name, Nia, which in Swahili means purpose) offers natural skin care products that include body scrubs, body butters, lip glosses and other items. Grant says she sources ingredients from vendors across the country and manufactures everything in-house.
She’s continued to hone her skills through an internship at the consumer product manufacturer Procter & Gamble, where she researched consumer market knowledge, according to a release from Clemson.
Beyond selling her products, Grant has a higher mission in mind.
“I started Purpose Cosmetics to combine my passion for science, beauty and business,” said Grant. “I want to see more representation within the STEM field and to encourage other young women that science can be fun.”
When she interned with the Department of Energy, Grant participated through Peer & Wise, a program to help support women and members of minority communities in the STEM field. She noticed during her research that not a lot of people “looked liked me,” she said.
“There were not many women in the area, and there were even less Black women in the area,” Grant said.
Another budding entrepreneur, Catherine Chapman, a recent Clemson graduate, spent the past year getting everything in place so she can head full-time into her startup. Chapman also worked with the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership as an entrepreneur-in-residence where she was able to meet with a mentor about her company.
A psychology major, Chapman founded Nastro Technologies in 2020 along with Harvard University graduate Nicholas Dimitruk after the pair met at a technology incubator in 2019.
They’ve been working on their product, BitRip. BitRip is a 2D barcode on tape with the potential to be used in various ways. It holds a specific pattern, similar to that of a QR code, that can unlock data such as voice messages, pictures, documents, etc., and all available from a smartphone, according to a release from Clemson.
“If you think about a school like Clemson, they have a lot of equipment that they have to track and log and keep up with how often it needs to be serviced, and what exactly was serviced,” Chapman said. The technology could also apply to manufacturers, construction companies and military units.
On the consumer side, BitRip could be applied to appliances with information about what a repairman did last time they fixed the appliance, said Chapman.
“We’re always open to finding new ways for our tape to be used. It’s kind of a universal product,” she said. Conversations with potential customers about the product often lead to new and different uses.
“They’ll have a completely different use case where they see it being really valuable,” Chapman said.
Chapman said she’s grateful to the Spiro Institute and the connections made from her time at Clemson.
“I’m most thankful for Clemson especially with the startup and the alumni network, they have been so responsive and supportive and encouraging,” said Chapman.