Black Minnesota Artist Receives $55K TikTok Grant for New App Creation

Black Minnesota Artist Receives $55K TikTok Grant for New App Creation

After finding success through the creation of innovative and inclusive graphic design tools, Vegalia Jean-Pierre received more than $50K from TikTok to create an upcoming app.

Jean-Pierre started building a strong following on the popular social networking platform by posting cartoons highlighting people of color, with braids and curls, Hometown Source reports. When designing her cartoons, the Iowa State alum, who went to college on a full scholarship, realized how challenging and time-consuming it was to create the braided and curly hairstyles she and others who look like her often wear.

As a result, the product design graduate created her own set of digital brushes that easily replicate Black hairstyles, including braids, curls, locks, twists, and more. The innovative design became an instant hit, garnering Jean-Pierre views and thousands of sales from all over the world.

Her company, by.Vegalia, offers over 50 digital brushes for natural hairstyles on Clip Studio Paint, Photoshop, and Procreate, ranging in price from $8 – $20. Because of her success on TikTok, the young Minnesota-based designer was invited to participate in TikTok for Black Creatives incubator program.

The three-month program provided Jean-Pierre with resources that helped her grow her following on the platform to over 500,000 followers.

“It was a great benefit to me,” Jean-Pierre said.

She also was offered a $50K grant after pitching an idea for an app that she is currently creating.

“Our aim is to ensure Black creatives and artists have the resources they need to reach new heights in their careers and spearhead innovation in their respective industries,” said Kudzi Chikumbu, director of the Creator Community at TikTok.

In addition to her upcoming app that will provide a space for diverse artists to feel represented, Jean-Pierre also released the Melanin Magic coloring book that she created with 14 other Black artists and features 35 original magical characters of color, including mermaids, fairies, and magical girls.