Gwen Jimmere: Once Nearly Homeless, Now a Successful Hair Care Business Owner

Gwen Jimmere has proven you can let your current situation dictate your future. At one point, the single mom found herself nearly homeless. But today her natural hair products can be found in select Sally Beauty stores among other major retail locations.

“This is a dream; I literally started Naturalicious with practically nothing–only $32 in the bank and a 2-year-old baby on my hip,” Jimmere, Naturalicious founder/CEO, recalls. “I lost my job just 30 days before my divorce was final; and without any income, I found myself several months behind on my mortgage. Then, I got the foreclosure papers. I was at rock bottom and had nowhere to go. I was literally on my way to being homeless. But having started Naturalicious the day I was laid off with that $32, our customers have been there the entire way, supporting us and being so loyal and dedicated to our mission of creating time-saving beauty solutions for busy women. That was four short years ago, and I’m now so thrilled to be able to serve them at an even higher level, right in their own neighborhoods, with us landing in Sally Beauty stores.”

Naturalicious’ entire hair care product line is both natural and it is the only all-in-one system sold in Sally Beauty stores that does that work of 12 products in just three steps. Initially, Sally Beauty stores will stock Naturalicious’ three most popular products: Step 1: Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment–a patented formula, which fans have deemed “wash day in a bottle”; Step 2: Moisture Infusion Styling Crème and Step 3: Divine Shine Moisture Lock + Frizz Fighter.

Jimmere is actually the first African-American woman to hold a patent on a natural hair care product.

“This is a brand unlike many others because while we are natural, healthy, and started right from my own kitchen, Naturalicious is the only natural hair care brand proven to shave up to 80% off of your typical beauty routine each and every time,” she says. “So no matter how long you spend on your hair, we guarantee that you’ll save a ton of time by using our products, and not have to sacrifice quality or effectiveness in the process. I’m so confident in our line, that we will not only give you your money back, but we will also buy you a competitor’s product to replace what you returned. No one else in our industry can offer that kind of guarantee.”

At a turning point in her life, she knew she had to take an entrepreneurial risk. “At the time, I launched Natualicious out of necessity,” she shares. “I was a recently divorced, single mom who had just lost my job and all I had in the bank was $32. I knew I had grown tired of job hunting and all that goes along with the rat race, so I decided to turn my hobby of creating DIY beauty products into an actual business. I soon found that others loved my products as much as I enjoyed making them. And not only was I helping others to feel and look great, but I was also helping to alleviate the frustration they were feeling from trying tons and tons of products, only to be disappointed with products that didn’t work for them.”

But this was more than turning a hobby into a job, it was a financial lifeline. “The ambition soon turned from a personal agenda of being able to feed my son and pay my bills to provide beauty solutions for consumers through my products, and being a brand dedicated to empowering the communities that we live in,” says Jimmere.

Jimmere had many struggles to overcome–and she did just that through Naturalicious. “I hustled! I would take my products and my baby to the local farmer’s market and sell what I had. I always sold out. Then I’d take the money I made, buy more raw materials and bottles; then pay my bills and feed my son with the rest,” she remembers. “Every week, I sold a little more each time at the farmer’s market. I did this for a while to make money and eventually got to a point where I approached a Whole Foods that was opening in my area. I pitched them like my life depended on it—because it did, quite frankly—and got a one-store deal with them. We sold phenomenally well in that store, and Whole Foods then added Naturalicious to more and more of their stores. I just kept hustling my way to overcome a terrible situation.”

Her transition period made her want to help others. “I know that a woman who feels her best is a woman who can take on the world. To that extent, we regularly donate Naturalicious beauty products to organizations focused on helping women in transition to look and feel their best,” Jimmere says. “My company has also partnered with the nonprofit organization, Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), to offer jobs with great pay and skills to men and women with special needs.”

Of course, she faced startup challenges. “The biggest challenge I faced was having little to no money which made it almost impossible to create a product and business. I launched Naturalicious with only $32 in the bank. I emphasize ‘almost’  because, as they say ‘Almost doesn’t count’…and in my case, I pushed through what almost could have been, and 5 years later, Naturalicious is now sold in hundreds of stores around the world,” says Jimmere.

So how did Naturalicious products land in Sally Beauty? “Our relationship with Sally Beauty is a classic case of luck equaling when opportunity and preparation collide. I was at a beauty trade show, when I happened to have a chance meeting with the buyer at Sally, who loved my story and my product line up. I just happened to have my retailer presentation printed out in my bag, which I gave to her. A few months after that meeting, I flew to their headquarters in Dallas and we ended up securing the deal with Sally Beauty a few months later,” Jimmere says.

Entrepreneurism obviously agrees with Jimmere. “I always knew that working for someone else isn’t for me. I know my strengths and I know I’m not a great employee. The thing is: I’m very well qualified (I have a master’s degree and graduated summa cum laude), I interview well, I do the job great, but I’ve never had a passion for running anyone’s business other than mine,” she says. “So when I’d be working at a job, I would usually have a side business that I was truly interested in—and I’d find myself working on it during company time. I obviously don’t advise this, but that was how it always was for me. I’m clear on what I was put here to do, and being an employee is not my ministry.”

Now, she’s ready for the future! “In the next five years, Naturalicious will be the premiere go-to product line for naturals that is owned by us and made for us. We will expand into even more foreign markets where products such as ours are highly desired but hard to attain. At the end of the day, it’s all about “how can we serve the world best?” If we continue to keep that at the forefront of everything we do, there’s no stopping Naturalicious,” declares Jimmere.

She enjoys what she does.  “I love making a difference in the lives of others. I hope that Naturalicious’ healthy and time-saving products greatly impact busy women to live epic, full lives. I want my customers to look great and feel incredible, without having to worry about spending a ton of time in the bathroom on their hair care regimen,” she says, adding there is a bigger picture.

She adds, “I want my story and challenging times to give others going through similar situations hope to know that things can and will get better. You just have to persevere, believe that you will not lose, and do the work. I also love giving back, providing opportunities, and impacting communities through donations and our partnership with Services to Enhance Potential (STEP).”

(CLICK HERE to read about another successful hair care business owner.)