The natural hair care market is getting more and more crowded by the day. Shoppers now have more options on store shelves than ever before. That’s why when Monique Rodriguez launched Mielle Organics in May of 2014, she made sure her products for natural hair stood out above the fray.
Today, she runs a successful business, whose products can be found nationwide at most major retail outlets including Sally Beauty, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid. Mielle Organics has more than 50K points of distribution and will expand even more in March 2018. A former registered nurse, Rodriguez developed her own recipes for her products by mixing organic ingredients in her home to help grow her and her family’s hair.
“As a registered nurse for eight years before launching the product line, I was already educating women by working in women’s health, but I felt so unfulfilled, however I still liked the fact that I was able to help people. I’ve always been passionate about beauty and hair, but doing something in that space professionally never crossed my mind,” recalls Rodriguez. “People were always asking me, ‘what is it that you do to your hair, how did you get your hair to grow,’ and things of that nature. I was already playing with and mixing things in my kitchen for my hair, but I never thought I could take that and help someone else.”
But her homemade products were soon in demand. “I started posting content on social media about different homemade recipes I’d use for my hair and people would actually try the things that I would post and give me a lot of great feedback. So, I just kept doing it consistently. I finally decided to make it legit because people really liked the products. They’re using it and it’s helping them with their hair growth! So, I decided to make chemical formulations to sell on the market and that’s how the whole Mielle Organics idea came into play,” says Rodriguez.
But there came a point when she knew she had to focus solely on Mielle Organics. “I stepped out on faith and decided to overcome fear and follow my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Initially, I stayed at my job to save money to fund the company however, I strongly believe in speaking things into existence. I wrote my resignation letter in May and dated it for November and I was actually able to quit my job sooner,” says Rodriguez.
Mielle Organics has more than 50K points of distribution and will expand even more in March 2018.
What was her biggest fear about becoming an entrepreneur? “It was very scary leaving my career as a RN because of the fear of the unknown. It can be difficult due to the fear of not knowing the end result but I decided to overcome fear and begin to walking in faith and trust that God would allow me and my business to flourish. It wasn’t always easy but definitely worth it in the end,” she shares. Rodriguez, who is based in Indiana, funded her startup by saving from her paychecks. Her husband joined her entrepreneurial effort as COO of Mielle Organics.
The new company owner has had her share of challenges. “The greatest challenge was not having a mentor or someone to talk to in the beginning. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own and with that comes mistakes. I feel that every mistake I made only made me a stronger person and I have surprised myself with what I am capable of and that’s what’s most important,” she reveals.
But the jump into entrepreneurship was well worth it. “Our first major retailer was Sally Beauty and there’s actually an interesting story behind it. Sally contacted us last year, and we happened to be in Texas for my daughter’s gymnastics competition and wouldn’t you know it, Sally’s headquarters is in Texas, right outside of Dallas,” she shares. “So they contacted us the same week that we were there for my daughter’s competition but we were scheduled to leave Texas that Monday and they wanted to see us on Tuesday, so obviously we changed our flight because we were not going to miss the opportunity. We didn’t have a babysitter for our kids, but they said we could bring our kids to the meeting too.”
“The greatest challenge was not having a mentor or someone to talk to in the beginning.”
She continues, “That was very special because we had a chance to bring our kids. Though they may not remember it now, our kids were at our first retail distribution meeting; that was big to me!”
“Initially, Sally’s put us in 95 stores as a test, so we pushed our consumers and followers to go to stores on February 19. That same day, the products sold out in every store that they put us in. Because of the customers’ demand and all of our consumers coming together wanting more of our products, they increased us to over 500 doors nationwide. Our products are also available at Target and CVS,” Rodriguez says.
And Rodriguez did this all with no business training, but she says having been a nurse helped her. “With me being a nurse, I would always research ingredients that would be in my products. I decided that when I developed products, I was going to be conscious of what’s actually in them and have natural and organic ingredients. Because I have a medical background I understood that the majority of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. So it was important for me to express to my consumers why they should be conscious of not only what you eat but what you put on your body as well,” she says. “I saw a void in the aspect of educating consumers on ingredients and realizing their significance. I wanted to take my background and really try to help inform and educate people on the importance of using healthier products, like using natural preservatives and organic ingredients, because I feel that’s what works better with our hair and skin.”
The first Mielle Organics product was the Advanced Hair Formula, made with herbs, amino acids and minerals that aim to support healthy hair, skin and nails, and immune system. Now, among her best sellers are: Babassu Oil and Mint Deep Conditioning Protein/Moisture Replenisher, Detangling Co-Wash, Moisturizing Avocado Hair Milk, Adult Healthy Hair Formula and the White Peony Leave In Conditioner.