Natural hair care is seeing an explosion in the beauty industry. As more and more Black women start wearing their hair naturally, there is an increased need for products to care for their chemical-free tresses. This is where Mahisha Dellinger and her CURLS hair care come in. Launched in 2002, CURLS offers organic hair care products for women and girls with natural waves, curls and kinks.
Dellinger wasn’t always in the hair care business. But she had a passion to promote natural hair so she left her post as marketing manager at Intel Corporation to create eco-conscious products that are natural and safe for use by all ages. “My desire to branch out and create my own beauty brand came from a sheer necessity,” she explains. “I had begun my natural journey and was in search of natural products for my newly natural hair.? The options were limited.? So what did I do? I created my own line!”
Dellinger believed in her concept so much, she used her own funds for the startup. “I used my savings for all of my start-up costs,” she explains. “Once I started selling and making a profit, I reinvested back into the company.” Then in 2003, she launched Curly Q, followed by It’s A Curl in 2008.? Dellinger had sought outside funding but her efforts to secure a bank loan failed. “The biggest challenge was getting funding. I wanted to launch on a larger platform, but my funds were limited. I attempted to get a small business loan and I was not able to do so,” she recalls.
But Dellinger?s instincts proved right and her products were an instant success. Today, CURLS products are available all over the United States, Canada, Brazil, Africa, and the UK.? The products are sold in such major retail outlets as Target, Sally Beauty, Wal-Mart and CVS. And she counts celebrities such as Halle Berry, Alicia Keys, Nia Long, Tia Mowry, Chili of the Grammy award wining R&B group, TLC, Blair Underwood, and Ashanti as faithful customers who seek out the superior quality and natural components of CURLS products.
While it may seem like more Black entrepreneurs are getting into the hair car business, Dellinger sees a new trend. “I see more non-Black owned hair care companies buying smaller brands and infiltrating the market place with copy cat products,” she explains. “The competition, accessibility to funds, shelf space, and market share has created a challenge for those of us that are Black-owned.”
Dellinger advises other small business startups to look before taking the leap. “Do your due diligence. Get a mentor. Start small, so you can learn and iron out any issues before they impact your business. Understand your core competency and strive to exude it at all times.”
But she is glad she took the leap. She says:? “I truly enjoy the flexibility, autonomy, creativity and the sheer ownership factor.”