This March, The Tease is bringing you stories from women who are #MakingHairstory, #BakingBeauty and #DoingItForTheCultuHer. Learn how these influential women are breaking barriers, disrupting their industries and empowering others to do the same all month long.
After years of being frustrated with the hair industry’s lack of products for natural hair, entrepreneur, author and TV host Mahisha Dellinger was inspired to create a line that’s healthy and accessible for all. Thus, came CURLS, Dellinger’s hair care brand for curly hair retailed at Target, Walmart and JCPenney.
When she isn’t working on CURLS, Dellinger is giving business advice to fellow entrepreneurs on her Oprah Winfrey Network show, Mind Your Business with Mahisha. You can read more about Dellinger’s story of success in her book, Against All Odds: From the Projects to the Penthouse.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dellinger about the inspiration behind her business and how she’s managed to create her own empire.
The Tease: How did you get started in the hair industry?
Mahisha Dellinger: I was working as a Marketing Manager at a Fortune 500 company when I noticed the lack of products on the market for natural hair like mine. It was then that I decided to leave the company in order to pursue my passion and create effective and eco-conscious products for natural textured hair that are safe for all ages to use.
What inspired you to create CURLS?
I decided to create CURLS Beauty brands in 2002 due to a lack of natural and organic products for women of color with textured hair. I knew I deserved better, so I created what me and my customers were looking for.
How would you describe your relationship to hair?
It is a FULL-on love affair! I love every turn, kink, curl and wave on my head. I treat my hair like THE finest silk blouse money can buy. It is ME.
Women are often discouraged from sharing their accomplishments, but we want to hear about them. List some of your career highlights. What are you most proud of?
Beyond successfully navigating the world of entrepreneurship, I am extremely proud about my show on the OWN network, Minding Your Business with Mahisha. I was able to help so many female entrepreneurs achieve success.
What are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the industry and how did you overcome them?
Hands down… lack of funding was my #1 struggle. Despite having exceptional personal credit, I could not get a business loan to save my life. I had to start over… start small and use my own resources to grow my business.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
You are never too smart, too big or too successful to ask for help.
Are there any women in the industry who inspire you or your work? If so, who?
I admire all women that are reaching for the stars and those that decide to chase their dreams instead of dreaming their dreams.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other women within the hair industry?
Be authentically original; you will never make it riding off someone else’s coat tail.
What’s next for you?
SO much! Stay tuned…