Can anyone say they have created a business all on their own? Even when that prospective business is just the spark of an idea, there is always at least one area where support from someone else can advance the idea from possibility to reality.
As founder and owner of the highly successful Bounce Curl, I understand the challenges of launching a business independently and am sharing that knowledge with other women who are trying to start their own companies. This is a role that comes naturally to me — in fact, I mentored my fellow classmates in college.
I am particularly drawn to mentor women who have experienced challenging life situations or are women in need, as the outcome is so rewarding and fulfilling. Everyone can help people, but when you are able to help someone create and generate their own income to pay the bills for their family, that is priceless.
Starting a business is difficult enough — and even more difficult for those who are facing challenging circumstances. Being able to operate their own business can help move these women toward a more successful life. One of my early mentees, Felicia, was raising her three children along with caring for her late sister’s two boys. She also had this great idea for products that would elevate the effects of hair stylers but little time to move that idea forward and little idea where to even begin. While authoring a blog about how she transitioned her curly hair from damaged to healthy, she connected with me, and I realized that with some help, Felicia’s dream of starting her own business could become a reality.
It was a process that ultimately took nearly four years to get Felicia’s idea to market, what with the challenges of raising her family, the pandemic and my own pregnancy! But we worked together every step of the way. The formulation stage was the longest and was especially demanding. I found Felicia needed a lot of encouragement during this process, as the formulator went back and forth from lab to testing — over and over — until the final product was ready to be sold. And that was when the actual business part of starting a company begins — which includes legal, accounting and reporting considerations. Mentoring others through this helps them navigate the learning curve I struggled with.
Although I understood the actual chemistry involved in creating my products, I had almost no business education or experience. In the beginning, Bounce Curl lost quite a bit of money by using a fulfillment house to handle product delivery. So, I went to work in my own warehouse, fulfilling and shipping orders as well as troubleshooting the electronic shopping cart that processed those orders. It was important to me to fully understand how everything worked, from product development to delivery.
I share with those I mentor not only this knowledge and best practices that I’ve developed for Bounce Curl, but also my company’s resources. Felicia’s company runs all her product fulfillment through Bounce Curl’s shipping department, thus avoiding the high fulfillment fees that I paid when my company was just starting out. When there is a need for technical support, Bounce Curl’s team is available for her. I believe that sharing my expertise and resources allow small businesses like hers to have the best chance to grow and survive; there is enough business out there for everyone — and I believe helping each other is the way for all to succeed. To date, I have mentored five women with their businesses and plan to help more in the future.
In my own business, Bounce Curl is ready to celebrate more than six very successful years in business. Originally launched with its flagship product Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel (which remains its most popular seller), the product line has grown to 15 products over six years. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Bounce Curl has achieved double-digit growth in percent total sales each year and has customers around the globe; Bounce Curl products have shipped to 150 different countries!
I am looking forward to the time when I will be celebrating business launch anniversaries with those I’ve mentored. I hope to continue and expand this mentorship program with the expectation that each mentee will “pay it forward.”
Merian Odesho is founder and owner of Bounce Curl — a company that specializes in creating products for wavy, curly and coily hair — and the creator and formulator of all Bounce Curl products. Her main goal is to empower all individuals to embrace their natural hair. Following graduation from college, Odesho recognized that the haircare industry had not yet embraced natural-derived ingredients. She paired her love of mixology and her chemistry expertise to launch a company dedicated to creating safe and clean products. Bounce Curl practices safe beauty.
Did You Know: The global natural hair care product market was valued at USD 8.74 billion (2019) and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.7% from 2020 to 2027. Millennials are a prominent consumer segment for natural hair care products. Shifting consumer perception toward natural ingredient-based products in the cosmetic and personal care domain is expected to boost demand for natural hair care products in the market.