On yesterday’s (March 20) episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO was able to speak with the founder and CEO of CURLS, Mahisha Dellinger. While Dellinger is an innovator in the natural hair care space, she is also known for her OWN TV series, “Mind your Business with Mahisha Dellinger,” and her nonprofit, Black Women Making Millions Academy. In the conversation, the trailblazer reflected on her success story, the challenges of being an entrepreneur, and not being afraid to fail.
Samuels opened up the dialogue by asking Dellinger about her childhood and how it impacted her life. Dellinger shared that her upbringing wasn’t a typical one. The California native was exposed to two different lifestyles from her parents. Dellinger explained that while living with her mom, she witnessed what it was like to be in the projects, where there was violence and gang activity. On the other side of the tracks, when she would spend time with her dad, the businesswoman saw a lifestyle that was inspiring. Despite moments that were challenging for the family, the visionary was grateful for both of her parents who helped her become the woman she is today. Dellinger admitted, “I feel I used to be embarrassed about my background. But now, I think it helped mold and shape me. Because grit, you cannot teach. Perseverance, you cannot teach. That is what is innate in me.”
After seeing what was possible and becoming a single mother in her early 20s, Dellinger made it a priority to provide for her daughter. When she graduated college, the mogul was able to land an internship at Intel, but her experience there was not the best. Dellinger expressed she did not feel supported by her co-workers and claimed they were blocking her from career advancement. This led into a bigger discussion about the unfortunate reality Black women still face in corporate America.
It is more common nowadays to hear about a Black woman having a side hustle because they do not feel fulfilled at their day jobs. Over time, these side hustles have become their main hustles. Statistically, Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs with 2.7 million businesses nationwide, which means more and more women are taking the leap and creating innovative ways to generate revenue. But making such a decision is no easy feat.
The Forbes Business Council member added that she was nervous when she left her full-time job, but felt that things were going in the right direction. Samuels asked Dellinger for any advice for those who may be afraid to take that leap for themselves. Dellinger responded, “We have such a natural reaction to stop when we feel fear. But fear should push you to feel, ‘There is something beyond that thing that is holding me back.’ We are so afraid of failing in this land of social media. It comes off as people are becoming millionaires overnight and [people] become afraid to take that leap. But remember, failure isn’t final. Failure is a lesson. I had to learn that the hard way.”
Host Samuels inquired about Dellinger’s biggest failure and how she overcame it. In summary, The Beauty founder revealed that it was when she launched two hair care lines without following her historical process while developing new products. This cost the businesswoman millions of dollar. According to the wealth building mentor, it was a dark year. Dellinger was a little hesitant to go into detail regarding how she responded to the business loss, but confessed that she developed a bad habit to cope and got the counseling that she needed.
The mother of four admitted, “The whole year was a blur. It wasn’t about the money. It was the loss of real estate and the feeling of rejection. But eventually, I got through it. From this, I learned that in business, your business cannot be emotionally tied to who you are as a person. You have to disassociate yourself and treat the business as a game of monopoly.”
However, the influential tycoon continued to say that because of that obstacle, she was able to work with her retail partners to ultimately launch the “Hair Under There” collection to cater to women who wear protective styles. The collection built momentum back for the CURLS brand.
Later on, Samuels and Dellinger got candid about Black-owned businesses and the controversy about selling to bigger non-Black companies. Within the last 10 years, we have seen brands like Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture, and, most recently, Mielle Organics receive backlash for selling to larger entities. The pioneer gave her point of view and said that while a lot of people may not get it, you have to have an exit strategy before you make a business plan. Dellinger stated, “I understand that we want to own what is ours. But everyone has their own journey. If you want to be intentional and careful, monitor who you sell to. That is the biggest thing. Who you sell to will determine what they will do to your brand. The DNA of your brand is important to keep.”
All in all, when it comes down to the entrepreneurial journey, both Samuels and Dellinger agreed that you must have a plan on when to start the new chapter in life and uplift the generation that follows.
If you liked this recap, tune into new “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels” episodes every other Monday at 5 p.m. ET on the REVOLT website, YouTube channel and app. You can watch the latest installment here.
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