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52
Published on
June 30, 2020

052 | Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail with Mahisha Dellinger, CEO of CURLS

Summary

Mahisha Dellinger is the CEO and founder of CURLS, a leader in the natural hair care market providing exceptional products across U.S., Canada, and international markets. CURLS products are a favorite among celebrities like Alicia Keys and Halle Berry and can be found at major national retailers, including Wal-Mart and Walgreens. Mahisha shares how she overcame adversity, built a successful brand, and continues to mentor and inspire female entrepreneurs. 

Highlights

  • How Mahisha overcame adversity and broke into the corporate world
  • Turning lemons into lemonade with a toxic supervisor
  • The lessons Mahisha learned during her time at Intel
  • The experiences that inspired Mahisha to pursue entrepreneurship
  • The importance of having a great team both personally and professionally
  • How a market need for natural haircare products inspired the creation of CURLS
  • How success isn't something that is built overnight
  • Why you should have people smarter than you on your team

Mentioned Resources

Episode Sponsors

This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.

Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.

You can email Chris Snyder, President of Juhll Digital Agency, at chris@juhll.com, or contact their team today and find out which of their services will work best for your success story.

Tweetable Quotes

"It takes grit - because you have to have thick skin and know and believe in you and your product enough." - Mahisha Dellinger, CURLS

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"Just because I got a 'no' doesn't mean it's never - that's 'not today.' And does it mean that my product's not good enough or that I'm not good enough. It means that they don't see the value YET." - Mahisha Dellinger, CURLS

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"One thing that definitely helped me grow faster was...changing my team and having the right people on my team. I've had the opposite before and...it could be so detrimental to your business." - Mahisha Dellinger, CURLS

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"My baby, the eight-year-old, said 'I'm going to be the one to take over the business mommy.'" - Mahisha Dellinger, CURLS

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"And how do you know where you're going if you don't have a plan? Failing to plan is planning to fail. So that's rule number one." - Mahisha Dellinger, CURLS

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Mahisha Dellinger

CEO and Founder, CURLS

Mahisha Dellinger is the CEO and founder of CURLS, a leader in the natural hair care market providing exceptional products across U.S., Canada, and international markets. CURLS products can be found at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and other national retail chains.

Episode Transcript

Chris Snyder [00:00:43] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder fintech startup Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. A quick word from our sponsor. Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems while working as an extension of the executive team. To learn more, go to Juhll dot com. That's Juhll.com. Or you can e-mail Chris directly. That's Chris@juhll.com. OK, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my guest today. Mahisha Dellinger is the CEO and founder of CURLS, a leader in the natural hair care market providing exceptional products across U.S., Canada, and international markets. CURLS offers customized hair care regimes, personalized hair care support in live workshops on demand. CURLS products are a favorite among celebrities like Alicia Keys and Halle Berry and can be found at major national retailers, including Wal-Mart and Walgreens. Mahisha is also here today to share the story behind the CURLS brand, as well as how her company is giving back in light of COVID-19. Welcome, Mahisha.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:02:16] Thank you for having me.


Chris Snyder [00:02:18] Absolutely. I'm so excited that you're here today. You know, one of the first questions I ask everybody because our guests love to hear backstories. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up, and how you got to where you are today.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:02:31] Wow. That's a whole lot in one question. Well, my background was very colorful. I would say I'm definitely not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Definitely not born on the right side of the road. Tracks definitely came from a very disenfranchised background. Impoverished, lots of crime. Definitely generational cycles of poverty, gang activity. My brother, I caught up into the gang world and the criminal world and, you know, in prison and back and forth with drugs. So everything around me, family-wise, neighborhood, wise examples in the community were all pretty destitute. They were very nothing to look up to. Nothing to aspire to be, you know, just hope to make it alive. Most of my friends were pregnant by 15, some of their brothers make it to see 18. So it wasn't a place where hopes and dreams lived. But I did have a peek into another world. My father and my mother never married. He came from a great prominent family. College-educated, everyone. Lots of people who are historically known in my dad's family. And because they were from different families, they say it was a love affair that could not go beyond just that. So I was a product of that. But I was able to see over the weekend how the other half lived. And that gave me a peek into how my life could be if I shifted things and did different things differently. So he gave me that example. And that's what gave me the drive to live differently, really seeing that it was possible.


Chris Snyder [00:04:13] But the pressure, I can only imagine because I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, too. I mean, obviously, there's  different problems with different groups. But at the end of the day, it does feel like you're not in control of how you grew up. Right. You just know that when someone gives you that peak and then you have to come back and live the other 50, 60, 70, 80 percent of your life in here. So many people that don't make it out. How did you go to one side and say, wow, this is an amazing way to live and I want to figure this out and then go back to the other side of the track and then just have to deal with all this crap. I can't imagine the schooling was amazing. I can't imagine the friendly support was amazing. I can already imagine, you know, between food and violence and just all the things that we know happens. How did you or why did you decide to do it a different way?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:05:13] Well, it was enough pressure seeing how we lived. And, you know, food insecurity was real for us. And my mom just being left to fend for myself because she had to work so much, being insecure and a lot of ways from always having to move every other year, you know, changing schools, lack of stability, all those things innately.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:05:35] I'm a Type A personality. Just that's who I am. And I like control and like to have things in order. So that didn't feel good for me. And so I knew internally that I definitely wanted something different. So it was just enough to experience it to go. This is not feel good. What should I do differently? My father was in my ear at the same time showing me and telling me, look at X, Y, Z gives you one, two, three. Like he may. And it was very clear in his life like his path resulted in this. My aunts and uncles and everyone else and my family. Sounds and great aunts that are all of that accomplished, so amazing amount of amazing accomplishments. Eric Holder, former attorney general, my cousin on my dad's side. Jeff Malone, NBA star. Also on my dad's side, Vivian Malone, she was the first to graduate from the University of Alabama, the first African-American female, and has done a lot within the community, with Martin King and done a lot of amazing things. Great. And so these people have had historical impacts. Right. And it's possible it was in my blood, my bloodline. So I realized that, OK, I live here. But because I'm David Vernon's daughter, I can I don't belong here.


Chris Snyder [00:06:49] Yeah, it's a bit it's interesting. It's a bit of a blessing and a curse to be to know what you know about that side of the family. But then also be put into a situation where probably from the age of, what, seven years old or eight years old or 10 years old, you're basically a young adult, which I might argue has maybe helped you get to where you are today because you had to have that struggle with pain. You can't you can't have the gain. So could you talk about maybe how that experience has helped you become who you are today?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:07:27] I agree. A hundred and ten percent. That level of responsibility, determination, grit, self-reliance, motivation, all those things definitely helped to form who I was at first. From first grade on, I was left to get myself up to school, dressed, packed lunch, get myself there, lock the house, come back, do my homework, chores, and then go out to play. I had my own management happening internally like I knew what to do and I got it done from first grade on. Never in a million years. I left my first grade to do any of that, you know. And it was just crazy. So I managed myself. And so I think totally that having that level of responsibility definitely helped me. My brother was also left to his own devices, but that put him on a different path. So I think that having an environment can either do you good or take you under.


Chris Snyder [00:08:23] It's everyone's just wired a little bit differently, so. So you got you graduated high school. Where do you go to college?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:08:30] Well, I was set to go to Spelman. All Oh, my family went to HBCU which was, you know, historically black colleges, universities. And so I had my eyes set on Spelman and I was super excited. My aunt was gonna let me use her address and, you know, not to have to pay the, you know, the outside of state fees. And then I went to get involved with my oldest daughter's father and wound up having a baby early. And so I had to stay locally. My mother I went to California State University and did night school for the first two and a half years of her life. So my mother can keeper and I send her to daycare or a babysitter. So I had to go to school longer if it took me longer to finish college. So I didn't go to Spelman. I went to a local university. Took me longer to finish because I wanted to make sure she was taking care of my mother and shift in my life all the way, all the way down to something completely different than what was planned. But it wound up working out. I graduate later, but I still had amazing offers and opportunities would entail.


Chris Snyder [00:09:36] Got it. Yeah. So Intel, I mean, you're thrown right into the corporate world. And as we think about this as an audience and as I think about this, you've got someone that has limited exposure probably to like corporate America. I'm assuming you go to college, single mom. Is that so? Go to college like night school weekends. Probably working single mom. You do the whole thing. Right. So at this point, you're like, what? Twenty three. Twenty four years old. You're twenty-four years old. You get a job at Intel Intel Corporation.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:10:10] Yeah, that's. I was interning before. I actually was. That's why I got my foot in the door because it's really hard to get on an intel extremely hard. So I actually was hired as an intern. I had a six-month contract and I was making like seven dollars an hour at my part-time job. And I got this opportunity to make like I think was 18 hours intern, which was phenomenal. I was more than double, but it was only six months. I took the gamble of, OK, this will go away. I won't have another job. Let me see if it works. I took the gamble and I, I took the internship and towards the end of it, I was actually able to meet the I.T. manager or president of I.T. Marketing. And I mentioned to Lew Lewis Burns at the time, I said, I really don't want to leave. I would love to stay. And he said, let me see what I can do. We were talking back and forth and he made it happen. So after my internship was done, because it is such a great job that I was able to stay on, I worked Monday, Wednesday, Friday, all day at Intel as a temp, and went to school Tuesday and Thursday all day. So I never left. I was an intern stay through until I graduated and then when I graduate at two job offers inside.


Chris Snyder [00:11:22] That's amazing. And what was your focus or degree? Because obviously you're a baller businesswoman now. Were you always a business? Was there a business degree in college or how did you do that?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:11:33] Yeah, I was a business major concentration of marketing. So they hired me in I.T. marketing and I did. I started out as a copywriter. I wrote for competing news, which was their print publication and a circuit, which was the Internet site. And so it was a lot of writing and then I got projects. Later, Psystar, I went from writing a hundred percent to adding projects on top of it. And that was really fun.


Chris Snyder [00:11:55] So you must have learned a lot about I.T. computers, chip manufacturing, because this is this had to be really highly technical writing to write, right?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:12:05] It was a lot of tech, while at first it started off really fluffy doing on in like interviews like Lewis Burns, that BP. I sat down with him to do an interview for the Internet site. And through that interview, we establish rapport. And then I went on to do other things. But initially, it was a lot of interviews and writing and features and stories for the publication which was distributed to all of our employees.


Chris Snyder [00:12:30] So now you're at Intel. Between internships and now full-time employment for years.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:12:38] I was there a total of eight years.


Chris Snyder [00:12:40] Wow. OK. So so, by the way, Intel, first of all, getting a job at Intel is is really, really hard. Extremely. Deyn there. And being okay is really hard because there's been some turbulence with tech. I'm assuming this was in the 2000, 2001, like late 90s. Yep. Thousands. That was a tough time. You manage. You survived, right? Yeah. And then what happened? You woke up one day and you're like, I want to do my own thing. Like, how did this happen?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:13:15] Well, I, you know, and actually I'll say it's even to. On top of that, they do layoffs every four years or so. Oh, you know, I made it through two of those. So, yeah, it was pretty tough. It was a great place. I thought until is like New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. That was my training ground. That was what made me be tough. This is what I am. I really learned a lot. There are a lot of amazing people. But I did run into one person that wasn't amazing. And that was one of the managers that I worked for now until they really like and encouraged for you to change jobs every 18 months. So you get a new piece of the business, a new vision, new a new level of skills. So I had a host of different managers over the course of the years, and all of them were great except for the one. And this one was helping on getting rid of me. And I had in my mind that I was going to actually work and retire from Intel. Not I didn't think I was the entrepreneur. I wanted to work at Intel, climbed the corporate ladder, make my mark. Retire later with all these stock options, just do a great job. And that was all I had in my mind. And when he put me on a corrective action plan to get rid of me in six months, that's their way of legally doing so. I was devastated. I was stressed out because I was a single mother. I was embarrassed. I was devastated. I cried for like two weeks straight. It was just the worst experience ever. And he blocked me from leaving. I tried to interview out and he would say horrible things when people called. So I was kind of stuck. You end up leaving and going on to another Intel site. So I was able to get out of that department. I got a new manager. And that's in that moment, I knew I had to do something different because while I never experienced that before him and never experienced it after him, it happened. And maybe fearful of that it could happen again. And I can't change the color of my skin. And I can't, you know, this is why I am so I'm going to take the limits of dough and then just make the best-tasting lemonade money can buy. What is that look like for me? Entrepreneurship. I control my own destiny and not everyone has a closed mine like that. But unfortunately, I ran into that and that was really what propelled me forward.


Chris Snyder [00:15:29] Well, I don't know. I mean, I, I think there's a lot of corporate America just shenanigans that, you know, you line up your performance on a spreadsheet and, you know, that's obviously a key indicator. And people are playing status games in games that just weighs probably 50 percent of the time at the office and has nothing to do with the job that you guys were there to do, like all of us. And right. With partners. It happens with clients. It happens with employees. It happens with friends like the world. And the world's getting a little bit more weird. I mean, it does happen for no particular reason. Like, I don't know. Right.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:16:11] Yeah. Yeah. It was pretty devastating. But, you know, I had a full-circle moment because once I left and went to a different department and it was, I think, in November of that year. So when I had my review top of January, all my accomplishments were under that old manager and that manager that, you know, said I need to be fired. He'd make me slower then and needs improvement. And when I went to the new department, I was actually ranked faster than my peers and got a big bonus. And all these stock options. So I knew it. But that was my validation. And I was vindicated, you know.


Chris Snyder [00:16:47] So you're at Intel. Why not just go to AMD? Why not just go to Micron? Why not just go to IBM? Why not just go to another huge. You're clearly qualified. You've got the creds for it. Go somewhere else.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:17:01] Well, I did OK. I did not go to a competitor, but I went to start selling legal drugs. I went to Pfizer. I went to Pfizer Pharmaceuticals because I knew I wanted to be my own boss at this point and not and really all my destiny. And the only way I can launch a business and also have no income coming in was to work something more flexible. So pharmaceutical sales have more flexibility. So I actually would work eight to noon and get all my doctor's appointments in and seen and all my scripts signed by noon. And I would come home after that and work on CURLS. I did that for like three years.


Chris Snyder [00:17:36] Wow. So you had a side hustle before it was popular. Maybe to have a side hustle. Right.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:17:41] It was insane. It was a lot. But I did it. I think I did it too long because it was a lot like I would make sure I was the first rep in the office to see my doctors. And I had all the great drugs first in their class. I was always able to get an appointment and then the latter part of my day all about CURLS and then put the babies down. I had two additional kids and it and most of all that. So three kids now and then. I wouldn't put them all asleep and then work some more in the evening.


Chris Snyder [00:18:09] That's. Yeah. So. So that's kind of funny. People are. Paul, you gonna ask how the hell. He should do all of this. Now, what I tell people is like people like us entrepreneurs that that are doing. We don't have a choice. That's what I tell people. Yes. So maybe you have a different message for, like, how you can do twenty-two things in a day when most people fail to even get out of bed in time. Like, how does that work for you?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:18:37] Well, I definitely would say my husband helps so much. The two that we had after my oldest are 14 months apart, and that was a complete surprise. So it was like Irish twins. We had two the baby and a toddler. It was a lot. We did have a nanny to help. I worked from home, so I was able to work and play, work and eat lunch with them working and, you know, continue to, like, break my day up and really still see them. But at night, if I need to work longer, has got to help. He saw what I was doing. He saw a vision so he would pick up the slack for me in that critical crunch launch time. So my support system was my. My wife and my fantastic nanny, who's still a part of our lives. She loved my babies like they were her own. And then my husband and me. We did. As a team.


Chris Snyder [00:19:27] Yeah. Yeah. You got to have its people first. You have to have a good team. By the way, those people are really hard to find, right. Yes. Your life partner, your nanny. The people that help clean the house or the, you know, just your group of folks that you need to rely on because none of this is possible without a team.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:19:45] And outsourcing  - I did a lot of outsourcing. Like, I no longer cleaned my home. It just I had to have someone come and do that. Those things I had to outsource. That was the first to go, which I wasn't mad about.


Chris Snyder [00:19:58] Yeah. So I actually all jump ahead on one question then, you know, since you mentioned outsourcing, you know what you're really good at. You're outsourcing everything else. What is your superpower? What are you really good at.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:20:12] Wow, that's a great question. I love. I think the thing that gets me going and I really enjoy is that product development. I really enjoy creating, developing, and marketing new products. That is great. That is fun. It's just it feels like it's like my, whenever anyone asks what's the favorite target job, it's that hands-down.


Chris Snyder [00:20:36] Yeah. Yeah. We need I mean, we need more of that. We need more building. We need more innovators. Like I tell my kids, they're 10 and eight. If I see them looking to buy something, I go, okay. Before you buy anything. Wow. What are you building? What are you building? Right. So that it's easy to grab mommy's phone, look on Amazon and go. I want that. I want that. I want that. Here's an idea. Go get your Legos out and build something. Bank of mom and dad will buy it. But it has to be of equal or more value than the thing that you want. You can't just do it without building stuff. That's how the whole economy works.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:21:12] Right. I love it. I love that.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:21:15] So you're a builder. That's awesome. So tell me about you're working at companies very corporate, right? Pfizer, these Intel's. This is Andy Grove stuff. There's been books written about the kinds of people that work there and the kinds of things that they build and create. These are world-class companies. Right. How in the hell did you store a hair care company? How does that even...like, I would even know what to mix, how to do. Like, I would even know where to start. So tell us how that happened for you.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:21:52] Sure. Well, let's see. First, I knew I needed a chemist, a cosmetic chemist, because I don't have that background. So I Googled cosmetic chemists and I think that was AOL or whatever it was Google in the day. Yeah. And I found a cosmetic chemist society side of cosmetic chemists. And I went through the directory and started talking to people and looking for what I needed. And we got I found one. And we start with four products. And he quoted me on his cost to do four. We went back and forth on a sampling of the prototypes to a ship and to me, I would test them and say, like this, love that, change this, hate that. And we all went back and forth for nine months until we liked it. And I liked it. And then we approved it nine months later and went to production. And I knew that I needed someone to fill packed ship label these items to me. So I found my CO packer and then I said a very small, like very small need to get not thousands of units each. I bought a couple of hundred each. I had four items as I would like two or three hundred of each of those. And when and when I lie. But it was very small. No social media. So I didn't have an opportunity to like have a blogger, you know, boost me on social or hardware. None of that. Yeah. It was a lot of guerilla marketing, a lot of grassroots. Nothing easy at all.


Chris Snyder [00:23:15] Got it. So what was the problem? When did you decide that this was the problem, they call it product-market fit, founder market fit, investor market fit. I'm assuming you bootstrap this. We don't need to talk about investor or market fit, but product-market fit. What was the problem you were trying to solve when you said this is the thing that I have to do not sell? You know, Pfizer's stuff and not work for big chip companies. I want to solve this problem because I'm passionate about it.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:23:44] Well, yeah, that was easy. I'm actually it launched we launched on the cusp of transitioning back to natural air. When women of color were now going back to a natural texture, they were forgoing relaxing and straightening their hair. And I was one of them. So I was looking for products that I would make my hair feel good and not greasy and not chemically and not straighten it, but just embrace it and enhance my CURLS and make them look beautiful. I didn't find options beyond those on it on the bass aisle, which weren't from. My texture. So, again, it was untapped to me. Let me see if there's that opportunity for other people that need this product. I did my due diligence and there was and relax or sales start to go down, down, down. All the Kit Perm's in the African community, and I was one of them. So I said, okay. This is sustainable. Let me move for it. So it was really at the right time.


Chris Snyder [00:24:34] How did you do guerilla marketing? Did you literally? Because I think about packaging. I think about labeling. I think about all the things that you need to think about to bring a product to market. You didn't have no-code websites like Squarespace to do this on. There was no Twitter. There was no way to build crudities. So what did you consider guerilla marketing back in the day?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:24:55] Well, then we did have chat groups. OK. There are a lot of targeted chat groups. So we did a lot of hair care chat groups and we actually give people samples by collecting their data. So you give us your email, we will send you a sample. We also launched on this place called Naturally Curly dot com, which is huge now, but it was a small chat group that was all about women talking about their curly hair problems. And that really got us forward in front of that market because they had already bought them into this one space. And I was able to launch there with interviews and banners on the side and product samples, offerings, and different promos.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:25:35] And so I had a really tight, core audience there that was all over the US and naturallycurly.com is where we started and that was where we are first advertising that our first banner ad was seven hundred thirty-three dollars, like your banner ad, a natural growth dot com. And that was a lot.


Chris Snyder [00:25:54] Yeah, that's amazing. So. So as I play the tape back, we've got three kids, right. We've got a full-time pharmaceutical job, which is a full-time job, and you've got the CURLS business. How many people are working at CURLS now? How long did it take from you doing all this? Really hard, scrappy, grinding. Don't give up work until your first employee or until you felt like, OK, I got to quit my job and I got to do this a hundred percent. I got to do this and take the chance and do it well.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:26:28] The first I will say three and a half years my husband and I well two and a half years my husband, I did all the pick packs shipping. And then about year three, we brought in a person to work and we converted the garage, one part of the garage with a three-car garage back then. And so the converted that one car garage into a storage area and shelves were all the product. And it was a table and computer desk and a packing station over there. So Paul was our first employee and he came in and he would pack after school every day. He went to college at California State University. He would come there and pack. And that was probably the worst thing ever because it was like a sweatshop so hot in California. So he was so, so dedicated. And then we saw this increase this boom, and all of a sudden we needed more people like happened like that. And all of his friends were there. So we had all of Paul's friends. And so by year four, we were like, okay, let's go from the warehouse office. I mean, to the from the garage to a warehouse. And it was about year four. We got our first small warehouse, an office, and hire more people. Yes, I was about your four.


Chris Snyder [00:27:38] So by year four, you're probably a two or three hundred thousand dollar your business, right?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:27:44] I mean, no, actually the first year we make $86k the first year. Second year, $192k. Year three, $366k. By year four it was $582k.


Chris Snyder [00:27:55] Wow. Wow. So OK, so you didn't need to go raise capital to fund any of the further operations. You could fund this yourselves. Right. Right. Yeah. This has been bootstrapped, self-funded the whole time. Yes. It's amazing. That's amazing. So you've. So this all starts to happen. When did you guys really think about expanding into what it is today, which is so by your for your let's call it six hundred thousand or whatever it is, but you are a multi-million dollar business now, right? How long has CURLs been around?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:28:32] So last month was our 18th birthday.


Chris Snyder [00:28:36] Wow. So overnight success.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:28:40] No.


Chris Snyder [00:28:41] Yeah. Completely sarcastic. This is what I want people to understand, though, by making that comment. People don't grind long enough for hard enough. They don't sit at the table long enough and give themselves a chance to make it work. Right. And that's why you have to be on a problem that generally has a market that can support what you need to have. Right. Maybe some people don't need to have as much as you have, but you need to have something to pay your bills and have something to work on. But the second part is you have to be passionate enough to not give up after, you know, ten years of probably not doing as well as you would like to.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:29:20] Right. Yes. And all the no's and all the challenges and all the rejection, of course. And so, you know, it took us to like, what was it? You're six or seven when Target called for us to come in and meet because they're the buyer. Then Linda Sullivan, who I credit to this day for my start, was looking to revamp her category. She saw that herself from relaxers and all the other ethnic products were down. And so she went to give a fresh new approach to the way she bought. And so she bought me and three other brands in. And we were the original four that launched this category. And Target and all the other retailers that I pitched in said no. Many, many times now we're calling me because we're on an end cap at Target and we grew from 100 to five stores test and in five stores end cap test to 300, then 600, then 900, then over and then after that nationwide. And everyone else took notice after.


Chris Snyder [00:30:14] Tell tell our audience a little bit about how it feels to wake up every single day and feel like you're getting hit in the head with a two by four. Make that call. No. Make that call. No. How does it feel? First of all, describe how that feels to - I mean, obviously, you're making progress, but maybe it's not fast enough and it. Does it feel shitty? It really does. But maybe I can describe in your own words how it feels to grind on this. And then what does it take? What does it take to get to that next level?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:30:47] Yeah, well, a lot of perseverance, a lot of grit. Grit is the word I use. It takes grit because you have to have thick skin and know and believe in you and your product enough.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:30:59] To say, just because I got a 'no' doesn't mean it's never - that's 'not today.' And does it mean that my product's not good enough or that I'm not good enough? It means that they don't see the value YET. So continue to push through it. You have to have thick skin. That's why I see a lot of wimpy entrepreneurs who don't like - they think, oh, I'm supposed to make it overnight. That's not reality. Now, some people may have that Kardashian opportunity to have a sister with a sex tape to get you to the top of the makeup industry. That's not the norm. Or people who have had success overnight. I've seen some people on Instagram that are influencers and, you know, garner all this money after promoting their brands. That's not normal. So keep out of your head and realize that I have to grind at the asset rejection and see how to improve from it. Make those changes, but keep going past the no's.


Chris Snyder [00:31:48] Yeah. So don't take it personally. I mean, I tell people all the time when they tell you, no, they're not really insulting you personally. Maybe you haven't done a good job describing what you're trying to do. Maybe your problem isn't big enough for them. Maybe it's the wrong timing. Maybe. Like, they don't care about Chris personally or they don't care about the young founder or entrepreneur personally. You just got to knock on a lot of doors. It's almost like a numbers game.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:32:13] Mean a lot of times, though, with these buyers, they're looking to say no before they say yes. They're bombarded and pitched all the time. And it has to make sense and you have to know what they're looking for. So you almost have to have it on track. You know, insider track and to what they're looking for to get in. You know, it's really hard because they are pitched every day. So they're looking for a reason to say no.


Chris Snyder [00:32:34] Yeah. So you're really well established now. Eighteen years of this. I'm sure the business continues to grow incrementally. What are some of the things that you'd mentioned social media in the beginning of this? What are some of the things that you feel like have changed since you started the business that you really leaned in on that have helped you grow faster or helped you grow more effectively or efficiently?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:33:00] One thing that definitely helped me grow faster was really and this is not a new concept, but really it was changing my team and having the right people on my team. I've had the opposite before and back and pull you backward and could be so detrimental to your business. So not realizing when you have weak links and. To them and make sure you have people that can take you further that no more than you. Everyone on my team now I have people there educating me versus the opposite, you know, opposite ends. And I wanted to make sure that I keep it that way because otherwise I am unable. You're not able to grow your business and do what you're supposed to as an entrepreneur and the owner. You have to grow the business and be creative to figure out what the next steps are strategic to figure out what your plans are. If you're constantly having to teach everyone everything and versus them feeding to you, then you're not able to do that. So having the right team was critical to propel me forward and make that leap, because, you know, it's hard to get from of the starting up to the first million and the first minted five million from five to 10. And next step from ten to twenty. Those different leaps are hard to get to and you need the right team to do so.


Chris Snyder [00:34:08] Yeah, I agree. 100 percent. Has, you know, they call it the oligopoly - the Amazon, Facebook, and Google crowd, which, you know, I think 85% of all ad dollars are spent on those platforms. Yeah. Does your firm spend money there? Do they have success there?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:34:27] Totally, totally, yes. Absolutely. I mean, who is it? Oh, you should be if you aren't. Yeah, definitely. It's certainly beneficial for a brand like yours.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:34:35] I can also see, you know, Instagram and Pinterest because it's such a personal look and feel kind of thing. I can imagine there's a lot of success on those plow Instagram.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:34:45] Yes. And the Facebook ads, the Google ads, all those social ads for sure. They're important, specially now during COVID. People are looking for material. They're looking for it.


Chris Snyder [00:34:55] So let's talk about COVID. What impact has I mean, I suspect it's been positive because people are thinking about themselves even more. They have more time now, but. Right. You can describe for us what's going on with your business and COVID What are some of the things that you've seen positive maybe come out of this for you guys and then maybe some of the things you're like? Well, this was not helpful.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:35:18] Well, I think it's all been pretty positive for us. Minus the personal experiences - we've had, some of our employees that were exposed. Now we're everyone's test and they're negative. But there were a few scares. So that was kind of nerve-wracking. But we saw a triple increase in sales online, CURLS.biz, and also our key partners like Target, because they're essential stores, Wal-Mart and CVS. Three of our top providers and partners had seen an increase in their sales. Therefore, they needed more for me. And our website is also seen an increase in sales. So it's been overall very, very busy, very busy. And we had our anniversary months. So we're able to really just grow during COVID, but we're also able to give back. We were donating to four front liners masks and gloves and we're still doing that. We were able to get access to them, so we started to ship them, import them in, and donate as needed.


Chris Snyder [00:36:17] Wow. That's a great thing to do for the community. And obviously you've worked really hard as your own company. It's hard-earned money and you're taking that out of profit to give back.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:36:28] And yeah, we were we started that because New York was really under you know, they were so inundated with so many cases, but they didn't have enough PPE because the state and this country didn't have enough available. So as we started to import them in and I created another site to help civilians get masks without being price gouged, which is happening quite a bit. So I formed rapidmedsupplies.com to ship within 24 hours at a reasonable price. And as I did that, I was like, well, we have all of these products. Let's help. Let's be a blessing as we're helping civilians. It's also - be a blessing. And that's part of my DNA.


Chris Snyder [00:37:06] Rapidmedsupplies.com. Yeah, we'll put that in the show notes for sure. I think everyone is that is a very nice gesture. And by the way, the right thing to do for those that have. And they can. They should do. Right. Yes. Yes. So let's talk about - now you have four kids. Yes. Bang in business. What was the reason for jumping into Mind Your Business on the OWN Network? Are you - did you feel like is this another give -thing for you?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:37:44] Yeah, It was great. It was - Oprah wanted to give back to the community she saw. And this is a real statistic that African-American female-based businesses are up were up, I think 300 percent, but only four percent see the billion-dollar mark. So there's a huge gap to bridge. Women are creating businesses, but they don't have the tools, the resources, the information to actually get to that level of success that I have a cheat. So she was looking for someone that can come in and help select businesses get just to that point. And that was the whole foundation of it. And it was phenomenal. We really helped those women. It was just great. Now, eight women, eight different businesses, seven of them, lesson learned and achieve success. One was a hard head and just did not want to receive it. So you can't you can only lead them to what you can't make them drink. But it was overall successful because people today are still talking about it, reading and watching the reruns that the tools and the tips and everything that we went through and showed and helped really still helps people that weren't even on the show. So I was really happy to be a part of that. That was a great expanse for me.


Chris Snyder [00:38:55] Have you ever done anything like that before? I mean, you get invited to do this. You're a successful person, but you're a successful person, not necessarily on television. Right. And this is Oprah. Right. This is a big deal. And now you're on television with your own show. Was that harder? Tell us a little bit about the show.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:39:15] Well, the hard part was being away from home because it took five days to tape one episode. Got it. So being on my Friday for one episode, that was really hard. That was the hardest part, managing and just keeping abreast of my business. I have a great team, but it was still things I need to be involved with. So that was a sacrifice. But other than that, I mean, it was a labor of love. And I'm still in touch with all of those seven of those ladies because they all have gone on to do very well.


Chris Snyder [00:39:41] Yeah, that's again giving back. So where do you see CURLS going? I mean, I'm sure you guys, you know, it sounds like you're doing well. Where do you see the business going? You've spent 18 years building this business. Is this a legacy brand? Is this something you give your children? Where does CURLS go from here?


Mahisha Dellinger [00:40:01] Well, we definitely are looking to pass this on. My baby, the eight-year-old said I'm going to be the one to take over the business mommy. I'm like, OK. So I foresee it as being definitely a legacy opportunity to evolve and grow into more beyond just hair care. We probably will grow this brand to other areas of business. I mean, beauty entered the beauty category. We get lots of requests for skincare and which makes sense. You know, we can explore that area, Lospalos for makeup. So there are different areas that we can expand into. And so we're looking into that, actually.


Chris Snyder [00:40:34] Yeah, there is a lot of room for expansion. It seems like. So one of the things I'd like to leave our audience with because you've got a lot of experience, you've got a great story. I'd like to leave our audience with something that you believe they should listen to, one or two things that say, look, if you're an entrepreneur or you're a founder or you're an executive or you're even someone looking to move in that direction, what is your advice for them? It doesn't have to be Koven 19 related, but I mean, whatever you think, that would help them as entrepreneurs.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:41:10] A few things. And I give this advice to everyone I speak to as a mentee. The first thing I always suggest is to make sure you have a solid plan in place. Every I would say out of eight businesses that I actually mentor all my shows, seven of them did not have a marketing plan or business plan. And how do you know where you're going if you don't have a plan? Failing to plan is planning to fail. So that's rule number one. I always suggest that if you don't have access to if you don't go to school as a business major or know how to create a plan, there's a resource that I love to always recommend score.org like score goal that. Org. They have free mentors in your industry. They will give you. They actually free classes from business marketing plans, quick books, anything you need to do to help you with your business. So definitely the resources you need from score dot org. Definitely do the planning that you need. Business writing plan and marketing plan. And then also make sure before you get going that you do your due diligence and research your market inside and out. Understand your competitors. What pricing? You should start at it and make sure that you have enough profit margin built to make sure that you know what you what your market looks like and how you get a market to them. Just do your due diligence overall before you go ahead and put that foot forward into that pond because. 80 percent will not make it to see the year five of their business, so make sure you do everything you can do to make sure you're part of that 20 percent.


Chris Snyder [00:42:39] That planning process is supercritical. And I tell people that all the time. Like if we can't put a plan in front of you that lets you know, I use the analogy. If you're going to go from L.A. to New York, you don't just wake up one morning, get your shoes on and go to the airport. There's a lot of steps in between there. And if you have not even taken the time to build a quick plan, it is unlikely you'll be able to execute anything.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:43:05] Right. It'll be luck if you win. Right. Exactly. Pure luck. So that's my biggest piece of advice as I see it all the time.


Chris Snyder [00:43:13] Failure to plan is planning to fail. I love it so much. Mahisha Dellinger is the CEO and founder of CURLS. Mahisha, you've given us a few URLs - can you repeat a couple of those for our audience so they know where to find you and your stuff? Masks..


Mahisha Dellinger [00:43:32] Sure. So if you are looking for our reasonably priced PPE, then go to rapidmedsupplies.com. If you're looking for resources as an entrepreneur for classes and anything, you need - mentors or any preparation, need to help you as an entrepreneur: Score.org. And then you can follow us on Instagram and Facebook CURLS.


Chris Snyder [00:43:56] CURLS. I love it. Mahisha was so great to have you today. Thanks for thankful for your words of encouragement. We'll see you around.


Mahisha Dellinger [00:44:03] Thank you so much.

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