Updated: Aug 23, 2021
On today’s episode I’m chatting with Julissa Prado, the founder of Rizos Curls.
Founded in October 2017, Rizos Curls is a clean hair care brand creating products that embrace and celebrate the beauty of curls, coils & waves everywhere. In just under three years, Rizos Curls has amassed a global following of more than 300,000 followers on social media and ships to over 57 countries.
We chat about the origins of Julissa’s business, creating her own potions and formulas for hair to give to women and girls since she was in the 9th grade, and how she took her $80,000 of savings since she was a little girl and went all in to develop hundreds of samples over 4 years before finally landing on her best selling products that we see today.
We also talk through the importance of small business owners standing up and shouting loudly to get noticed - the key thing to remember here is that everything is negotiable - but you’ll get to that in the episode. There’s so much love and energy and emotion throughout this talk - lots of lols and even some tears. I could speak to Julissa for literally ever and ever and I came away feeling so grateful to have met her and to hear this incredible and deeply personal story.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Speaker2: My name is Julissa Prado. I'm founder and CEO of Rizos Curls Hair Care Line, and we create hair products for people with wavy, curly or curly hair textures.
Speaker1: Amazing. I know from reading about you that your story has so much love and soul in its origins. Could you take us back to where it all began?
Speaker2: Yes. So I've been pretty much doing hair and been attracted to hair ever since I was a teenager, I never did it professionally, but I grew up with a really big family in Los Angeles. And inevitably, by having over 60, 70 first cousins just in L.A., I had a lot of clientele. And so starting in ninth grade, I remember as a ninth grader, I was like any homecoming or prom season. I was booked up like seniors would literally book me to style their hair. So I was always very attracted to hair. I was always good at it. I've always said, like, I have the hands for it. And during that time, too, I wanted to start wearing my hair natural because back then I was straightening and straightening it all the time. And it was very normal to me to like turn to the earth and turn to natural ingredients to care for my skin, my scalp, my hair. And it was all for my own grandmother's teachings. So I just started making my own concoctions in my skull, had something going on with it. I could cut some aloe vera plant if my hair was feeling like I needed more holes, get some flaxseed oil like it was something very normal. So I had my own concoctions and styling natural became just like another of the options that I had when doing hair on the side while in high school.
Speaker1: Oh my God, that's amazing. When you were doing hair for these women, did you actually think like, oh, I want to turn this into a business in terms of a hair salon? Or did you think, oh, I want to turn these concoctions into a business or didn't even cross your radar at that point?
Speaker2: So what's crazy is that I never thought I would ever be a hair stylist. I never thought as that has a potential job, I didn't even cross my mind that I would ever even go in that direction. I went to UCLA for undergrad and then I got my masters in business and I was like always very much in the corporate world. And at the time back then, I wanted to be a lawyer. Like that's what I wanted to do at that time. So hair was just kind of like a fun little side hobby that I would do. But I never even thought I could turn into anything business for me. But I was a big saver, and I knew ever since I started working when I was around 14 years old. But at 15, I remember saving half my money starting since then. And I would put it away for either like a business or just in general. I did want to make it out of convenience. I knew that I wanted to make my products professionally, but for myself, like I didn't really think of it as a business person. But I would save my money because I was like, I want to make it so inconvenient for me to carry this around in Ziploc bags, to have to refrigerate this to like it goes bad after a little while. Like this is very inconvenient. I'm going to say start saving my money. So it's just crazy how I kind of didn't know what I was doing, but I was like making the correct decisions to start being able to eventually self invest.
Speaker1: And I think it's also so crazy that, like, you hadn't recognized the idea yet that you could start a business and view yourself as an entrepreneur. You were doing all these things and doing taking these steps. But it hadn't clicked and fallen into place yet.
Speaker2: Not at all. Like I've always said, it's hard to become what you don't see. And for me, like I remember not even knowing what college was like, I never had met anybody that had gone to college. I never knew a university was. I literally learned English in third grade. Like my parents. They're both from Mexico. My dad crawl through a sewer when he was a teenager to get to this country who worked in the fields picking oranges, like, you know what I mean? Like they never went to school at all. They barely know how to read and write. So I think where I started, it was just very different life then, you know, then this entrepreneur life that I now have. But back then it was I remember like the first time I ever met somebody that went to college and they were studying or going to college to become a lawyer. And then that's why I wanted to be a lawyer, because it was like my second cousin. She was like from our neighborhood, too. And then she wanted to be a lawyer. And I was like, oh, you're my idol. Like, that's what I want to do. So, yeah, that's kind of how it went.
Speaker1: Oh, my gosh, what a story. That's wild. So you go to school, you graduate, you're in the corporate world. When does the aha moment happen where you think, oh, hang on, I'm actually going to start formulating my products and using my savings, how much savings did you have, by the way, before we start that?
Speaker2: In total, it was close to 80 thousand dollars by the time I like and did because I was able to get like I got scholarships in undergrad for grad school. I applied to a fellowship and PepsiCo I was a PepsiCo fellow. So they gave me like this like really dope scholarship. And I worked for PepsiCo while in grad school. Ever since I turned 15, I've been working and I would always save my money. So I didn't have that many expenses because I was able to save my money. And luckily I didn't have to help my parents with their expenses. So it was just savings for me.
Speaker1: Savings for you. Right. OK, so you've got the eighty thousand in the bank. When is the aha moment that you think I'm going to take that eighty thousand and I'm going to spend it on my formula.
Speaker2: Yeah. So all throughout high school and grad school and all this time that I'm in this amazing by this time I'm already in grad school working for PepsiCo and then I'm going to go work for Nespoli. And this whole time I've never stopped doing hair like so many of my best friends. I met them in grad school. I'm at the elevator and I see this girl and I would call them Undercover Curley's women that you would never know that have curly hair. They would be like, how do you get your hair like that? And I'm like, meet me in the bathroom in an hour. I'll help you and I'll bring all my concoctions and do their hair. And then I would teach them and they would see their hair for the first time. I would have world dorm sessions. I would hold like I was always known for that. And the amount of women that I met throughout high school, college and even in the workforce and grad school, that I styled their hair and helped them, taught them about their own hair. And they saw natural for the first time was like hundreds of them.
Speaker1: You were building your tribe.
Speaker2: Yeah. So by the time once I decided, you know what, I want to make these professional, I still didn't think that it was going to be enough for me to leave my corporate job. But I just thought it's very inconvenient. Like every time I'm helping these people, which I'm doing it all the time, like it would be easier if I didn't have to write down all these instructions and like it was more of a convenience thing. And I thought, you know what, this is a big risk. But like worse comes to worse. I have a lifetime supply of hair care products for me and my huge family. Like, again, just on my dad's side in L.A. I have like over sixty first cousins in total. I probably have over one hundred, like, it's crazy. So, yeah, that's when I decided to make it professional and it took me four years and I worked with multiple different chemists before I was able to land the formula that I really wanted. And I think the reason why when I did launch it did so good is because it actually works. It's because I spent those four years. I know exactly what I was looking for. I had been working with so many different scalps, so many different hair textures, so many different ingredients, like I had been doing all of that work of like testing out and understanding what is going to work in what environments and what climates, what hair types, etc.. So I was very, very focused and knew exactly what I wanted. And no chemist, no big fancy lab could sway me in a different direction. Like I remember the first lab that we went with I was trying to go with. They were like very fancy, big time. And then they kept telling me, like, this is how you should do this. And I was like me, like, no experience on this little like twenty one year old girl like this is going to work, you know, like, who am I?
Speaker1: But but you stuck to your guns. So in that four years that it took for you to get to the formula. So are we talking like you launched in twenty seventeen. So yes, twenty thirteen. You start this process of formula. Why did it take four years. Is it also because you were still working full time so you were moving at it slower, or was it because you had to kind of like restart again with new manufacturers along the way?
Speaker2: I had to restart again, so I went through a ton of different comments, too. And that was a moment transitioning especially from like the first two years of trying over and over with. One lab was like so much money that I invested because each sample is five hundred dollars. Like, that's a lot of money of two year round and round. The samples that take like I give comments, it takes a few months to come back. I'm like redoing this. It takes a long time and a lot of money was invested. And I remember at that moment that I. Couldn't get her right with the multiple cameras in that first lab that I had already put so much money into, I was like, maybe it's impossible. Maybe I'm not going to find what I'm looking for here. But I was very glad that I didn't settle because I could have easily settled the first time around. And I guess this is good enough, but I didn't do that. And I took like three months off between the two manufacturers before I kind of like regrouped again and really went for it to start all over again from the beginning.
Speaker1: Oh, my gosh.
Speaker2: But I'm glad I did, because eventually I did land the formula that I loved and wanted.
Speaker1: You made the magic. It sounds like. Yeah. How many samples do you think you made in that four year process?
Speaker2: Oh, my God. Like hundreds. Like a hundred. Like, I don't even. It was just so many. And so the way that it works, I mean, I don't know how it works in other industries, but at least most of the time with pretty the standard with hair care is you get like depending on the contract that you have, either get two or three versions of that one sample and each time it's five dollars. So, yeah,
Speaker1: It's expensive, it's really expensive. It's going to take a lot of money. Holy moly. OK, yeah. So you move manufacturer's, you find the magic. They're on board with what you're doing, you're happy, you're like OK, I'm going to place an order. What was the minimum orders like for you at that time and what happens next.
Speaker2: Yeah. So there's so many. It's crazy because. I feel so blessed and so lucky that I got in the industry at the time that I did too, because now that I'm in it and after covid and all the different things, the manufacturers now have such high minimums that had I try to start now, there's no way I would have been able to afford those minimums. Now it's like at least ten thousand minimum per SKU. Before there was maybe like five thousand. And I was able to convince my manufacturer to bring it down to fifteen hundred per SKU, which for me was a lot, and that's so much money. But I was really lucky in that it was like a really great time for the industry where there wasn't like supply issues. There wasn't like crazy competition in that. And I think that because of that, these labs were more willing to risk bringing on board this little girl that had not a company. She has no customers, no guarantee. It's like it's not usually would it be worth their time. And I think that had I try to do that now what like I don't know how I would have been able to get my foot in the door because I can't afford their minimum.
Speaker1: Right. Someone on the show the other day, a woman by the name of Xenia Chen, and she has a company called Thread's, she was saying and one of her key takeaways from the lesson was everything is negotiable. Everything is negotiable. And so what I'm wondering is, how did you actually negotiate from five thousand down to fifteen hundred? Because that sounds bloody amazing.
Speaker2: Yeah. So I don't know. Let me just put that out there and we have the gift. And I was born with a Pisces gift of being able to relate and being able to really connect with other humans and being able to like have a really strong sense of like empathy and how others empathize with myself as well. And I don't know, we just like get people and they get us for some reason. And so many of these people that I was meeting along the way, they would literally tell me, like, I've never done this before, but like I believe in you. I believe your story. I want to support you. Like, I would never lower my minimums like this, but like I believe in you, like I want to support you. I see your passion and that. And I like, you know, because I was like, literally girl, like, OK, I know I don't have anything right now and I don't want to do that, but like, my formulas are going to be so good and I know what I'm looking for and I know I don't have any customers right now. But like, trust me, I know they're there. And to do it, you know, it's like selling myself with nothing. You know, I'm like, I can make a really dope PowerPoint deck, pretty colors, but I don't have any data. I don't have anything to support it other than the fact that I have I'm a hard worker with a lot of heart and they're like, girl, I don't know. But it worked out. And I was really lucky that people were put in my path that we're willing to take a risk on me.
Speaker1: And I think as well, you had true conviction. You just knew. You knew and maybe you didn't have the data. But you actually, if you think about it, you did have the data because you had these women who you had been working with since you're in grade nine. They actually did have the data. Yeah, it just came in a different way than versus like numbers on the spreadsheet.
Speaker2: Yeah. So I grew up in predominantly Latino neighborhoods my whole life. And what I was telling them, I'm like, you guys don't understand. Like the natural hair movement has missed so much of the Latino community because of the language barriers. I'm like all of my things, all of my cousins, like everywhere that you're in here, no one knows the slightest bit of information about textured hair. All they know is our straight hair. I'm like every hair stylist that I meet. All they teach them in cosmetology school is how to straighten hair. When it comes to check your hair. They don't teach them how to treat a real scalp. The ingredients that you need to use, they're using chemicals, are using silicones, are using sulphates. They're using all of these ingredients that are working against all of these women's natural hair texture. And I'm like, I'm going to the store. And there's nothing out there for me, for us, for my community, for every single woman that I see out there, there's nothing that is helping their hair be beautiful today and also good for the long term health of our scalp and hair. And I was telling them, like Latinos, we care especially we care about natural we care about quality ingredients, like we care about organic because it's part of our culture.
Speaker2: But society and all of these stores that we go into, it's all like super GMO. It's all super. Cheap, like harsh chemicals, like all these things, but I'm telling you, like, one thing that I know is my culture, my community, my people, and I know what they want and I know what the market is lacking from. And that's one thing that I tell everyone that wants to go into an industry that they are unfamiliar with or they feel like it's too saturated or they feel like they are the super underdog. What I tell them is you don't just create a business, you create a solution to a problem. And if you have the solution to a problem and you're looking around and there's all these people that also need that solution, like, you know, more than you can make up in creativity, in your knowledge, what other companies will need millions of dollars to do the market research and need for marketing dollars. That is knowledge that is unmeasurable. And if you have that, the world is going to help you get that solution out to people.
Speaker1: It's like your own in a like internal secret sauce or something.
Speaker2: Yeah, for sure.
Speaker1: Ok, I want to talk about the launch. You've got your ammo Q's back. You have got the magic in your hands. How do you launch and what's it like? What happens?
Speaker2: Yes. So I was also in a very interesting time that later on I realized how much it played into it. But it was right before, like the political era of the time, especially United States, it was a really weird political climate where it was like very anti Latino and it was, oh, my gosh, so much hate crime. This and not like so I saw a switch like, oh, huge switch even. And just noticing my mom how she would answer the phone that time versus after. So for example, somebody would call her in English to like, I don't know, sell her something before she would be like so sorry, so sorry. No English, no English. I'm so sorry. She's like very apologetic, like oh those are oh, during that time after like when all the anti Latinos that were going on, she was answering it like no Spanish, no money. You want my money, you call me Spanish Glik. I'm like, oh OK Mom owning it. Oh so that's what we're doing. OK, so it was a time where I feel like I saw Latinos, especially everybody. It seemed like every culture wanted to unapologetically be their culture and they wanted to own it and they wanted to wear it on their sleeve because they were like, I don't want you to confuse to feel comfortable being racist around me. I don't want you to feel comfortable like putting down my culture.
Speaker2: I want you to see how beautiful and how successful and how well-spoken I can be and be part of this culture or whatever. So it was a really interesting time that it was like the communities in general were realizing their power and they were realizing how much money is not just a transaction. Money is a transaction of power. And I feel like we were in a time where people were saying, I don't want to just give power to people and companies that are going to mishandle it, that are going to use that power to misrepresent my community, to attack my community, to put people in power that. You are going to create policies and things that are putting down the people around me, so. In came the rise of all these different, like small businesses that was like seeing pop up and I was one of them and like really all I did was I turned on my Facebook page, I made an Instagram page. And mind you, at this point, I have zero marketing dollars because I've already spent all of my money towards buying all of this inventory, buying all of these labels and bottles and put it on like all of these things. I went into it and I don't have any money. I mean, I have my own income. I'm still working at Nespoli, but I don't have marketing money.
Speaker2: So I just made an Instagram page for the business. I made some videos on my phone and I just upload it. And I have made the website myself on Shopify. The models were me and my cousins. The photographer was my brother. The drawing on the bottle, my cousin Drew. That's a super family. I think it was like, all right, so you know how to draw great drawing, how to cover your hair. All right. One of my cousins that his picture ended up being like the featured picture in an EL feature that they did for us. He had never used a camera before and is like, OK, I borrowed a camera and I handed it to my cousin Ed and was like, Ed, you know what? You have a good eye. You look like you could be a photographer. Come to the first picture photo. We literally ended up in Elle magazine. It's crazy. That is crazy. Yeah. So I was just like utilizing my friends and family and I would make these little videos and whatever. And I posted it on there. And I remember the very, very first day that I opened my website and I posted my little videos and I announced it. It was. Oh, my God. Like, even just thinking about it right now gives me, like, he's going to cry because.
Speaker1: It's profound.
Speaker2: Wow, wow.
Speaker1: Agnes, I'm loving this. Don't be sorry, I love it.
Speaker2: Ok, OK, sorry. So, yeah, so pretty much the first thing that I learned, it was outpour of support of just.
Speaker1: Got. All the love you got, all the love.
Speaker2: Yeah, I know, so pretty much like all those women that I had been helping for so long. Little did I know they would all become my first customers. So it was just really beautiful and full circle moment when. I am sorry. Don't be
Speaker1: Sorry. I love this
Speaker2: Guy. Why did God made me so emotional, so annoying? I had I had a good streak like before in the beginning, any time I did, like interviews or whatever, I would like start getting teary eyed. And I had a whole year where I was like, I'm not doing anymore. I would look in the mirror like I'm doing this. So I had a whole year what I had. And yet one year and then over here, Leo comes that. Or do you ask me one question?
Speaker1: Honestly, I can get teary, like, really easy myself. So you never know. You might make me cry of, you
Speaker2: Know, not doing it might
Speaker1: Come to the computer.
Speaker2: So, yeah, pretty much they all became my first customers. I didn't realize that I was pretty much, like you said, building all of the supporters like building my trust in the community. So it was really nice when I launched and pretty much most of the customers I was receiving so many testimonials. And in the comments I was like, when you purchase on Shopify lets you leave a comment in the notes. And there was messages like, I don't know if you remember this, but in 2012 I ran into you at the student conference and you did my hair in the bathroom. And I've been wearing Metronatural ever since then. So of course, the products.
Speaker1: Oh my God. Wow.
Speaker2: Yeah, I'm crazy. So I think the very first day we had over like one hundred orders. Which is crazy, it's crazy, crazy, crazy. Yeah, and oh, so then they got it fulfilled. And I'm still working full time, I have a
Speaker2: Honestly, I have a full time job. So I was really lucky in that. That could have been a moment where I lost it. Like I the business just puts it you have all these orders, like, how are you going to fulfill so many at one time? I don't even have all the supplies. I think I had enough supplies for like 20 orders. Like, I didn't think that I had like 20 boxes. I had like 20 tissue papers. Like, I did not expect to have more than, like, ten orders, OK? So I called all the calling all these different places. Where am I going to get these more boxes? I found a place called Paper Mart that they did overnight delivery. And what I did have is a bunch of cousins. I have a huge family and a bunch of cousins that I got the time I was living in Midcity where all of my family lived. So I just drove down Washington Boulevard, picked up all my cousins on Redondo, one rent, two cousins on Vinyasa, other cousins on Crenshaw, another cousin. So I just picked up all my cousins and was like, let's get to where they're just like teenagers all. They'll literally do all this work for like hot Cheetos and like, oh, so it works out. So that was us going hard. My mom, like all of my family, was like, can we just help you? Like, there's just so much support and the most amazing loving. I cannot stress enough how much of a family effort my business and my whole life has been, so I'm just really lucky.
Speaker1: That is so amazing. Gosh, how beautiful. I love that for you. Hey, it's down here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the show, you'll hear women who would just like you trying to figure it all out and hustle to grow that business. And I know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now? You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned Facebook and Instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing mix from today onwards. I'm really excited to be able to offer our FESSEY small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, who you might also remember from our DIY course. Full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business. And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness firsthand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as ten thousand dollars a month, all the way to three hundred thousand dollars a month and in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started. Go to Female Startup Club dot com fogie adds That's female startup club dot com forward. Slash a D. S and booking a call today. So at what point do you quit your job? At what point do you think, OK, like there's something here for me to do and I can't keep managing both. What are the next steps?
Speaker2: Young. So I quit my job within the first year, so it was November twenty seventeen that I quit my job. Granted, I was really lucky in that I had been able to start working from home during that time. So I was like really trying and hoping to balance both. The moment that I felt like I had no choice was when I had to do like a work trip and I was going to have to be gone for a week. And they know I have like literally have like all these little teenagers and my orders and these things. And by this time we moved into my old ones garage. So I was really lucky within a week. I was like, I can't support this in my apartment, like this is not going to work out. So my uncle that lives down the street from where I was living off Washington, Crenshaw, he's like, why have a garage come over? Like, you know, use my garage? And I just have that feeling. When I saw the garage, I'm like, I did it. I made it this big time. Look how much space garage is like, which is a Larry King bag of like how impressed I was by that garage and how quickly grew out of it. Oh, my God. But I was like I did it like, are you kidding me? Like, I, I've been reviewed. I was right.
Speaker1: I have got this garage. My business is here. I have intense people working for me that is so low.
Speaker2: Yeah. You got nothing. Nothing.
Speaker1: How much revenue had you done in that year, like up until November. Twenty. Seventeen. What was the kind of numbers that you were looking at.
Speaker2: So I'd only been officially launched like a two month literally. Like it was very I think I had I had opened up the social media pages earlier on, but like full on website and fully going. It wasn't until October. So I was not even two months in and I was doing really good, like within the first full year of actually doing business, of being open. We made like a million dollars in sales. What?
Speaker1: Ok, so that was a real serious move into the garage
Speaker2: While the garage we moved into the garage within the first month, so I had no idea that it was going to grow to that. And, you know, I didn't know, like all I was going to eventually if I keep going for 12 more months, I'm going to make a million in sales. I didn't think that was the case. But, yeah, the garage was like within the month and everything was just moving so fast. I was really lucky to go.
Speaker1: Have had you set yourself any goals, like personally of what you thought you were going to do, what you kind of hoped you were going to do in terms of revenue?
Speaker2: Yeah, like already, which is crazy, I've surpassed every goal I ever have for myself in life, I'm like, girl, what? Like, how do you think you went to college, that you graduated high school, like you went to grad school, you you started a business. And it's like you're not just selling out of your trunk, like you have customers and they're like, you know, they're like anything more on top of this? I'm like, God. So I'm already like surpassed my biggest imagination of where this could go. But I'm also very competitive and I also wanted to grow and continue. For me, it was more of like the why behind. It wasn't necessarily like I want to make a bunch of money. It was. Every time these women are trying this product, they're sending me these testimonials like I've never seen my hair curly. This is my first time seeing it natural. I feel so much more confident. We had this one lady friend. Is this whole thing like wearing my hair natural for the first time gave me so much confidence. I even decided to leave my abusive husband, blah, blah, blah. Wow. I was getting the craziest testimonials and I was seeing that because for me too, I feel like learning to love my hair and learning to love myself and my natural state was a big part of learning to love me like self-love. And I was really lucky that I was able to go through that process in high school. But what I didn't realize was how many women especially were in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. And we're still in that process of self acceptance and self love. And I learned so quickly how hair is so much deeper than just hair for so many people. And it was like every time I would read these testimonials, I was like getting goosebumps and like I would be like reading it, crying and really into it. So, yeah, it was just like a really, really crazy experience.
Speaker1: Wow. That's a crazy year. A million dollars in revenue is a lot because obviously word of mouth is something that would have been key in building that. But what else was driving that growth like? How do you actually make a million dollars worth of sales in a year in your first year, rather?
Speaker2: Yeah, it wasn't like the year from like November, October. But it was funny because like when I first got asked this question, I was like cheese motza culture, anybody Latino that I say small subculture to what they're going to be like, which is most that means almost like gossip, like spreading gossip or something. And in our culture, we always say, like, oh, you're gismos like love the tea, you love to hear what's happening. And there's like a running joke about if you live in predominately neighborhood, it's like you don't need security cameras. You have your neighbors and it's like everyone's like nosy looking at what's happening. And what I would joke around and say lovingly is like she's like culture like this part of the Latino culture of like when you have something that you love, you don't keep it for yourself. You tell your grandma, your mom, your Uber driver, the lady at the grocery store. You tell everybody when I tell you there were women that have never met me before in their life. They were in Puerto Rico. They were in New York, they were in Florida. Never met me before in their life. They were like going on Facebook, writing long testimonials in Spanish. Like this young lady right here reminds me of my own daughter. I use our products and look at my hair. If you believe in me and you are my family, you will support this young lady, literally.
Speaker1: Oh, my goodness. Wow.
Speaker2: It was like every time I would read it, I would get emotional. But then I would like to think it was just so crazy. And I think that God again, there we go. There, you know, passing through, saw. I feel like me and my story. Mind you, I've done a lot of broadcast interviews, I don't understand why this was just so I feel like you're really in front of me.
Speaker1: I am really in front of you.
Speaker2: I feel like I could feel your energy like I'm like, no, that's OK. Although yeah, so I feel like my story and me represented so much more. To people then I realized,
Speaker1: Like they had a piece of you in them and they were like, that's me, that's my auntie, that's my mom, that's she's doing it for all of us. Yeah. And also, I think that sense of like she gets us, she truly understands what I go through on this deeply personal, intimate thing, which, you know, here gives you confidence. It's part of your identity. All these things, every woman was being like, you feel me?
Speaker2: Yeah, totally. And so I think for me at that moment, like it was very apparent that with great gifts, with great talent, with great things, like comes big responsibility. And I think that that moment was what I realized, like, what am I going to do with this power that they're giving me? What am I going to do with every time they're giving me their dollars? That's power. So they're allowing me to grow, allowing me to have. A platform allowing me to have everything I do have. So what to do with that? So with that said, from the very beginning, like I've always said, those girls, my little personal mission statement is cross community culture. And so every step of the way, the way that we started growing, especially the beginning, was actually being in the community, like being there, like I was holding all these different events, whether it was like cruel class is I was holding like there was, for example, that during one of the times there was a lot of ice raids going on where literally ICE was going into restaurants and schools and just taking all these people and arresting them without even asking for identification. It was just like really shitty things. So I remember having an event at my office where I brought an immigration lawyer and she was able to hold kind of like a a Q&A session with like all these different people that wanted to come in.
Speaker2: And we would hold them in Spanish and English. And she was giving legal advice. And that was like one of my friends who I connected with. And so Curl's was like less of just like, oh, higher education kind of became like a. A community center for whatever is going on, another time we were raising money for the families that were affected by the Mississippi ICE raids, and I was like, what should we do? What should we do? We came together and we drew, like the most fiery reggaeton party in L.A. is like over like a thousand dollars. When I tell you, like all these deejays that, like big time cool deejays came and donated their time on the venue, the local bar in downtown donated their whole space for us. We sold tickets. People volunteered to bartend like my cousins have this like ice cream shop. So like they were giving away ice cream. Somebody else was like, I have a cotton candy business. So, yeah, we were like
Speaker1: Like cotton candy. Bring it along.
Speaker2: Yeah, I was going I'm going to go and give it to people so they could come and support this cause. So we were just like almost like every weekend we were participating in events, whether it was about here or not on. And I feel like people really got to know me. I even went to New York, so I was going to be our first time in New York. I was like, what do you mean? Do you guys want me to do this whole time? I'm talking to my customers. I'm social like they are my best friend. And then that's another thing that I tell people. I'm like, if you don't have money marketing money, you know, what is the best marketing tool? Turning your front camera on, getting ready for the people and talking to them, talking to them like they are your friends, just directly talking to them. If you have a question about innovation, which they do here, there is a great tool. Instagram stories, for example, that's called Pulls. You can ask them what are the first new product that we had after the initial launch was refreshing. Tingle's great. And it was one of the best launches that I have even had to this day. And it was because I asked the customers what they were like, can you make me a lighter cool cream for refreshing? OK, done. So I feel like so much of my role in the business have literally been less of telling people what they should need, like selling things to people and more of them telling me what to do and what they want and taking their orders, like me being like I'm on it. I will work my butt off to give you what you are requesting right now, you know. So I think that's been part of the reason why it's been doing good is because I listen to them truly
Speaker1: Like active listening and putting it into action, because for me, when I hear this, I'm like, this is amazing. Like you did a million dollars in your first calendar year, but then you also figured out, like, OK, well, you know, you also need to become a legitimate business and be like, you know, hiring all the people that you need, not just kind of people out the back and in the garage and all these kinds of things. You had to become this empire to get it all done and then keep growing and retain your customers and do all the other things.
Speaker2: Yeah, so I truly believe that there is no such thing as bad luck or there's no such thing as good luck, the world and the universe generally wants you to be happy. They want you to be here to love and spread love. And I truly believe that when you're having bad luck, it's like there's something happening. You're not a lightning. You know, obviously things can happen that are not good, but it's like looking inward, listening to your intuition, seeing how have you not been listening to your mind, to the world, to yourself since forever and looking back and analyzing like, how can I realised, how can I realign to pivot towards so that more doors can be open? Because I truly believe that when people start having a lot of good luck, it's not good luck. It's you're living in your purpose. You're living and doing what is best for you. And I truly believe that what is meant for you will always be for you, you know, and then when doors close, when I fail at something, I'm grateful. I'm so grateful that I failed because it means that the universe paused me and told me, stop, this is the wrong way to go. This is not for you.
Speaker2: And I don't want something. If it's for somebody else, I don't want it. I want them to have it because that is in their purpose and that is how they will be happiest and will be able to give the most love on this earth. And I think that, you know, like when doors start opening and like, OK, I need to, like, be really prepared and use everything that I've have in my tool shed of knowledge and grow, grow and keep doing this because it's not enough for the universe to, like, throw little luck your way to open a door. You have to be prepared. You have to not let it fall like opportunity and preparation, have to meet each other equally. You know, and I was really lucky in that I had been preparing for this type of business growth my whole life. Like who told me to go to grad school? Why did I do all that? Like my last position before leaving vastly, I was the account manager working directly with a buyer for Target representing the world's largest food company, literally, you know, and then within the year, my whole life, my brother has been the person that I've since I was a little girl.
Speaker2: I thought he was the most the smartest human being on this earth. You couldn't tell me anything like I would be learning about Einstein. And I'm like, he's smarter than my brother, my big brother Tony. He's smarter than them. So one year I convinced him to leave his corporate job and mind you, him, too. He had been studying this his whole life. He went to business school as well. Who told him to do that? You know, but his type of business, he's have very heavy numbers, very heavy finance. And so it was literally the opposite. Like it was almost like when we came together, we made a full circle because he's very antisocial. He's very like introverted. He's very like, give me a spreadsheet, give me some numbers, and I will be here all day long. And I don't want to want to talk to me like I want to be behind the scenes at night. But his specialty is numbers. So it was almost like when we came together, oh, there is no business person, no fancy SHYMANSKY office and education and experience that could literally try even a pinki of the power that my brother and I have together.
Speaker1: That's so cool. That is so, so cool. I feel like I could talk to you for literally ever and ask you a million questions, but I am conscious of the time and how generous you've been with sharing. So I have a few quick questions left before we do our wrap up. Six quick questions at the end. Where is the business today? What exciting things can you shout about? How big is the team? Can you share any revenue numbers? Hit me with the highlights.
Speaker2: Yeah, well, we're on track for 10 million a year this year.
Speaker1: Oh, my God, that's so cool.
Speaker2: Wow. So we are going to be four years old in October of this year and. We're just growing and we launched into large retail last year in twenty twenty into Target and we're continuing to go into way more doors. We're fifty seven countries now and we have a really big launch of new innovation this year. Expect a bunch of new products and just continue growing. I mean, I'm so lucky to be able to employ such talented, amazing people and I've just been really focusing on what I love most now, which is, you know, innovation like product development and all of that, especially the last year. That was really difficult with the pandemic and everything that was going on that allowed me to go back to my original love, which was innovation. So I've been really lucky to now be able to finally launch.
Speaker1: That is so cool, I'm really excited to see what you come out with. I think I also read your completely bootstrapped style, right?
Speaker2: Yes. So till this day, completely 100 percent self-funded. My brother stole my right hand man. So much of my family still works with me. Our team is actually all Latino people from L.A. like, well, L.A. maydays. We're all from the same neighborhood. Like it wasn't even on purpose. I just kept meeting these people. And I feel like one thing that my business I've only been able to show is how much raw talent there is in these communities. And I feel like soon as you give them a chance, it's like they show out. So I'm so proud of my team and we're still bootstrapped. And what allows us to be bootstrapped is that we've been very conscious of profit to do one. Like, I think that's a conversation that I have with my retailers all the time. It's like, no, no, no, you cannot compare us to these big, huge companies with lots of investors that have never been profitable. Have these financial statements that literally say they don't plan to ever be profitable. The cost of acquiring customer is greater than the actual cost of the product. You know, that's not me. I can't afford that. Like, in order for me to grow, I have to have profit. So because of that, you can't have the same policies in place. You can't expect me to compete with these marketing numbers. We can't compete in the same campaigns. Like I can't be that I'm not about to do this. I can't pay you a thousand dollars for a sign on your store, personal or like. The bank will literally laugh at me when I try to go get a loan for that.
Speaker2: So I think it's like I realized and I'm on this like almost like mission every time I step into like a new space where it's their first time interacting with a business that kind of looks like mine. So our first big retail collaboration was with Nordstrom Potluck, and it was their first time working with a multicultural brand like cell phone, they told or whatever. And we ended up being the highest selling haircare brand during that time period. And then next with Nespoli, we started a whole new category within haircare called Latina Haircare, and this category launched with me. And there's been so many other places and spaces where it that's it's their first time like, you know, dealing with the business that looks like mine. And I feel like it's my responsibility that in order for me to leave that door open for other businesses that have a similar background, I have to fight these battles. I have to educate them. I have to let them know that in order for to diversity to exist behind the scenes as well, not just a model that you post on this ad for one week, you have to analyze these gatekeepers, have to analyze the policies that they have in place that are keeping out. Diverse businesses are keeping out. So far, the businesses are keeping out these businesses that may not have these crazy marketing dollars and budgets, but they have really quality products and really quality machines, really quality things that they're doing for their industry.
Speaker1: Totally. Gosh, that's amazing. And something that yeah, it never even crossed my mind that you need to go in there and put your foot down and be like, hey, of course I can't compete. Of course we don't have the same dollars as these big conglomerates. Wow, that's amazing. Holy moly.
Speaker2: I fight these battles like on a daily basis.
Speaker1: That's crazy. But I've been
Speaker2: Really lucky to, for example, have like a target who has been able to be understanding and compromise and work with us and has gone back and reanalyze their own policies. And like my beginnings with all those other labs, those people that were changing and making exceptions for me, it's like they're understanding that as well and they're willing to change. So I really am grateful for that.
Speaker1: Yeah, that's amazing. What is your key piece of advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business?
Speaker2: Girl, trust me. Like I said, if this business is solving solution, all you can do is truly, truly understand your target demographic, hone into that person. Is she in L.A.? Is she in New York and London? Where is she? Who is she? Where is she? What does she do? What pages she follow? What businesses, if she's a poor get in there, really hone in and serve her as everything else, everybody else. But if you have a solution and you understand who you are serving. Don't let anything keep you from them and don't let anything distract you from getting to her or him. And that is one big thing that I've been very lucky that I've been very consistent on is understanding my target demographic and not letting me so much always distract me at the end of the day, serving that person because it doesn't have to be so complicated. Sometimes we overcomplicate things. We make business too difficult. We're all here trying to serve everybody. Like unless you have a huge, huge marketing budget, you cannot afford this huge marketing demographic. What you can afford a niche and you can serve that niche and you can be the best person serving that niche. It doesn't mean that people outside of that will buy. They probably will because we have customers from everywhere. But as long as you are the best one serving that niche, you can grow and other people will see and want to as well.
Speaker1: Love that so true. OK, we are up to the six quick questions, we're going to breathe through it because I'm super aware of the time here is so good.
Speaker2: Yeah, I'm good.
Speaker1: I'm good. All right. Good questions. Let's go. Question number one is what's your why why are you doing what you do?
Speaker2: Rove is self love, and I'm here to convert undercover Curley's to the Curlee world.
Speaker1: I love that. That's OK. Question number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop?
Speaker2: One really big moment that I do not expect it to be so big was Ryan Seacrest with Patty Rodriguez called me and they wanted to highlight my small business on the radio show in the middle of it, Patty Rodriguez, I met her briefly during an event one time, and little did I know she was going to have Ryan Seacrest call me. Ryan Seacrest is ready. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He has a big radio show on because if I'm in L.A. and they called me and they did like this whole little thing on me when I tell you our sales and our enquiry's and it was just insane. And I think that was like the first step towards like a mainstream audience seeing my little business.
Speaker1: Wow, that's amazing. Gosh. Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that is helping you get smarter?
Speaker2: I love audio books, I love reading, I love like I love. I'm here for it. But the last book that I read, just like gems, gems, dropping gems, it's called Rework. I really recommend Rework. It's by the founders of these camp and read it. It's still moving. Great.
Speaker1: I'm going to link that in the show notes. I'm definitely going to check it out myself. That sounds so cool. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your AMPM rituals and habits that keep you feeling successful and motivated and happy?
Speaker2: Work life balance, I think that was the lesson I learned early on, was that in order for my business to run, well, I have to build the architecture of myself. And I have to understand that the end of the day, it's just hair. So I cannot kill myself over this. I cannot like you know, I can't compromise my health over this. So I make work life balance a really big part of the business culture. So I make sure that if I'm happy, our employees are happy. I feel like we will be way more productive and do much more quality work and it will come off to the customers as well. So like eating right, working out, having moments to disconnect, all of these things have been really important for me and the business.
Speaker1: Mm hmm. Question number five, we're almost there is if you were given a one thousand dollar no strings attached Grant, where would you spend that money?
Speaker2: I would just get more product or like new product, anything new that I could give or whatever as many units I can afford with that one thousand dollars as long as I have my phone. That's exactly what I would do. And I would tell people about it and make a really fun video. And then I would make the video on talk. By the way, anyone who is starting or growing a business do not sleep on tick tock. Tick tock is the future.
Speaker1: It's so good, isn't it? I've been loving watching all the small businesses blow up on their. Yeah, and question number six, the last question is, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan? I think we've already touched on it, but all the same.
Speaker2: Yeah, I'm grateful. I'm grateful because what is better for you will always be for you. And when a door closes is because that door was there for you and the universe and life has a plan for you. So when something closes, don't be upset. Be grateful that you didn't go in a direction that wasn't going to serve you.
Speaker1: Julie, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show. I am just in awe of you and your energy. I loved this chat so much and I'm so grateful that you gave me so much of your time. Thank you so much.
Speaker2: No, thank you. I'm honored to be on here. And thank you so much for having me.