Female Startup Club

1 of 244 episodes indexed
Back to Search - All Episodes

From a near closure to $6M+ annual revenue in 2 short years, here’s how CurlMix Founder Kim Lewis did it

by Female Startup Club
February 11th 2021
00:42:49
Description

Joining me on the show today is Kimberly Lewis, Founder of CurlMix.

Curlmix is a haircare brand for curly hair, made simple. But as many stories go, the brand wasn’t always what we know it as... More

doing here, we're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast. Being boss with Emily Thompson, if you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler, I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner, it's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Kimberly Lewis for female startup club, okay, yeah, yeah. Hey everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast, I'm your host, june rasheen and joining me on the show, today is Kim Lewis, founder of comics curl mixes a hair care brand for curly hair, made simple, but as many stories go, the brand wasn't always what we know it as today, When Kim started the brand back in 2015, it was originally a subscription beauty and hair care box, And when that was starting to fail, and Kim was really close to giving it all up, she did a major pivot and went on to scale the brand to $1 million dollars that same year.

Since then, the brand has had continued growth and in this episode, kim shares everything from her numbers to her growth strategies, how she identified the pivot and the books, every entrepreneur should be reading immediately. And while I've got you here, I have been so grateful to receive all of your really beautiful emails. So please keep them coming. I've left my email in the show notes. So please reach out if you're interested in being part of our listener research. This is kIM for female startup club. Mhm. Mr It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately. Right? And if you're an e commerce brand, that means you might be seeing more first time customers. But once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back? How do you keep them connected to you and your brand? That's what clay vo is for. Clay vo is the ultimate marketing platform for e commerce brands. Claudio gives you the tools to build your contact list, send memorable emails, automate key messages and so much more.

That's why it's trusted by more than 40,000 brands including female founded businesses like Pearl Mix Hint and Campari beauty. Get in on the action to delight customers grow brand affinity and make some serious money. Clay Vo customers made $10.2 billion dollars through the platform last year. So whether you're launching a new online business or taking your brand to the next level, Clay vo can help you get growing faster and I can confirm the platform is super easy to use and has all the hard stuff done for you like templates, automated sequences and general email related resources to learn how to win at email marketing. Plus it's free to get started, just visit clay vo dot com slash F S C to create your free account today. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash f S C. Female startup presence Kimberly.

Hey, hello, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you for having me, I'm so happy to be here. I love talking to women me to finally enough. Can you start by introducing yourself and what your business actually is? Yes, I'm kim Ceo and co founder of comics that were clean beauty brand for curly hair. We focused on making beauty simple with simple ingredients, simple systems and simple marketing. Amazing. And I know you have such an interesting backstory and you have so many cool fun little uh, little things that I've read about. So I'd love to go back to your life way before curl mix was started to find out what was getting you interested in entrepreneurship and how it kind of came about entrepreneurship. My first introduction to it really had to be in college when me and my husband took a, well I took a tech class my last semester and basically we're like learning how to build an app and I was building an app for educating women with natural hair and I learned about the engineering quad, like maybe my last semester, I mean I knew about the engineering quad, but I went to an event there and they were talking about social entrepreneurship and I then found out that we had a whole building dedicated to entrepreneurship at my college the whole time I was there but I did not know and I was so salty because it was my last semester, so I had to like leave, but I was like oh my gosh, there are so many free resources here you have I to like take advantage of if you wanna be entrepreneur, so I was like well I'm gonna have to figure it out on my own.

Um I started working right out of college but I honestly hated it and going back, I think it was just a really bad going back, I think it was just a bad fit for me because it was extremely conservative, so for like a young black girl like getting right out of college is you don't want to go to a super conservative company, but I got in trouble for every little thing, every little thing taking off my suit jacket or like I was early to work, I wasn't early enough, like it was always a bunch of stuff, my manager told me how bad I was every day at the job and so I thought like I can't stay here, I was going home crying every night and my husband, he was just like I want you to be happy but I don't not for this amount of money, like I don't care what you do, this is not, I want you to be happy. And so I ended up quitting three months into that and then started my first like attempted entrepreneurship, but it was also married. So my husband, we've been together since you were 16, um we got married that year and so there's always been two of us kind of like, You know, to make things happen and be able to fall back on even when we were both making $10 an hour and he was working at Starbucks actually making $9 an hour and I was making 10 at the portrait studio after I left.

And so that was kind of like what I was doing on the side when we first started our first business, wow! Oh my gosh! And so what happened with the first business? What did you learn from that before coming in? To kill mix. Oh my gosh! Um one, I have a real revenue model. My first business was a hobby because I didn't have a way to make money. And so, and it's so funny. Well, you know what technically tech, is this the same way, right? Tech is like, I'm building this technology and you should fund it, but it's technically a hobby and until you figure out how to monetize it. So until you get a massive amount of users that uses that validate your idea. But back then what I found is that people of color don't really have the luxury of building tech companies because you have to kind of go To get funded and so only 3% of women are actually funded and then people of color is like you can count them on like hands, you know, so you have to assume you're not going to get funded, which means you can't really go after big ideas that might require you to work at it for two years without any kind of payment, you know? Um and so I basically started that with my first business was a social network for natural hair, but I learned that one, a social network is gonna have to compete with facebook.

So it's like if you're not going to be better or have to be different, like, you know, I'm not different because different isn't always the best, but it's too niche to really make enough money around advertising because that's going to have to be how you make money. And so when I realized that I would definitely be a year and a half, I got my first check for $200 from someone. So I did that for my first business and didn't make any money and I was like, okay, I'm not, I graduated with a business degree. I can't just not be making like any money, you know, especially not coming from where I come from. And so, but I had picked up a lot of skills I learned on the web design, I learned to take photos, I learned how to market and sell because I was going to expose and I was figuring out people's problems and telling them why my product was perfect for their problem. I had started creating content and d I was like doing videography for experts in the healthcare industry and then posting it on my site which is the natural academy, which is like my social network. And I learned so much like so much At on my dime because we invested about maybe $15,000 from Tim's appearance on who wants to be a millionaire?

Uh Do you know the tv show total? Yes, okay so we threw out $50,000 of that money on my first business and we were like oh my gosh this doesn't make money and I feel like I paid for an NBA honestly because I learned so much and I was like the next time I started business, we're gonna make money on day one because I just can't afford to live like this. Mhm. And that is when comics came about and so we actually started promises A. D. I. Y. Subscription box after an episode of shark tank. We're watching this lady make like organic cookies and she basically had all the individual ingredients and they will put them in a box and she was shipping people almost like Betty Crocker but for like organic cookies and I was like, oh my gosh, just anyone doing this for hair, I d I Y all of my hair care products in my kitchen and I would love it if someone would send me all the materials and mix it myself. And my husband was like, okay, why don't you do it? And I'm like, there's a reason this doesn't exist, No one wants it. And he's like, no kim just give it a shot. We launched it, it flopped. But then I realized I didn't know how to launch things. So then I read influenced by robert Giordani, I learned how to picture journalists and like Googling how to pitch a journalist and reading all the blogs about the best way to pitch them.

I applied that got one important journalist to say yes to covering our story and our launch and then traded it up the chain to everyone else who said no, so take this like, hey, like refining for me and I was going to feature our launch. Like, would you reconsider? And then all of a sudden I had like eight different press people who were like, oh yeah, we'll cover it. But they were ignoring my emails before to get inside the leverage. And I redid my website based on robert Sudanese um principles of influence. So like for example, you need authority or you need social proof, which means you need reviews or you need people who are more credible than you to say that your product is really good, which is why people use influencers or celebrities or doctors, you know, um that's just too, or you have to give people something to get something, so it gives you something they automatically feel inclined to give that they owe you um and they just kind of use principles and studies, so that's why you get 15% off when you come to a website, because now you're like, well maybe I will buy, you kind of feel it's a psychological thing, I did all this stuff and then we launched and then we start 100 boxes on the first day, so I was like, oh my gosh, this is how you launched, this is how you do it.

I've been like play in the mud for the last three years to figure out entrepreneurship and this is kind of like how you do it. And so then we did that for about two years as a D. I. Y box and our flexi joe was our most popular best selling box that we had, people loved it and they were using it to do a Washington. And so I was at a point where I was actually going to close the business because our subscription boxes, we did 100001st year, 140,000 a second year, but it wasn't growing like a subscription box to grow, I guess subscription box company, she easily have like 1000, I think at a minimum 1000 subscribers monthly after your first year doing it and we could barely keep a couple 100. Um In fact our customers started to like unsubscribe, so I was like oh my gosh, like our best customers are subscribing and like the boxes were piling up in their house, they weren't getting to them and it was because the boxes were fun, they were novelty, not necessity. And so I realized I needed to build a product that you needed because they were still wants to sort of buy hair care products. And so was I honestly if I'm being honest, I make a deep conditioner, D.

I. Y. But I still going by like my regular products. And so we actually pivoted at the top of 2018 to just selling our flexi joe as a ready made product. And then we also added a moisturizer because those are our two best selling products. And then that year we went from january, so we made $3000. And then in february we made $8000 and I was like, oh my gosh, if we could just get back to like 16, that was our best month ever as a D. I. Y. Subscription box and that was a month, we did about $30,000. So we had grown that whole year, we ended up doing about a million um in revenue and I was like wow, oh my God wow. And so I'm just wondering when you kind of, was it a hunch that you had that you should switch from D. I. Y. Model to best selling product or were you going out and reaching out to every customer and being like, hey, what did you love about us? We're thinking about changing. Actually. I had tried doing the full size products in the past, like maybe like a year prior and like we did a little commercial for it, but the price was too high, it flopped like it was, the jars were not ideal for customers, They were like glass jars that I had custom like the custom wood top for them and that was cool, but like the grass of the driving break or they weren't suitable for holding hair products in the shower, it was just all kinds of stuff.

And so I was like, so that didn't work. So I had chalked it up to say, oh we shouldn't do ready made products, but then I met my advisor and my advisor came from back fish capital, They invest in underrepresented founders and Garland is the founder of it, and Christie pits is her like work wife and co founder. Um And so Christie, it's amazing. But I met Gilbert who's my advice, she's so amazing. Yeah. Yeah, she she is the unsung hero and it's like, people don't necessarily know who she is all the time, but it's like we went on shark tank, She was the one who is like our pretend shark and kind of gave me some really valuable feedback that really helped us do better on the show. But my advisor was like, what's your best selling product? And this is, I want to say this is just September 2017, I'm seven months pregnant, I'm getting ready to close my business because I'm just like, I am not to have a baby and I need to make this isn't making money and tim has a full time job the whole time, right? And I'm like, I could be making as much as he's making, but I'm making nothing. So I was like, I'm just gonna close it up.

So I was talking to Gilbert and he was saying, well, what is your best selling product? And I was like, what's a flak suit job, but no manufacturer will make it for us. Like I've gone to three and they all said no. And then he was just like, well, why don't you figure it out? And I was like, first of all, I've been trying to do that the second of all, Okay. I mean, he's like, well, I know a girl who figure out how to carbonate tea and like manufacturers wouldn't do that for her. So he was like, I think maybe you can figure out how to, you know, make flexi gel, but also at scale. And so I spent about a month in my kitchen making and the tricky thing about flexi jealous that it's, it's tricky to get stable because it's food, you know, and you're, you're putting the food in your hair, But it needs to be able to sit on a shelf for a year and I spent a month in my kitchen, I made 50 different batches and every time I would go outside, people were like, Oh my God, what is in your hair? Like they were flagging down the middle of the street cars flying everything, so crack up. Okay, so this is something people really, really want. And so what we did, because we had launched so many things and lost so much money by this point, we probably spent maybe $25,000 our own money between the different businesses that we've been trying to launch.

Um and like a little bit of credit card debt and stuff, we're just like, we're going to do pre orders if people don't put their money up for it before we learned before we give it to them, they don't really want it. So we did pre orders of just reading many bottles of flags each hour, I want to say in october and we ended up selling hundreds of a matter of hours. And so for me, I could barely keep a couple 100 people as a subscriber to this box and I was like, oh my gosh, this is what people want and then we launched again the next day and another 100 I was like, oh my gosh, this is it time we figured out. And so we decided that december after I had my baby, the one that just kind of interrupted us love, he's three now. Actually got him to write, he just made three. I had december and we pivoted the entire business. So literally the top of the year, we started selling ready made flaxseed gel. And then we turned our next best selling box which is our moisturizer into a product and those are our two main products. And then we added oil and a body butter later. And that was the product suite that we used to get us to a million dollars in revenue, Wow, what a year.

So this is 2018. So I said 2018 and I got his job three months into the year, like his contract ended. So he was like, I'm like you can come work for us and he was like, I'll give you three months and we're not paying ourselves in three months. I went back to work and so I was like, Okay, I got to make this happen. Little pressure, love a bit of pressure. Nice. And so I'm wondering when you were going through that kind of re launch phase where you're switching from the D. I. Y to the products, what was the messaging, what was the marketing that you were doing to get people, you know, even to know that you'd switched into that pre sale phase, the marketing around it. Um, I basically marketed to wash and go and basically I get like it was a one product washing go initially the flexi joe like you can definitely do a Washington with just the flax seed jo and then they started asking for the moisturizer and that's when we create that. But then also I kind of started looking at hashtag or competitors for products that were adjacent to what we were doing. So other jail products and later their hashtag and then reaching out to micro influencers who were using those products and doing revenue sharing with them.

So basically they would earn 10% of sales and they would give their customer 20% discount and then people would come back, and buy. you know, comics for the first time and then maybe they would come back and become 2nd, 3rd time uses etcetera. Yeah. You totally acquired them by that point. That's so interesting. Micro I mean less than 20,000 followers on Instagram. So, and that was where we focused, although like you can definitely youtube approach, but youtube folks are more expensive instagram content is shorter. I mean quicker for most people, but it does live longer if you go like the youtube brow mm Yeah totally. I'm interested to know you said that in January did like 3000 then you doubled and then doubled again and you were kind of growing at that steady pace all the way to doing a million in sales in 2018. You know, that's huge growth. So what do you think we were doing to scale up to get those kind of numbers? We started with micro influencers. So I did have a small list, my list maybe when I started at the top of the year with a few 1000 people um that were like kind of subscribers, You know, this is 2018.

I started my first business in 2015. So this is maybe like Three ish years and we're gonna be 10,000 subscribers max. And I want to say, and I was doing all the email marketing then, so email marketing is going to be your bread and butter. It's still is right now, it makes up over 40% of our revenue. So like email marketing is still huge. But back then I was doing it and I had my customer service manager who is now like my cco my chief customer officer, she um was helping me as an influencer management and customer service at the same time. So she was a good generalists and getting, getting a few generalists, you need some people who believe in you and you have to be down for the cause and be able to do multiple different things and for them not to be like, well that's not my job, you know, so you need to people on your team because at this point I had tim had quit his job to come work for the business, my customer service throughout was working part time. But she almost got to the point where she was like, hey, can I need a real job? Because Just 10,000 hours, like nothing. So I'm gonna like, leave. And I was like, Oh no, no, no, like come back. So actually, she was my first employee. I hired her before I paid myself because I really needed help and people don't work for free, so at least not for very long.

So she was on my team as well at this point. And so me and tim were basically toggle back and forth between making the product, sending emails and we had some money on ads until I want to say april of that year. So from 3000 to 8000 to 30,000 and then like next month 25, but that was all from like influencer marketing and like micro influencers in an email, that was it. We weren't seeing anyone on the as yet. We started screaming on as I want to say in April and may be, we started at like $50 a day and we worked with someone who kind of new hair care and he had a lot of clients in the beauty space and particularly the black beauty space. So that, that, that was his fourth time and then we started putting paid ads behind what we were already doing. You know, we had our first six figure months, I want to say that august, which is great because then we filmed on shark tank in september. So we applied to be on shark tank, I want to say maybe in May that year to go back. But then you, you know, do a four or five months of prep and then you film most, I don't know if they know that, but it's like a, it's a pretty tough process to go through with producers of the show and getting all your setup done and your staging and your models and you're paying for a lot of that and you're also practicing your pitch seven or eight times.

It was tough. So doing that while the business was scaling was difficult once we got to about $30,000 in revenue. I was like, this can monthly revenue, but this is not, this can't be in my house, my baby was five months um at the time. And so he's like learning to walk and crawl around all these boxes, like, You know, it was like starting to just take up so much space and I was like, I can't, and at this point I can only make 60 bottles in the batch and so I'm literally on in my house and my, you know, we just had a baby, right? So everything's here. I have a stockpot on every eye on the stove, right? Therefore, therefore stock pots on the stove. One of those like a little I and the other was like a big guy. So this one cooks faster, but this one's lower and I'm like, oh my gosh, this is annoying. I'm having to keep my husband how to make it so that I can be the one making the emails and like marketing. Yeah, making it make money. Right? And so that was some test. So we actually end up finding a coworking manufacturing space here in Chicago where we could, they had all the industrial hookups that we would need And that was one of the biggest reasons we needed to move out because we need to be able to buy machinery that would allow us to make 700 in the batch.

And then that even took some a ton of googling because me and my husband don't have like I have worked in logistics, so I do have a manufacturing background but I didn't have a contract manufacturing background. So I didn't know like proper emotions or homogenizes or there's lots of, I just didn't know about and these are like machines, emotion is what you want to get with the product, but homogenizes the machines you used to get. And there was a huge learning curve and we're trying to make something that manufacturers won't make. So like we have to figure out how can I recreate this stock pot with flexi joe. So then we started going to like the pack expo back when the world was open. They had like expose where all the packaging companies would come and show off their machinery or I was on Ebay looking for like cheaper versions of the stuff because like restaurant store charging $30,000 or something. I said I don't have that, I have to like what can I get? And I would see like Ebay, so then we end up buying the machine that makes the flexi joe on ebay, like a super discount, luckily it was not a lemon, which means that, you know a limited like dad, dad.

Yeah, because we definitely, the second one we bought was definitely a dead and we were out a couple $1000. Yeah, so it's a risk. Yes, very much so. Well we got lucky that when we were all work and we were able to move into the facility, the facility that we started, it was like 1000 square feet. Um Now we probably have around 10 to 15,000 square feet overall in the different units at the coworking space. But we had one to start and we were literally making the flax seed oil and we strive to outside of there. And then we, when we started growing so quickly you could put a hole in the wall and then just rent the unit next door and add it to your lease. So you don't have to move. So I love that And that was just kind of like all the things that we were doing, I mean it's more to the story but that's that's kind of like what we were doing as we were edging up to that six figure months and then we maybe do like 200,000 that November. And that was when I was like, we cannot continue to do this with just me tim our customer service manager slash influencing managers last everything in between my cousin who then came on to make products with us, that's about four of us and we had a big black friday sale but we could not afford like we couldn't get everything out.

Like it was like we had four people but we had maybe like a couple of 1000 orders in the queue And I was like you know what, I put a post on Facebook and I was like you know, what I'll pay you guys like $12 an hour if you could be here tomorrow morning, which is like maybe in five hours, like I'll pay you for the next four days and will help us get these orders out. And I had like five or six people in my inbox was like I got you, I'll be there and I was like wow wow. And then it came to help get it together and it was like magic and I just couldn't believe it, you know, I was like this is what it means when you hire people. So I never looked back, I never went back to the old like I'm going to have a super small team and everybody's gonna be struggling you know? Yeah, lift everyone up, make the business run smoothly. Oh my gosh. I want to talk about shark tank. You went on the show, you turned down a massive deal and then it ended up being the best thing ever. Can you tell us a little bit about the situation and the experience? I went on the show and the valuation you know starting has a terrible deals like that's like that's what they're known for right?

And part of it so that you can do as a consumer can do easy math at home because getting into the details of faith and convertible notes and the details of options and The pool and just all of that. Like they don't want you to do that on TV right? They want you to know that like I'm getting $100,100,000 for 10% of this company. That's easy math for everybody at home, right? But it's like might be a terrible valuation for you and really unrealistic for you to go home with the evaluation. I have to deal with that. And so you know they're trying to good TV right? And so for us we needed like $400,000 And the only we're going to get that is that Robert Lower evaluations about $2 million, robert. Herjavec was the one who made an offer at the time. We were attracted to a million dollars. So we were attracted to a million dollars. We weren't really worth to. Not in the venture sense right? Like that could have gone into a venture capitalists. They would have probably given me a $6 million valuation which actually did end up happening In December. So I'm going to offer me about $6 million dollars valuation.

But I didn't think they were just gonna be money. I don't think we're gonna have like the connections that I wanted. It's actually turned that down too. And so it wasn't until after the episode aired in March the next year that we got to offer for about a million dollar investment from the ceo of linkedin and other partners. Um He's not he's a former ceo he stepped down last summer And that was for a much higher valuation. Just like around 12 million posts. And don't even talk about post money right? Like on shark tank. Like that's not even um I think you know so starting is really for like quick math easy to digest. It was a great opportunity. It was also extremely difficult having to manage a growing business while also you know rewriting your pitch seven or eight times coming up with an entire like set that you have to pay for and then bringing the models to L. A. And then some people I pitched with even after you, you know shark tank starts with about maybe 30,000 applicants. 30 40,000 applicants and only 88 actually pitch on the show. And so there was some people to pitch with the didn't air because it's not guaranteed.

And so like that is like a whole other stressor right? Like what if I don't go up? What about so then your pressure should be like be honest and do the right thing. What do you want? Are you going to take this deal? Are you just standing on tv and you're gonna actually go home and be like no I'll pass. And I didn't want to do that because I wanted my show to air. So I was like I need to be honest and forthcoming about where I am and what I willing to take it when I'm not. And so my husband and I we sat the night before we air the night before we went to film we were like what is our bagna, bagna And NBA school you learn as a better alternative than negotiating an agreement And basically it's like your walk away numbers like what I won't accept. You know? And so I was like we will not give up 20% of our company. I was like well do 15 and that if they won't move you know then we'll just say no And Robert were not Robert would not budge, he was like no, 20% he wants. And typically for what he was offering 20% is a whole round adventure. So every time someone raises like a seed or series a or series you should receive typically 20% of the company and everyone gets diluted right, 20% robert was trying to take was literally the whole round $400,000 versus the future evaluation I got was like 10% You know, versus the 20, you know, and twice the money.

So it was just yeah, that was kind of crazy. Did it have still an impact on the business once it went to air? Oh absolutely. We were spending a lot of money and at that point we since we reduce that a lot but that we were close like a million normal I want to say Uh when it aired. Um but again, we haven't been spending that kind of money on ads. Maybe it would have been like maybe 6, 700 or something like that, I would think. But it also has reruns, so we get reruns at least once a quarter since it aired. Um which is like really, really cool. It's not as big as like the launch because when you first air you get like, you know, it's never that big, but it's also a nice boost to keep you kind of like nice free press basically. Although I did you pay for it in other ways, Right? Total margins and all that, you know, they pay for it in other ways. So since you've add on shark tank and that came out in March 2019, what's been working for you now when it comes to acquiring new customers content, we have to constantly serve them with constant in educational content, showing them how to get the best washing go ever, showing them how to use cannabis products, how to refresh their hair house to protect it at night, how to, you know, use our body butters or just literally like being in front of them teaching them as much as possible.

Mm So general, but it's like it's that is it and it's the hard thing and finding which platform makes the most sense to do that one, whether that's clubhouse or facebook or to attack or twitter or you know whatever or wherever your customer is, you need to be there and giving them confidence. I haven't spoken to anyone about clubhouse on the show yet. What's been your take of the platform? I have only used it personally. Um Honestly, I feel like it's just a stage for people who do coaching and because you don't just start like random clubhouses and then they're like popping and will grow, you kinda have to plan it off the app and then get on there. Um, I think there's value. Um, you really have to qualify who you're listening to before you get on there. Otherwise you're wasting a lot of time. So it's not something I'm like, oh, I can't wait to get the clubhouse today. It's something I'm in the bathtub and I'm like, I'll scroll through and listen to something and pop around. But I'm having a honestly podcasting thing is better because you qualify your information and you know what you're gonna listen to and you're gonna get something from it clubhouse as cool as you need to, if your coach, I think that's the platform for you.

Yeah, that's an interesting insight. I agree. So where is your business today? And what does the future look like? Last year we did about six million in revenue. Um, and so we've grown a lot. We have over 30 people on our team. I have not raised money yet. Um, since that 1.2 million, I am in the process of it now because I want to get bigger with my vision is I want to be like Procter and gamble. That is what I want to do. We're still here on the south side of Chicago manufacturing stateside and all that and employing women and people of color. Um, my whole executive team is women. So like, uh, that makes, I'm very proud of that. And right now I'm just focused on getting the 10 million, you know, it's really difficult to get there, investors all told me that I was just like, okay, whatever, like, you know, but it is hard, it's hard because you have to, It's not about getting the 10 million has want to do with processes and it doesn't do it with like being innovative and that is the thing that most small businesses have a hard time doing. Um in fact, I would say 100% of us have a hard time putting in processes because you go from being a solo founder to how do I get dozens of people ahead?

How did you get my team ahead to get to learn to motivate people and also give them direction? But if you don't actually know how to do what they're hired to do, which many of us may not know how to do because we're, I didn't stay in corporate very long or whatever. It's like you actually have to become more corporate, the more successful you become. And so that is a huge challenge. And that's kind of where I am my business today. Yeah, I guess that's a really big learning curve. So it's gonna be exciting to tackle once you're over that leap. Thank you. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? I think women have a big idea when you want to validate it with people and having them actually purchase it. So that's the best way to validate it. The second thing I would say is I'm not someone who thinks that you should be a solo founder, Not if you're gonna build something big, like if you're gonna do a lifestyle business, you don't necessarily need like a founder, right? But if you don't do something like really big, I don't know, and maybe I'm qualifying big, it's like if you want a business that's like 20 million plus, I don't know, I really think you should have a partner because it gets so tough and you want somebody that you can like lean on or who that will pick up the slack when you're like, I just I don't have the mental space or somebody who is just in it with you when it sucks because doing that by yourself, No one else will understand, you know, and I think there's value in that, but I know some people who are like, I'm a solo founder and I don't need anybody else, I just think that's kinda lonely, you know?

Um and I think it didn't do anything big, you have to have other people involved, otherwise they won't ever get that big because you can't make it big by yourself. Yeah, we need people in the trenches with you, that's for sure. We're up to the six quick questions part of the episode. My favorite part. Question number one is what's your why? Why are you doing what you're doing? I want to create a place to work for people of color where you don't feel like your color is the thing that people care most about or see first when you walk into a room and it's an issue. Um that was why I escaped corporate. I felt like I didn't belong and I don't want, I want to create a work environment where you literally come to work and not think about the fact that you're black. Um and that's really like, that doesn't exist for a lot of black people. Amazing. Thank you. Question #2 is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that's made your business pop When we were on our way to $1 million. We actually made $1 million dollars before shark tank. So it can't be shark tank that made my business pop, right? So it was like what made that pop? And I think what made us pop initially was working with micro influencers and also doing Washington Wednesday, which is our content.

We do weekly lives when I would do daily lives, but we used to weekly lives where we would show you how to get the best washing however on your hair. Um and it would be me and myself, myself and my husband and like a model and we would literally do their hair for an hour live and so we did that almost for three years now, wow, that's cool. I love that in our holy moly. That's cool. Thank you. That's the continent piece. We actually have a like a salon and are off. Love that and that is where we like do the hair, That's clever, very clever. Thank you. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What have you been reading or listening to or newsletters that you subscribe to to get smarter? I actually have coaches, business coaches, I have about four different people. Tell me what to do all the time. Um, I know sometimes we think entrepreneurship is an escape from management and honestly it's not like you get way less managed if you just work a regular job, I have a business coach, my advisor Gilbert, I still meet with a monthly for an hour and I literally have to like lay my soul bare, essentially said, I like here all of my numbers here is how we performed this month.

Here are the issues that I'm having here is who quit. Here's what he did fire here is you know, this initiative didn't make us money. I lost $2000 and I lost $100,000 on this. Like, you know, and then getting their feedback and letting someone else into my business, most of us are well, like you were saying earlier, we have a hard time talking about money. So most of us are not going to show other people like this is all I've got and this is where it is, give me your feedback that is going to get you where you want to be much faster, You can read books, I've been reading story brand lately, um I forget the author, story brand positioning influenced by robert johnson, these are all excellent and core marketing books that I think you have to have to know and understand if you really want to be successful, especially in the beginning, if you're gonna do a product based business because it is marketing, that is what it is, you know, you have to do an expert at that, it was just some tips if you want to learn, but I also would say hire coach mm where did you find your other coaches? Aside from Gilbert, where do you look for a coach? You want to networking events and finding people that were like kind of in the know or whatever and they kind of reach out and say, hey, I thought you were asking these questions at this event on stage, you know, I do X Lines, I think I can really help you.

That was one of my coaches, another one I joined a mastermind on Facebook Um this is a Facebook group but it's a paid mastermind and so there are like a bunch of other entrepreneurs and they're making anywhere, from you know 5-7 figures and there's different cohorts and went up and so that's where I found two of my coaches and then Gilbert again, networking and backstage capital and that's how I found him. So really like putting myself out there, talking to people, telling them about my idea is not being afraid to speak and not being afraid to talk about my numbers. Um, I think that's got me really far. I love that. I love that for you. Question number four is, how do you win the day? And that's around your am or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated. Um, I love a cup of coffee black or like just a little bit of cream. Uh, it's my first thing. My second thing is I live calendar. Yes. Um, what I'll do though is I'll take my, I have my meetings, but I'll take my to do list and now and start the task itself into the calendar. So it's not like I have a calendar in my dudes over here. It's like I have a calendar, I take my to do list and I put it on my calendar.

So I think it'll take me an hour or whatever and I always go back and adjust the time for how long it actually took me. So if I'm eating right over 15 minutes or 30 minutes, I adjust it because I want to be able to go back in a month and say, how did I spend my time? Thank you, thank you. And so, and that's important to me because sometimes if I spend my whole time doing something that someone else could do, then like I probably dropped the ball and maybe fundraising or dropped the ball on like Talking to the bank about something or like making budget cuts or something that like only I can do, you know, and that's the biggest thing that I told you, like trying to get 10 million is about processes. So I have to create processes for things that I don't have to have, someone else can do in place with me, not because it's beneath me, because not because of that at all, but because I have to make harder decisions that I'm avoiding because I want to re answer my email, you know, of course. So I win the day by maybe doing three main things on my to do list that happened to be on my calendar. Great approach. Love it. Question number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, how would you spend it?

Who has a good question. I would not spend it on ads. So I'll say that if you're $1,000 left If I had $1,000 left in my bank account and I needed to make money, I would pay 100 to 10 different people to create content for me that I would then post on social media, ideally facebook and then I would tag the product in that post and then I have two pieces of content. And if I only have 10 and I don't have a month, I'll spread out over three, you know, 30 days or I was like trying to get back to back. That is how I think I would spend it and then after I got the sales from those things and I'm gonna go make whatever I was going to make nice, love it, love it, it's facebook too. And I love that you didn't go straight to ads. Obviously that can be a quick one, Last Question Question # six. How do you deal with failure? Every time I fail? The bigger the failure, the easier the next one is. So I think, you know, I think every time I have something that crisis that happens, I'm always kind of like, oh my gosh is the worst thing ever.

And then three months later, something even worse than that happens. Um and so it gives me a new level of bottom every time. And so every time I have a new level of like bottom the like the small, like losses are like nothing. They're like, oh whatever, like that's not a big deal, you know? So I used to be like, well let me say, well what kind of like really stressed me out before I was switching at companies and they were like, I was struggling because they were like sucking and it was during the time that the election was happening in the beginning of it. And so basically performance on ads on social media is just all bad during election season. And so I was like really sad and I feel like I was like feeling like I was like I'm not getting, you know, I'm not able to do my job freaking out crying. And then you know recently like someone that I really liked working here like told me they were going to quit and then like that's way bigger than like the loss of the ads, you know? So then it's just like there's always something, you know, there's always something um and they're not quitting because they hated it. They love it here, They're quitting because they want to start their own business.

So you know, it's the other thing is like I think there is, it's tough, it's really hard and everyone's so inspired by social but I think there's a lot of stress and difficult decisions that come and start your own business that people will never truly know until they do it and they'll be like, oh my gosh, like everyone else is out here acting like it is the bee's knees and like it isn't it amazing what you're able to do. And I love it. But it's hard as hell. Hard as hell. It is hard as hell. Holy moly what a journey kim thank you so much For taking the time to join us today and share your inspiring story and how far you've come since 20 15. Holy moly, thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you And how is happy to be here. This is so much fun. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you want to hear more, head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders like Erica from fluffy beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bum.

And if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly subscribe to the female startup club podcast. Mm Yeah.

From a near closure to $6M+ annual revenue in 2 short years, here’s how CurlMix Founder Kim Lewis did it
From a near closure to $6M+ annual revenue in 2 short years, here’s how CurlMix Founder Kim Lewis did it
replay_10 forward_10
1.0x