How Mahisha Dellinger channeled the struggles of her childhood into a seven-figure business

Stephen Nartey June 09, 2023
Mahisha is currently using her experience to assist other women entrepreneurs to scale the challenges she faced in starting her business. Photo credit: Curls

Everyone is wired differently; some are shaken by the difficulties and tragedies of life and sink into continuous despair, while others find inspiration in their challenges and experiences to change their prevailing reality. That is the story of the Chief Executive Officer of Curls, Mahisha Dellinger, whose firsthand truth of life was double jeopardy.

Raised in Meadowview, California, an environment where gang violence, drug racketeering, gun activity, and drive-by shootings were commonplace, the demands of life made it difficult for her mom, who was also a single mother, to navigate her daily activities and provide her children with proper guidance and grooming. This vacuum in her parenting compelled Mahisha’s brother to join a gang.

However, her family’s situation rather toughened her up. At the age of 7, she had to prepare her own breakfast, walk herself to school, and do her homework by herself. Amid the storm, she was left with a choice, either to take control of her life and improve it, or allow herself to be beaten down by the circumstances; she settled on the former.

Her first attempt at entrepreneurship was at an e-commerce site in 2002, and she was happy with the returns, according to the New York Times. With that glimpse of success, she was motivated to look out for other opportunities to improve her life, and later found an opportunity in a growing market for naturally curly hair.

Though she was earning good remuneration as a marketing manager at Intel, she resigned from her job to establish her own company, Curls. She had to bootstrap her business at the initial growth stages because banks will not offer her a loan. After all, she was black.

With little experience, she grew her brand into a six-figure company in two years, and by the fourth year of operation, her revenue inflow had hit the seven-figure mark. Today, Mahisha’s natural curly hair product is accessible in over 100,000 stores and the business has expanded its sales by 70 percent, according to Forbes.

The inspiration to start her company came along with her struggles as a new mother looking out for curly hair for herself. The available options were chemical relaxers and hair grease products which made her feel uncomfortable. However, with the help of a leading cosmetic chemist, she developed her curly haircare product to provide women who prefer natural hair with good options, and to also wear them with confidence.

The success of the brand is tied to its strategy to use uncommon ingredients in manufacturing its product. For example, while market leaders were offering shea butter, argan oil, and coconut water as ingredients, Curls settled on blueberries. Mahisha’s ingredients help with hair growth and protect against breakage, as well as hair damage.

She is currently using her experience to assist other women entrepreneurs to scale the challenges she faced in starting her business. Through her Black Girls Making Millions Academy, Mahisha hopes to help many women of color to make it to the million-dollar mark in their respective businesses.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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