There are more than 2.4 million businesses owned and operated by Black women in America today. Forbes reports that as of 2018, the number of businesses owned by Black women ages 35 to 54 had actually increased by a whopping 164 percent between 2007 and 2018. As promising as those statistics are, Mahisha Dellinger, CEO and founder of Curls, says there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done to increase Black women’s representation and she’s more than ready to help with the crusade.
After the success of her reality show on OWN, Mind Your Business with Mahisha, Dellinger started the Black Girls Make Millions Academy in an effort to continue to help other women start and maintain successful businesses.
“After I wrapped my show on the OWN network, I wanted to continue to help more than just the eight ladies featured on the show and that’s how I birthed Black Girls Making Millions Academy,” said Dellinger in her interview with theGrio.
“I wanted to do exactly what we did for the women on my show on a larger scale, and have impact on the number of Black women succeeding in business. Our numbers are phenomenal. Black female based business are up 300 percent, yet only 4 percent of us make it to the million dollar mark. That is a huge gap to bridge and that is the purpose of this academy. I want to help build the resources, give the tools and the information needed to make it.”
Dellinger made her dream of one day owning a successful natural hair care line come true. Her product, CURLS, is now a requirement for so many women transitioning to or steadily rocking their natural hair. However, she’ll be the first to admit true success didn’t come overnight.
“Before you plunge knee-deep into a business, make sure you do your due diligence to see if what you do as a side-hustle can become an empire,” said Dellinger.
“Every business a person thinks up in their mind may not be a sustainable business, so the key thing is, before you plunge deep into that business, make sure you see if it will be a profitable, sustainable opportunity. Make sure you are in a space to bring something that is wanted, needed, and different.”
The Green Machine
To keep on top of her company, the entrepreneur has added a new collection to her product line that’s also available at Target. She has something for everyone, including those who are Vegan.
“I make sure that every single collection, product or anything I develop has a purpose. Every ingredient has a story behind it. Now, I have a vegan green line (The Green Collection) that is all about pure, simple, health.”
Dellinger’s other options include a cashmere and caviar line as well, which tout scientific data for it’s usefulness.
“It is about being unique, different and doing things that have never been done before. Forget shea butter and olive oil; we have seen that everywhere. I want to present items that have a unique story. That is how I keep above the fray. When I decided to do a vitamin, we created a liquid vitamin. Liquid absorption rates are much higher. I brought the difference by being different.”
A seat at the table
Now that she has her latest collection in stores, this boss chick is turning her attention to making sure other Black women gain a coveted seat at America’s business tables.
“We need to be able to be in those rooms were decision making is happening and where relationships are formed. We really need to have that information, the access, and the resources. We have the hardest time acquiring funding for our businesses, said Dellinger.
This June, the Black Girls Make Millions Academy will be open to women who just have a glimmer of an idea for their business and those who are already in the process of taking their companies to the next level; ultimately, there will be assistance for entrepreneurs of all levels.
“There a three different tracks for the academy including the startup, the come up, and the blow up. The ladies will be separated based on the tracks that they signed up for,” explains Dellinger.
The “startup” is for Black women who have a brand new company. The “come up” is for women who have a business, but they need help growing it. The third track is “the blowup,” which is for the ladies who are ready to pitch their business for funding to investors at the Academy.
Dellinger is not just offering advice to those who will attend her workshops this summer. She is providing the strategic steps and plan needed for success with recommendations to start small so that inevitable mistakes won’t take you completely out of the game.
“When I started my business, I thought I wanted to go large and just jump off into the retail landscape. Start small because you can make your mistakes on a smaller scale and it’s less expensive and less visible. You can learn as you grow and get a better understanding of the business world itself,” said Dellinger.
“Go small, get your feet wet, get know the industry; master your craft, your service, your product and then expand.”