It's easy to find curl care products marketed for Black hair types. From box store shelves to small Etsy shops, there are tons of choices for all curly types. Kimberly and Tim Lewis became interested not only in the ingredients that go into curl care products, but also in serving their community. To meet those needs, they created Curlmix. This is how Curlmix created a $1 million dollar company. Their unique approach has carved them a big slice of a $1.1 billion annual business of catering to Black women and their natural curls.
How Curlmix Created A $1 Million Dollar Company
In its early days, Curlmix began as a DIY company. Kimberly and Tim would gather materials based upon their clients' needs and send it to them subscription box-style. Clients would concoct their own products at home with the ingredients. The company has since evolved. Clients can subscribe or can purchase pre-made curly hair products which are sent directly to their home.
Before beginning Curlmix, the Lewis' weren't new to the start up concept. After having won $100,00 on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Tim invested in their first business. While the niche social media business ultimately folded, it gave the pair the confidence and experience needed to launch Curlmix.
Despite a warm reception from clients, who could interact with the company via social media, sales were sluggish at best. When the company saw no growth, Kimberly and Tim considered shuttering the business. While clients enjoyed the concept, they were finding it was too burdensome to mix the products themselves. Kimberly found herself frustrated when she tried to approach mass marketers to create delicate concoctions, such as flaxseed gel. General manufacturing facilities turned her down. However, some sage advice from her business advisor helped persuade Kimberly to make a change which would help save CurlMix.
Making a change
Once she decided to follow her advisor's advice and make her own products for her clients, things began to fall into place for Kimberly. There was a clear market for those seeking flaxseed gel, which gives great definition and shine, and no one offering it at the volume consumers required. Kimberly began slowly purchasing equipment, and researching the science behind the creation of cosmetic products. With Tim's support, they began teaching themselves how to create the products their clients were seeking.
Growing the business
One of the challenges the Lewis' faced was keeping up with a rapidly growing business. After making $3,000 from the business in January, the company's profits grow to $30,000 within 3 months. They realized they'd outgrown their home, which was serving as their production kitchen and business offices. As a result, they were able to secure a low rent spot with the Industrial Council of Northwest Chicago, which provides low rent spaces with room for expansion for manufacturing start ups.
After an appearance on “Shark Tank”, Kimberly realized their business was no longer in the red. While they didn't like the offer made by the investors, they realized during the days leading up to their appearance the company was well on its way to hitting the $1 million dollar sales mark. They turned down the offer from Shark Tank. Instead, they received an investment of $25,000 from Backstage Capital.
The future of Curlmix
As a result, they made the changes they desired in their company. This was soon followed by an investment of $200,000 by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. With the continued investment and smart business planning, the Lewis' next goal is to take Curlmix to the 1 billion dollar mark. We can't wait to see what's next for these amazing entrepreneurs.
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