“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
The genius of Gwen Jimmere lives in every DreamchaseHER.
Gwen is the Founder of Naturalicious, a hair care system made specifically for natural hair, but before it all, she is a mother first- which is where her journey began.
Being a parent is not only one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences; it’s the toughest job on the planet. I commend mother’s who have the will and drive to achieve their dreams, despite the lack of time, and energy it takes to run a self-made business. As they say, favor fortunes the bold, and Gwen Jimmere took the risk that was worth it all.
Not long ago, Gwen was at one of the toughest points of her life. Struggling to make it through piles of bills post divorce, and raising a 2 year-old, Gwen did the only thing that was left to do. — She didn’t run away from her problems, she didn’t cry or complain, and she didn’t take the easy way out. — Instead, Gwen took her side hustle, walked into her local Whole Foods store with every ounce of courage, and pitched her heart out hoping for a blessing to end her struggles. 10 minutes into her pitch, The Whole Foods team loved her product and agreed to sell it in store! Talk about favor fortunes the bold ey?
She didn’t walk into Whole Foods equipped with fancy designed packaging, and a gimmic. She walked into that local food retailer with a single ounce of confidence, and a million dollar idea — Naturalicious
When you are passionate about your product, or service, others will become passionate too!
However, the blessings didn’t stop at the offices of Whole Foods. Thanks to her mother’s constant
nagging push, and annoying continuos reminder to apply for a U.S. Patent, Gwen is now the First Black woman to hold a U.S. Patent for a Natural Hair Care Product. — And who said this couldn’t be done?
She quotes in her interview with bougieblackgirl.com:
My patent is for our Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment — which is a product made from super moisturizing Rhassoul Clay that allows you to wash, condition, deep condition, and detangle, while doing the work of a leave-in conditioner all at one time. It’s a major time and money saver. It truly is incredible, and as you might imagine: it’s our best seller.
Receiving this patent is very exciting and such a win not just for me, but for black entrepreneurs and for us as women literally owning (the legal rights to) our beauty. I can’t help but think about the timeliness of it all with such a large lens being on cultural appropriation right now, and others stealing what we create. I’ve been getting calls and emails from people saying “I had no clue you could get a patent on natural hair products!” Of course it’s deeper than simply applying for a hair product parent. There was a very stringent process in which I had to prove I created this myself and that it’s a brand new concept that no one else in the world has ever done before. At the end of the day, instead of us complaining about others stealing (and profiting from) our beauty creations, trends and ideas, we can legally protect our inventions and keep the financial gain within our communities.
Gwen’s motivation and inspiration come from a well balanced, and supportive team. She acknowledges her son begin the drive that she needed, and her mom for being that motivational push. She also credits the honorable Madam CJ Walker, Sara Blakely (Founder of Spanx), and Lauren Maillian as the other superwomen that empower her to continue her journey.
As I reflect on Gwen’s story, I can’t help but to think back to when I was a young girl learning about Madam CJ Walker. I was completely intrigued by her brilliance, and resilience.
For those who don’t know — Madame CJ Walker was born a child of sharecroppers, who transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into one of the twentieth century’s most successful, self-made women entrepreneurs. She often quoted:
“I got my start by giving myself a start.”
Madam Walker founded her own business and began selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula, which she claimed had been revealed to her in a dream.
Madam Walker’s dream has inspired millions of women like Ms. Gwen Jimmere to follow theirs too.
In Gwen’s interview, she was asked about the Patent Process, and this is what she revealed:
Applying for the patent was super intimidating. It’s can be very difficult to go through the patent process, let alone to get one granted. In the 21st century, there aren’t a whole lot of literally brand new inventions being created; so they don’t just hand patents out. Many apply, but very few are granted. It’s also very scary because it’s expensive. Applying for a patent on your own can cost between $550 and $2000; using a patent attorney can cost upwards of $10,000 or more. (And get this: if you apply and don’t get the patent granted to you, you don’t get that money back! So yes, it is definitely something that should not be taken lightly). I went ahead and opted for the less expensive choice, but that also meant that I had no guidance, and it literally took me months just to finish the application. I have no legal background, so I was in this all on my own. I became best friends with the librarians near me because I spent so much time researching what I needed to do, how I needed to best present my invention, what to do if the Patent office initially denied me, etc. Once I applied, there was about a 15 month waiting period until I found out they were going to issue me the patent.
Long turn around, but totally worth the wait!! As you can see, — we all can make our ideas come to fruition, but what we do with that will reveal our true purpose and destiny.
Gwen also shared some pretty candid advice to other female entrepreneurs:
Go for it! As millionaire business coach Marshawn Evans says, “Waiting is not a wealth strategy”. There’s rarely going to be a perfect time or a perfect scenario to make your dream a reality. As an example, NATURALICIOUS was truly started out of necessity, as was its acceleration. I was laid off from my job just a month before my divorce was final. I had no money and suddenly no job. I had NATURALICIOUS as a side hustle at the time. I figured I could either cry about my situation, or I could make something happen because there was absolutely no Plan B. I had a then-2 year old to feed, and all the same bills I had before I got divorced. Plus my mortgage was due in 15 days. The only income source I had as an option was to make NATURALICIOUS work. I had heard there was a Whole Foods store opening near me. Although I was extremely scared they’d laugh me out of the building, I was in survival mode and figured the worst they could say was “no”. So I was able to set up a meeting with the powers that be and about 10 minutes into the meeting, they said they loved it and definitely wanted to bring it in. I was floored. I had no real sales at that time and my packaging was VERY basic back then. That was 2 years ago and we started in that one store. Now were are in several Whole Foods stores and we’re also distributed throughout Trinidad, Indonesia and we are in talks to move into South Africa. God is so good!
My point is that you have to simply decide. Make a concise decision, believe that you are worth it, and know that although there are going to be some low points, the high points will more than make up for it. Trust that God won’t bring you to it unless he’s prepared to bring you through it. You were never made to be mediocre. You were made to sparkle, so go out there and shine bring like a diamond, girl! There’s nothing like seeing your company grow and knowing you are at the helm of its success.
Lastly, Gwen Jimmere is also is the co-founder of Pitch Proof, where she coaches and trains entrepreneurs on how get to capital for their multimillion dollar ideas without going into debt by preparing for, entering and ultimately winning business pitch competitions and attracting equity investments.
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Connect with Gwen and the Naturalicious team!
Periscope: naturalicious — (psst. I hear she does a lot of live viewings which are pretty dope, so get on it!)