All the Pretty Birds introduces ‘Our Hair, Don’t Care’, an installment series of women we love, sharing their personal beauty journeys. In this special interview, our Executive Editor, Milan Ball, sat down with TV Personality, Author, Founder and CEO of Curls Beauty Brands, Mahisha Dellinger. Follow along as we unpack her journey towards becoming a beauty industry leader in the world of haircare.
Meet Mahisha Dellinger, Trailblazer in Curl Care
As we build a bridge between Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we couldn’t leave you Pretty Birds hanging without a special feature on someone worth celebrating who straddles both worlds. Mahisha Dellinger is the definition of a powerhouse and implores there is plenty of success to go around. In her time on OWN Network as the host of ‘Mind Your Business with Mahisha’ the dynamic CEO helps female entrepreneurs take their small businesses to the next level.
Although Curls Beauty Brands is a household name in textured hair care today, it was once a small business too. In her television series, Mahisha Dellinger reflects on her own early days where there was no one in the space to guide her. The story of her rise to a widely successful enterprise is decorated with the testimonies of entrepreneurs in whom she mentors. In essence, Dellinger furthered her career while enhancing the careers of other women in the shoes that once belonged to her.
(Pictured: OWN Network promotion for Mind Your Business with Mahisha)
The Curly Hair Love Story: Brand Origin for the Books
Just as the texture of our hair varies in its beauty – the bend, sheen, and curl of our personal stories are beautifully textured as well. There is much to learn from the texture found in Mahisha’s narrative and how the ripples of time and realities of poverty forged a woman of resilience. In November of 2014 Dellinger published, “Against All Odds” detailing her experience ‘from the projects to the penthouse.’ It inspires us to persevere through the circumstances beyond our control.
One of the most significant components of Dellinger’s story, explores her lifelong relationship with her hair. The unfortunate truth is that as women of color, we often navigate a love and hate relationship with our hair. Despite this reality in Mahisha’s life, her response to her hair trials led many women to freedom in repairing what is often a tiresome journey.
Milan Ball: How did your relationship with your hair growing up lead to Curls?
Mahisha Dellinger: “For me so it was like, ‘I hate my hair – no, I love my hair.’ I hated my hair when I was a kid, preteen, and teen. It wasn’t until after high school where I rediscovered my curls. I was using all kinds of products. Every day was different. At the time, I didn’t have a great, consistent regimen that would give me amazing curls every day. When I decide I wanted to launch Curls Beauty Brands, I decided to make that my mission. I wanted to create a product you can rely on. That when you apply my product, you know you’re not only going to have beautiful curls, but you’re also going to do good by your curls.”
(Pictured: Curls Beauty Brands, Available at Target.com)
MB: As women, it often feels like we are juggling the world when it comes to career and family. How did your role as a mother and a wife play a part as you built your business?
MD: “I had my oldest daughter at the time, so it was stressful, but I had the full support of my husband. He is the reason why I was able to do, what I was able to do with Curls. Because, we had a lot to do and he was a real team member. I mean, Asian, straight hair, but Curls #1 guy. Sometimes he would answer the calls and advise customers on our hair products. He was a guy in the garage (our makeshift warehouse), packing orders. He learned so much along the way together. Ultimately, we reached a point where I just needed him to take over the house.
and let me take over and run and really grow the business, he kind of surprised me. There was support with no ego attached, where the months I had to dig into the business and he had to be totally. We had two kids back to back, fourteen months apart, but he just took over while I was knee deep and growing the business. I couldn’t have done it without him. And we just celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary, twenty years together.”
MB: You have been in this landscape for almost 20 years. You launched the company in 2002 when there were hardly any real options and grew until this point, where the demand for personalization in beauty is arguably the strongest it’s ever been. Can you recall an anecdote where you knew, this is exactly where I am supposed to be?
MD: “I think probably the time when we actually received our first award at retail. We got our our first pitch, we pitched Target and got into target and was on an end cap in 105 stores. That was a time where I felt my intuition was right. ‘I’m on the right track and what I’m doing is impactful.’ That moment was pivotal for so many reasons, it changed the entire growth trajectory. It really solidified my thoughts about how this is really a viable business.”
Excitement on the Horizon
In discussing the business of beauty, it is no secret that the industry is constantly evolving. There always appears to be new offerings on the market; trending ingredients brands are looking to ‘break the industry’. Indulging in the exhilaration of newness, I asked Mahisha what is exciting her at the moment. In reflecting on the pleasures of experimentation, here is our exchange:
MB: What is exciting you right now?
MD: “What gets me excited is all about creating and finding new creative ways to engage our customer. Much of that is amazing products, right? I’m always on the hunt. And this is probably the funnest part of my job; finding new, innovative, scientific, clinically-backed ingredients that haven’t been over done in our industry. Ingredients that I can play with; they’re like my toys!
For example, we launched The Hardest Working Collection late last year. That’s our collection; they are the hardest working products we can find that are beneficial for both skin and hair. That’s unique. I had a good time sourcing these super amazing products and had so much fun diving into that other sect of Curls Beauty Brands. One thing we’re playing with right now (which is going to be phenomenal) is a Sea Moss collection just for Ulta Beauty. There are amazing benefits for hair from the sheen, to strengthening, growth, and protection. This product exploration is the fun part. It’s the part that gets me up in the morning.”
(Pictured: The Hardest Working Collection, image courtesy of Mahisha Dellinger)
Pretty Birds, we are so happy to feature Mahisha Dellinger and share her abundant wisdom. On International Women’s Day, Mahisha will be joining our Editor-in-Chief Tamu McPherson, alongside friends of The Flock on Clubhouse. We invite you to join us, March 8th at 1PM EST for this special virtual event. Be sure to follow @tamumcpherson and @mogulmahisha on Clubhouse to receive a notification for the room!
All images courtesy of Mahisha Dellinger and Curls Beauty.