It’s one thing to break into the beauty industry, but another thing to come in and shift it.
Founder and CEO Monique Rodriguez has built an empire within the space through Mielle Organics, an organic and natural haircare line created to produce healthier results for your hair. She is rightfully a pioneer in the haircare game, taking her line of products from being sold from her garage to barely staying on the shelves in giant retailers including Target, Walmart, CVS, and more.
“My kids have been able to witness their mother, a Black woman, have a dream and go from their kitchen to big-box retailers, something that has changed my family’s life and for me that’s fulfilling,” said Rodriguez in an interview with AfroTech.
To date, Mielle Organics is worth more than $100 million, drawing in a hefty $14 million in 2021, despite being in the midst of a pandemic. The company continues to soar to new heights with new products that keep the same energy that the company had when it was first launched, to provide natural, haircare options made to help all hair types grow and flourish.
On Being A Pioneer
“When I look at myself, I look at myself as someone who inspires and motivates others, especially women of color, to be the best version of themselves and to go after their dreams and to change the narrative for our community and to create generational wealth, so if that makes me a pioneer, I like to embrace it,” said Rodriguez. “But for me, it’s just my duty to show up and show out for my community so that I can be the example and lead by example to show other women entrepreneurs that they can have a dream and can accomplish anything that they set their mind to.”
As one out of only 93 Black women founders to secure $1 million in venture capital funding, Rodriguez understands the value that Mielle Organics brings to the table. What’s more, she says it switches the whole game up in terms of ownership and full control over the company she has built from the ground up.
“For us to secure an investment deal that was worth nine figures, it truly shows the value and it changes the narrative that we can control the trajectory of the future of our brands and although we’ve taken the investment, we still maintain majority ownership,” she explained. “Usually, with deals like this, you don’t maintain ownership. So, it shows that we have value that we can bring to the table.”
She continued: “We have private equity firms that are invested in us because of the great businesses that we build, but we just need the level of access and resources so that we can truly scale our vision and take our dreams to the next level.”
If It Isn't Broke, Don't Try To Fix It
Oftentimes, investors will make minority-owned companies feel as though they need to go back to the drawing board once they receive the funds they’ve been looking for, Rodriguez explains how this is hardly ever the case.
“I’m able to do it my way because I maintain the majority ownership. I’ve built my company thus far to where it is,” she shared. “If it’s not broke, you don’t have to fix it and so I just wanted help accessing resources to really take my brand globally and for us to do something so historic, it sets the tone for the next Black woman that’s sitting at the table of a private equity firm. She can demand more because of what Mielle has been able to accomplish.”
Now That The Bag’s Secured, What’s Next?
As previously reported by AfroTech, in 2021 Mielle inked a significant investment — led by Berkshire Partners — which has been able to take the brand to a new level.
As a result, the latest Sea Moss collection within the company took flight.
“As we promised, with the investment that we received from Berkshire, it was going to give us the opportunity to innovate faster, to innovate with higher quality ingredients to find different sourcing, differing packaging and to be able to meet the needs of our consumers that are continually changing,” Rodriguez expressed. “You know with multicultural hair, our hair changes with the season and we have different needs. Like during the winter, our hair tends to shed more. So, I had this idea during COVID to utilize sea moss because I saw that it was trending for the immune system.”
After further research, Rodriguez began to work with the team to concoct a collection that focused on anti-shedding properties with a goal to launch during the winter.
“I wanted it to come out this winter. So, with that partnership, we had the ability to scale our innovation efforts quickly from idea to fruition, and because of their support and of course the funding, we were able to go to market faster with the Sea Moss collection,” she recalled.
To look ahead, one must embrace the past, which is no problem for Rodriguez, who says that she would tell her younger self “that the sky is not the limit.”
“The only limits are the ones that you set on yourself,” she continued.
As she looks ahead she would also tell herself that “you can dream big, work hard, and manifest your future and everything that you put out there, positively, will come to fruition. So, just stay prayerful, always seek God first, and meditate on the good things and what you want for your life because you are a co-creator with God.”