From Eight Mile To Millionaire: How Following My Heart Led Me To Black Business Success
... I set out on my goal to create and provide high-quality, all-natural grooming products specially designed for men of color.
I grew up near Van Dyke and East Eight Mile in Detroit, Michigan. I was always driven to make more of my life and eventually be in the position to give back to my community. I earned a BS degree in Finance in Eastern Michigan University, an MBA from Wayne State University and an MS degree in Computer Science from Lawrence University.
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I then started my own software company in the 2000s. After selling that company, I focused on working in corporate America and soon realized I missed owning my own business. I knew I wanted to create another, but I wasn’t certain what I wanted the business to focus on. To help with the selection process, I reflected on my past experiences.
My job used to require me to travel frequently and I would often find it difficult to find grooming products for men of color in many areas. Experiencing this problem first-hand let me know there was a need and market for grooming products for men like me. From there the seed of Golden Grooming Company was planted. In 2015, I set out on my goal to create and provide high-quality, all-natural grooming products specially designed for men of color. It became a fully operational company in late 2017.
I was an IT executive, trained as a software engineer. I had no prior experience in the male grooming industry, but I knew if I put my mind to it, worked hard and studied the industry I would be able to meet my goals. I began with research. I paid a small fortune for a market research study done by one of the premier global market research firms. That knowledge, combined with what I learned from my family and friends, along with my own experiences, provided me with me with the data I needed to decide the first set of products Golden Grooming Company should offer.
Two of the three products offered by the Golden Grooming Company were originally made by hand in my kitchen. I tried them, as did my friends and family, and got the right mixture that we love and are proud to offer as our own. The body wash is the only product not originally made by us. We couldn’t get the formula right and it took a year for the professionals we hired to get it correct based on specifications we wanted.
Due to high demand, we quickly outgrew our kitchen and began looking for manufacturers. To find a lab we could trust we tried everything from Google searches to customer referrals and their credentials. We tried three different manufactures before finding one that could produce the same quality product I was making at home. It was important to me to maintain the quality of the brand by keeping our original ingredients. What you put on your skin is equally as important as what you put into your body. We take pride in providing quality products to our customers.
The Golden Grooming Company originally offered three products: an all-in-one beard, hair and body wash, beard balm, and body balm. Now, we're up to 10. And for the holiday season we've introduced three stunning gift boxes filled with our most popular products. All the products are all-natural, plant-based and formulated for the needs and wants of Black men and other men of color.
Continuing with our focus of keeping our community in mind, 5% of sales from Golden Grooming Company will be donated to HBCUs and programs that cultivate entrepreneurship in youth from underserved communities. As a company, we believe in giving back. It’s not just about doing things for yourself, it’s also important to help others and contribute to your community. This is just one way we think we can give back. Entrepreneurship is one path that can help kids becoming a productive, members in our community.
Entering the male grooming industry was challenging. However, I wasn’t intimidated because I’ve always believed I could do whatever I set my mind to achieve. Based on my past experiences with business ownership, I knew a new venture could be harder than I expected or perhaps take longer than I originally planned, but with hard work and determination, I almost always accomplish the goals I set for myself. That allowed me to look at starting this company as another goal to reach. The industry is tough so you must always be ready.
My advice to anyone starting their own business would be to know why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. Know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.