“I started the company purely out of necessity,” said Gwen Jimmere, founder and CEO of Naturalicious, an all-natural hair and beauty company.
A little over six years ago, Jimmere was pregnant with her son Caiden, all the while laid off from her corporate job as a Global Digital Marketing Director at Ford Motor Company and working through a divorce that diminished her bank account to only $32.
During that time, Jimmere had been experimenting with a new all natural hair care system and knew it was time to turn her hobby into a career.
Her inspiration for a healthy hair care product came from a film produced by comedian Chris Rock called “Good Hair,” a documentary discussing multicultural and diverse hair types and the challenges that multicultural women face concerning their hair care.
The movie inspired Jimmere to stop using hair relaxers, a harsh chemical used to straighten hair, and pursue a more natural and organic approach to beauty.
However, she found the market for healthy and natural hair care products (that actually worked!) to be non-existent.
“It was either they worked really great and they were full of chemicals, or they sucked really bad and they were natural and organic,” laughed Jimmere. “So I thought, ‘I’m just going to have to make it myself!’”
Jimmere raided her kitchen, believing if it’s edible, it should be good for your body. The result was a sulfate free, paraben free, mineral oil free, gluten free and cruelty free product that is all natural, organic and healthy.
“I came up with a really great hair system that worked great for my hair, but it was taking forever,” admits Jimmere. “I found that a lot of my friends, who are also multicultural women, were challenged with the same problem.”
Jimmere reveals that it typically takes six hours to wash and style hair, referring to the daylong endeavor as “wash day.”
She then created a three-step system that incorporated the work of 13 hair care products, called the Hello Gorgeous Hair Care System, cutting wash and style time from six hours to 30 minutes.
In 2015, Jimmere became the first African American woman to hold a patent for a natural hair care product.
“I never set out to be a hair product company owner,” Jimmere confessed. Having an undergraduate degree in computer science and masters in communication and marketing, Jimmere admits her only experience with chemistry was an 11th grade science class. “I was never that girl in school with the great hair. So for me to start this and have it be thriving is serendipitous.”
Along with her four dedicated employees, she completes production out of Ponyride, a collaborative incubator space for Detroit artists and entrepreneurs.
Through a partnership with Detroit-based nonprofit, Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), Naturalicious provides opportunities for men and women with special needs to work on the product line, bottling, labeling and preparing all the products for shipment.
“Differently-abled does not mean unable,” asserted Jimmere, assisting her employee with a Hello Gorgeous shipment.
Recently, Naturalicious just landed a distribution deal with the largest distributor of multicultural beauty products in the country, adding 2500 more to their long list of distributors, from Whole Foods and Trader Joes to independently owned beauty supply stores.