Turning Curls Into Dollar Signs
By Dane Carlson on March 5, 2008 in Profiles
When moms Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber started NaturallyCurly.com in 1998, they had no idea that their concept of an online community for curlies would grow from a mere $500 investment into a million dollar enterprise.
NaturallyCurly.com informs, empowers and unites a community of people brought together by a common interest – curly hair – which often defines them in their everyday lives. Using a straightforward, informative approach, NaturallyCurly attracts educated, affluent and influential consumers, who have experienced both triumphs and challenges in their love/hate relationship with their locks.
Michelle – mom to Emma (age 7) and Gretchen – mom to Reece (age 7), and Caden and Mason (ages 6) started NaturallyCurly.com while working at the Austin-American Statesman. The two would spend days in the newsroom complaining about their curly hair and wondered why there was no online resource where women (and men) could go to address their curly hair needs. From there, NaturallyCurly.com was born.
It didn’t take long for advertisers (including Proctor & Gamble) to recognize the potential of the site and they approached Michelle and Gretchen and became one of their first advertisers.
Now NaturallyCurly generates most of its revenue from advertisers and CurlMart, its online boutique that sells a variety of haircare items and accessories ideal for curlies. It relies on marketing and public relations initiatives to attract visitors to the site.
Think you have what it takes to start your own business? Michelle and Gretchen offer the following tips for fellow mom-trepreneurs:
- Don’t quit your day job. NaturallyCurly originally started with an initial investment of $500. Michelle borrowed money from her father to help with public relations and website redesign. They kept their expenses low by working out of their homes. Both Michelle and Gretchen kept their day jobs for 7 years before quitting to do NaturallyCurly full time.
- Don’t listen to the naysayers. One person told Michelle they were limited themselves by just focusing on curly hair and should include all hair types. However, both women were very passionate about their idea and what the site should be and stuck to their guns.
- Employ other moms. NaturallyCurly presently employs 6 moms and more as contractors. They are very flexible with their mom employees because they know what it’s like to juggle kids with work.
- Make sure you have a support network. Find trusted friends and family members who can help out with the children. Make sure that you carve out time for your children and try to work as much as when they’re asleep. Whenever possible, try to involve your children with your business. Michelle and Gretchen’s children have all helped put stickers on bottles, rearrange shelves, etc. and they’ve gotten paid for their work! And above all: do it on your own terms.
- Don’t panic. After both women quit their day jobs at the newspaper, one of their largest advertisers told them they wouldn’t be renewing their contract. It was terrifying yet soon after they had a meeting with the founder of Paul Mitchell and decided to advertise on the site right on the spot!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Michelle and Gretchen both agree it’s often utterly overwhelming to juggle running a business with raising children. There aren’t enough hours in the day and you feel guilty devoting 40 hours a week to work. Take a day off to spend time with your kids or an extended vacation – after all, you are the boss!
By Jeanine Boiko for Business Opportunities Weblog.
Business Opportunities Weblog editor and publisher Dane Carlson
lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, just 15 miles from Yosemite National Park. He accidentally became a professional blogger in 2001
. He has added 12,203 posts to the site.
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