Today on Friend Friday we’re talking with Gwen Jimmere, the founder of NATURALICIOUS, an incredibly innovative brand that’s taking the beauty industry by storm. Gwen’s mission is to give each customer the freedom to be beautiful, which we’ll learn more about below. While natural hair and body products are what she makes, the real thing she presents to customers is sublime—more passion, more freedom and more beauty. Let’s meet Gwen!
Tell us about your products.
Quite simply, we make the world’s first and only all-natural hair care system that does the work of 13 products in only 4 very easy-to-use steps. We save you over 80% of the time and over 60% of the money you typically spend for needed hair care products. All of our products are free of sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, petroletums, gluten and cruelty. And they’ve been tested and proven safe for everyone in the household: from adults, to kids and to babies.
How did you come up with your products?
I was pregnant while watching the documentary, Good Hair, starring Chris Rock. There was one scene that showed the chemicals used in some hair products actually melting an aluminum can within seconds. It freaked me out to think what this stuff was doing to my body, and my unborn son. It was then that I decided to stop using chemically-laden hair products.
Going “natural”, my hair got longer and stronger and I actually started to like my hair for the first time. At that time, I was looking for better products for my newly natural tresses; I wanted only the best and chemical-free products. I bought so-called natural products, but found out soon enough that they were not natural at all and were laden with all sorts of scary ingredients—some of which are known to cause breast cancer. So I decided to make my own natural products in my kitchen. It was great that I now had truly natural products, but I was spending practically all day on my hair every time I had to wash it.
Once my son was born, I quickly realized that babies don’t really care if you need 3-5 hours to deal with your hair. They want to play, eat, and do other baby stuff all on their time. I figured that I needed to condense “wash day” down to an hour or less, as that was how long my son’s naps lasted. This way I could complete my entire wash day during his nap, thereby making both him and my hair very happy.
We save customers over 80% of the time and over 60% of the money they usually spend on their hair care needs. And while we make hair products, what we really sell is freedom—the freedom to be beautiful. The freedom to not give up your time or spend your entire paycheck trying to look great. We save you time and money without sacrificing safe, healthy ingredients.
Why/how did you decide to make this into your business?
They always say that necessity is the mother of innovation–which was the case for me. I turned this into a business after I created it to fill a need that I had.
I started devoting real time to this “hobby” once I was laid off from my job and simultaneously going through a divorce. Because I was going through all of that, I only had $32 in the bank. I was pretty broke. But I decided to view this set back as a set up to turn my dream into reality. Nowadays, we’re two and a half years old and we’re in a number of Whole Foods stores, as well as other chains around the U.S. We’re also international with retailers in Trinidad, Bermuda, the Bahamas, South Asia and South Africa.
How did you know which ingredients would work well with each product and for a variety of hair types?
I grew up in a household where my mom was very knowledgeable about pretty much everything. My mom can make lotions and soaps, hang dry wall, reupholster chairs…you name it, she can do it. Growing up in that environment, I had an innate knowledge of how certain oils worked on the hair and skin.
Where /how can people get your products?
We can be found at www.naturalicious.net. Also at select retailers such as Whole Foods and a number of others. Check the Where to Buy link on our website for locations near you. By the way, we ship worldwide; there is not a city in the world that we don’t ship to.
What has been your biggest success with your business thus far?
Definitely having Entrepreneur Magazine write an article about me and my business has been huge. I am extremely proud to have had an entire spread written about me in that publication. I’ve read it every month without fail since the 9th grade and only dreamed of being on their pages. Another huge win was being invited to bring my product line to the White House.
What feedback do you receive on your products from customers?
We get lots of amazing reviews. But the greatest feedback comes from repeat customers. 64% of our customers are returning customers. Compare that with the average online retailer having a repeat customer rate of less than 30%. We have more than double the average repeat customer rate. That’s a true testament to how phenomenal our customers find our products. The most sincere form of feedback is if people are repeatedly buying again and again—it’s a telltale sign we’re doing something right, living up to our promises and continuously wowing our customers each time they experience the brand.
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to people who want to start their own businesses?
Some people say to be fearless. I think that’s unrealistic. Instead, I say, “Manage your fear, because fear is not bad.” Just as there is good bacteria and bad bacteria, there is good fear and bad fear. If fear is used for good, it can actually be quite motivating. If used for bad, it’s limiting. Remember the word “fear” stands for false evidence appearing real. It’s something we conceive in our heads. It’s not even real. Besides, I always say, that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. So use fear to motivate you to crush it rather than to stop you from being great.
What other business or passion projects are you working on?
I co-own another company called Pitch Proof. Through this company, we teach entrepreneurs how to get funding for their businesses without going into debt. We teach them how to successfully enter and win business pitch competitions and attract equity investments. I’m passionate about pitching, it’s an important art and skill to master. Studies show that most women and minority-owned businesses take on personal debt in order to start or grow their businesses. There are so many resources that literally give away money; there’s really no need to go into debt. But you have to know how to pitch your business and convince someone to believe in your idea so much that they’re willing to give you money to grow it. That’s where we come in. We have numerous clients on our roster who have gone on to win several pitch competitions. In March, my business partner and I will be speaking on the best practices for business pitching at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX.