As a full-time nurse, Courtney Adeleye had no clue that her natural hair journey would turn into a full-fledged career.
After a bad coloring experience that damaged her hair, Adeleye began testing out natural hair products on the market but found nothing that actually nursed her tresses back to its healthy state.
Forced to experiment with different ingredients on her own, Adeleye started mixing her own haircare products in her kitchen and chronicled her journey on YouTube. Years later, the busy entrepreneur now has a solid line of haircare products, called the Mane Choice, which can be purchased online, in select Sally Beauty Supply Stores, Rite Aid Pharmacy stores, and soon Target.
BlackEnterprise.com: How did the Mane Choice get started?
Adeleye: Around seven years ago, I put a color in my hair and it changed the texture of my hair so I decided to lay off relaxers for a while and nurse my hair back to health. It turned into a hobby when I started looking at products and what it took to keep my hair healthy. I didn’t see anything on the market that worked with my hair so I started mixing things on my own and sharing my journey on YouTube. In a matter of a couple of years, I started having a bigger following and people were really interested in the actual product I was using. Women started writing in asking was I selling the product and I would say, “No, that’s not what I do. I’m a nurse.” So, I did one video showing how to mix up a deep conditioner and that video pretty much went viral. At the time, I said, ‘Well, I will mix up this product and sell it, but I still didn’t take it too seriously. I created a website and created a name. I got a label and bottled it up and said, ‘OK, it’s available.’ Pretty much that one product I sold turned into [more].
At what point did you decide to focus on Mane Choice full time?
I started in 2013. I was shipping out of my home and I thought I can be here for two years, but literally, I think they were going to put me out of my subdivision. We had 18-wheelers coming down the street. The post office came out and said I see you shipping out a mass volume and that’s not allowed in a residential area. So I was forced to get a warehouse and within two months I outgrew that warehouse.
What are some mistakes you made when first launching Mane Choice?
Previously, I had a photography studio and clothing store and those businesses were pretty successful, but didn’t start the right way because we would get a place where the rent was too expensive. So for this one, I literally said I was going to ship out of my house until I couldn’t ship anymore. This is really one of the only companies I started that kind of forced me into it. I didn’t plan on starting it and I still didn’t think it was going to take off like it did. I didn’t have a business plan or anything like that. What was most important to me was actually starting it the right way. I wanted to make sure I had a good website. I wanted to make sure the label was good enough. So I was shipping from my house, but no one ever knew it with the presentation of everything.
What makes Mane Choice different from other natural product lines?
One, I’ve been natural now for almost eight years, and I feel like I have eight years of hiccups, what do I need, what worked, and what didn’t work. I’ve used the products myself and if it doesn’t pass my hair, it does not go any further. So it has to have a purpose and it has to have dual function. It also has to promote health and growth. So even with our gel and edge control it grows your hair.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
I would definitely say take your time. I think launching something is where you have your biggest impact. If you have to take a step back and say, ‘I need a few more months to launch this,’ instead of doing something quick and not putting your best into it, then do it because I think presentation is everything. I know the product is one thing, but the presentation has to be there as well because you’re not just selling the product, you are also selling the experience.