What started in one woman’s garage as an opportunity for her to educate others about hair care, became an empire that in just four short years has grown into a multi-million-dollar company. Mielle Organics founder and CEO, Monique Rodriguez, never imagined that after experiencing the loss of her son at six months , her hobby would grow into a world-renowned brand. One thing you can definitely take from her story is that storms doesn’t last forever . Yes, it might be hard, but not impossible if you believe .
Me: plays “When you believe“ from Whitney Houston feat. Mariah Carey*.
Monique took some time to chat with BLACK PEPPER about overcoming anxiety, the importance of faith and black lives matter.
BP : Have you always dreamt about being an entrepreneur?
MONIQUE: Growing up, I always knew I wanted to pursue something that was my passion but I never saw any one in entrepreneurship that looked like me. After working as a registered nurse for eight years, I realized that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t living in my purpose and I had this lingering desire to go back to my first love, beauty. I decided to take a leap of faith and begin Mielle Organics so that I could connect women through haircare, create products for women that look like me, and give my daughters someone to look up to in a position of ownership that looks like them.
BP: How did your faith help you?
MONIQUE: My faith helped me in a major way. After the loss of my son, I had to lean on God to get me through that difficult time and discover what my purpose truly was. After I developed that relationship and chose to align my life with his word and his plan for me, that allowed me to take a leap of faith and develop Mielle Organics. I never imagined that it would reach the level that we have grown to today and I feel like it’s thanks to God’s influence in my life.
BP: I read a quote someday that says “Passion is a love-hate relationship”, do you agree ? ( concerning your passion for entrepreneurship)
MONIQUE: In my eyes, I wouldn’t call my passion for the beauty industry a love-hate relationship. When you do something that you are passionate about, the stumbling blocks you might face are a part of the journey. Yes, pursuing your passions might bring about hard days, but in order to be successful you have to understand that there is a greater purpose to what you’re doing in the long run. I love what I do each and every day because being an entrepreneur gives me the freedom and flexibility I need to live my life to the fullest. So, even when I might have my dark moments in entrepreneurship, I see it as a part of the process for me.
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BP: Your husband helped you build Mielle Organics, he deserves a round of applause for that ! In your opinion What are the 3 qualities a man has to bring to the table to help build a legacy?
MONIQUE: One of the first qualities I feel that a man has to have is to be in alignment with God. When a man is in alignment with God, he can be in alignment with his partner. That man can also know that what he does with his wife is a team effort and not a competition. I find that because Melvin and I are aligned, we have the same vision and are able to build a successful legacy for our family because we can see the bigger picture. It’s important for a man to have this quality because he won’t just look at what’s right in front of him. He can look beyond and see what he and his wife can do to secure a foundation for the generations to come.
The second quality that a man should have is confidence. For me, it takes a lot of confidence in a man to really step back and let his wife be front and center without being intimidated by that. A man has to be confident in who their spouse is as a person and understand that their dynamic isn’t a traditional one. Women aren’t staying home to raise kids and on their backs all day anymore. We are no longer glued to the kitchen cooking and cleaning any more. Only a confident man can be sensitive to the times. As my husband always says, “For women, this is their time.” Because he’s a confident man, he’s able to understand that and help push me forward from behind the scenes. So many women are emerging from that role into the spotlight at this time and he’s all for that.
The third quality that I feel a man needs to have in order to build a legacy is the ability to have knowledge, research and overall be a wise person. In order to build and grow, a man needs to be able to recognize areas where he can improve in self development. If a man can work on self fulfillment within themselves, then they can help their spouse with that journey as well.
BP: Is there any childhood trauma you did heal, and if so what was the lesson?
MONIQUE: A major childhood trauma that I had to heal from was the fact that my dad was shot four times in the abdomen. As a child, not knowing if my father would live or die created a deep rooted case of anxiety within me. I became fearful and worrisome that the same would happen to me. As I got older, I learned how to overcome that anxiety. I also learned the importance of being careful about who I chose to surround myself with and the importance of not putting myself in positions where my life could be in danger. Some of that trauma has carried over into my adulthood that I still struggle with, but I have always reminded myself of the importance of God’s word. So, if anything or thought that I have in my life is not in alignment with his word, I have to dismiss and rebuke it.
BP: How important is building a legacy that serves the Black community ?
MONIQUE: As an advocate for the Black community, I’ve always held building legacies through entrepreneurship as one of the most important priorities. One of the major differences facing Black communities and other communities that have better access to resources and capital is equity. When you leave a legacy for the next generation, it gives them the space to grow to their greatest potential. It also gives them the ability to pay it forward. We can’t get ahead if every generation has to start from scratch like those before us, so the best way to uplift our own is to create opportunities for generational wealth.
BP: Black lives Matter is not a trend, but a ____ ( please finish the sentence & elaborate )
MONIQUE: Black Lives Matter is not a trend, but a manifestation of the Black voice that has been fighting for decades to have one truth heard. Black lives matter. We are campaigning that our lives matter because for 400+ years the world has navigated the existence of Black people as if our lives don’t matter. The Black community is present within the history and DNA of the world’s economy, society and infrastructure, but have been repeatedly disenfranchised. Black lives matter is a wake up call that things need to change if there will ever be true equality. That equality starts with real change, whether it’s in who we choose to represent us in government or where we exercise the power of the Black dollar.
BP: Why did you choose the beauty/ haircare industry?
MONIQUE: I chose the beauty and haircare industry for two reasons. The first was because I have always had a love for beauty. I have a background as a registered nurse, so research on the inner workings of what works for my hair type has always been in my DNA. The second was because at the start of my hair journey, I found it difficult to find products that worked for my hair type. After spending countless hours and dollars searching the cosmetics isles for products that didn’t work for my hair, I got curious. I researched who the founders of those products were and realized that none of them looked like me. I decided that if no one was going to create a product for me, I would make it for myself.
BP: The beauty/ haircare industry is worth billions, that means it is a saturated market. What are your secret sauces to dominate this industry?
MONIQUE: My secret sauce to dominating the beauty and haircare industry is honestly myself. Being authentic, genuine and knowing my purpose while staying in my lane is key. It also helps to understand that no one can operate and sell hair products like I can, nor can I operate and sell haircare products like someone else. Even with the concept of breaking into a saturated industry, I don’t subscribe to that mentality at all. I really don’t believe in saturated industries, because as long as you are operating in your gift, authentic, and in alignment with your purpose that God has for your life it doesn’t matter. There is always room for you because you know the identity of your brand, its characteristics and what makes your brand standout. Once you hit the pavement with that brand and refuse to be distracted by others, that focus will reap rewards that you never imagined. Mielle Organics is successful today because I am genuinely true to myself from head to toe and that resonates with my audience.
BP: What are your plans for the near future ? (Maybe a Mielle Organics Event in Germany in sight?)
MONIQUE : My plans for the near future include the expansion of Mielle Organics’ global footprint. We are continuing to expand into Europe, South Africa and Nigeria. We are also working to make a positive global impact through the #MoreThanAStrand beauty campaign. Through the #MoreThanAStrand campaign, Mielle Organics aims to truly empower women around the globe with the tools they need to strengthen the bond between mothers and daughters through haircare, provide access to education and make way for Black entrepreneurship. Of course our plan is to take this campaign global across the United States, the Caribbean and South Africa, but we have to watch how things will go with the current state of COVID-19 and everything that’s going on right now .
Keep up with Monique :
Mielle Organics : https://mielleorganics.com
Personal IG : https://instagram.com/exquisitemo?igshid=1aqvhfiprwb2q
The Secret Sauce Retreat :
Listen now on Spotify:
Preorder your print copy today ! (Limited edition, grab yours before it’s sold out)