For Julissa Prado, starting a business was a childhood dream - and an act of serving her community. Growing up the Los Angeles native played with natural ingredients, creating concoctions for managing her curly hair and sharing her mixtures with other women in her neighborhood. Years later her company Rizos Curls launched in 2017, urgently addressing the hair care needs of women in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
“I love to always say that a business is simply a solution to a problem,” said Julissa during our interview last week. “Rizos Curls was literally my solution to my own personal problem of not knowing what products to use to style my own hair.”
Today Rizos Curls can be found on shelves at Target, Ulta Beauty, and Walmart in 57 countries, generating $1 million within its first year.
We connected with the entrepreneur and beauty influencer during a live event, where she shared how she built a thriving beauty brand while balancing a successful corporate career and how her Latina heritage serves her every step of the way.
Check out the full replay and read some of the gems she shared below.
Julissa: “From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to be self-funded. And I knew that I didn't want to take outside investment, so I understood that my job, a nine to five, was very important to almost be my investor... I decided to move back in with my parents. It allowed me to save money from my own earnings and be able to invest that into my business.”
Julissa: “An exercise that I like to do is actually make a character profile for this target, demographic person and think of them as a single person. That for me has given a clear path on the type of marketing initiatives and marketing strategies that I want to do once I have a very clear focus on who it is that I'm serving. Also, the bigger the demographic, and the less focused you are, the more marketing money you need to reach them.”
Julissa: “We have had to be very transparent and very honest with a lot of these retail partners. We can't be compared apples to apples to some of these huge beauty conglomerates that have millions, if not billions, of dollars for all of these marketing campaigns. (We figure) out numbers that make sense for both of us because we are self-funded. I think that sometimes in business you almost get discouraged to be that transparent and that honest. And, for me, we question everything. I'd be like, ‘Actually, this doesn't work for us.”’
Julissa: “I knew that what I was trying to build was something very new. I didn't want to adhere to any conventional corporate norms. I didn't want to adhere to anybody else's ideas of how to run a business. I wanted to prove that you could build a socially conscious, sustainable, profitable, diverse, self-funded, completely Latina-owned business with a lot of ethics and all of these values that are very important to me with good work-life balance.”
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