Not many people can manage to turn the pain of trauma into a foundation of success, but that’s precisely what Monique Rodriguez, the founder of Mielle Organics, did.
The brand, which started in 2014 as just a kitchen-based company, is now one of the fastest-growing organic hair brands on the market, boasting millions in revenue and being acquired by P&G in 2023.
So, how did she do it? Keep reading to learn more about Monique Rodriguez’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey.
From a Catastrophic Tragedy to a Global Venture
The birth of Mielle Organics was from a place of sorrow. In 2013, Rodriguez experienced the loss of her son, Milan, who passed just six months after his birth.
Looking for a space to distract herself from what was happening in her personal life, she went to Instagram, where she would share her homemade hair concoctions as she researched and shared haircare tips.
“It took something pretty traumatic to happen for me to realize what my true purpose and ultimate calling was,” Monique told CNBC Make It. “And that was in 2013, I suffered the loss of my son. I was eight months pregnant. It was a high-risk pregnancy and unfortunately, my son passed away as a result.”
She had no intention of starting her brand, but whenever she posted, people constantly asked her about her hair and the products she used. At some point, someone asked her if they could get her routine, and that was the first time she sold a bottle of it online. And Mielle Organics was born.
The business began to snowball as more people found the products helpful, and demand spiked.
The Shift From Healthcare to a Beauty Startup
Monique didn't magic her way into haircare. She’s a trained and certified nurse and served for eight years as a healthcare professional before resigning the same day she launched Mielle Organics.
Throughout her healthcare service, she always had a passion for hair and beauty and constantly researched various haircare ingredients. She actively sought healthy products and learned about organic ingredients and natural preservatives since she felt that’s what works better for both the hair and the skin.
“[In hindsight], a lot of my experience came from ‘doing’ — but in the beginning, I listened to a lot of podcasts, I read a lot of books, and I went to a lot of seminars that taught me how to brand and market,” she explained to Bustle. “I went to women empowerment events, and any kind of training or classes that talked about branding and marketing.”
Product Popularity and Expansion
Miella Organics' growth is closely linked to its education-first approach. With a medical background, Monique took it upon herself to educate her consumers on the importance of being mindful of whatever they use on their hair and skin. Taking advantage of the disconnect between most beauty brands and their customers, she formulated authentic connections with them based on offering personalized products.
This approach quickly set them apart from other competing brands. Holding their firm belief in natural and organic ingredients and enough research and results to back it up, most people couldn't resist the pride of being associated with the brand.
Commitment to Flexibility
One of the critical factors that has helped put Mielle Organics on the map is its quick response to consumer trends. They are always following their customers’ conversations, which dictates the innovations they commit to. For instance, Monique shared that as soon as discussions about the benefits of rice water started trending in beauty spaces, she dove straight into researching the process of formulating the ingredients.
In her research, she noticed there was no formulation readily available to help users get consistent results and save them hours of preparation. This realization led to the innovation of Mielle Organics Rice Water-Aloe Vera and Rice water formulations.
An Eye on the Community
Mielle Oganics’ influence goes beyond hair care. Rodriguez continuously seeks opportunities to give back to the community and impact more lives. Her collaboration with Rutgers University and Newark Business Hub to launch the Global Certificate Program has opened doors to mentor young girls and equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
She feels she didn't have enough support and exposure while building her brand, which could have hugely impacted its growth. Her brand now dedicates massive resources to inspiring the young generation, showing them the ins and outs of building a successful business. She is out there, making herself an example of what determination can build.
“It’s about igniting that flame in that little girl that’s sitting at home watching on social media [and seeing] Monique Rodriguez doing something historical, who’s breaking the glass ceiling, so she can come behind me and shatter the next glass ceiling, she told CNBC. “It’s my little girls that are at home watching their mom do historical things and making them believe that they can accomplish anything that they set their mind to.”
The Value of a Purpose-Driven Venture
Monique’s desire to share her knowledge with fellow women and help them achieve vibrant, healthy hair was enough to bring her brand to the top. Her commitment to organic products and helping her customers understand how they work has helped her forge genuine connections that have been key to her brand’s expansion.
She’s now reaping the rewards of her efforts to provide value to her products’ consumers.