You may know Leila Noelliste from her popular blog, Black Girl With Long Hair.
The blogger turned Businesswoman recently launched BGLH Marketplace, a storefront extension of her 3 year old whipped butter brand that offers handmade shea, mango and cocoa butter in more than 20 all-natural scents.
Let’s find out more about Leila and her business.
SB: What inspired the creation of BGLH Marketplace?
LN: It was really by accident. Over the course of my beauty blogging career I noticed two things:
- Raw shea, cocoa and mango butter are miracle ingredients with incredible properties for hair, face and skin and
- My readers lacked consistent access to these ingredients.
So, I located a quality raw shea butter supplier, and started selling it off my website, mainly to help my readers out. I was planning to also sell products from both major and indie natural hair care companies, but that didn’t work out.
After a few months the raw shea butter was the only listing on the shop site and looked so lonely sitting there that I decided to start whipping it to create more options.
This sent me down a rabbit hole. I did months worth of research on how to whip shea butter and made dozens of batches that were too greasy or too hard or not scented enough.
A few months in, I got a good process down and noticed customers saying that my whipped butters were the best they ever tried.
My sales shot up and that’s when I knew I was on to something. But honestly, even with that success I didn’t understand *why* people loved my stuff so much.
As I’ve educated myself more on the American skincare industry I realize that many skin care products are not as impactful as they could and should be, because they contain so much filler as means to cut costs.
My butters contain 4 main ingredients that are all food-grade — shea, cocoa and/or mango butter, coconut oil, almond oil, and essential oil for fragrance.
That’s it! Every ingredient plays a part and has a powerful impact on hair, face and skin. We have so many customers who say our butters have relieved their eczema or psoriasis, or that they can apply it once and the moisture lasts for a day and a half.
And the bonus is that it’s a full body product! We also have customers who use it to lock moisture into their hair after washes, and soften their hair before styling.
Shea, cocoa and mango butter are just really incredible! I’m like a butter evangelist, lol!
SB: Has your blogging career benefitted you as an entrepreneur?
LN: Definitely. For the years I was blogging before I opened up BGLH Marketplace I was inadvertently learning the ins and outs of the industry (beauty, hair and skincare) I would eventually enter.
SB: Describe juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship.
LN: It is a definitely a challenge, especially because my children are so young. I’ve been self-employed since 2009, when I was 24 years old, so professionally this is the only life I really know.
I don’t have a choice but to juggle. I delegate a lot, and try to keep my schedule flexible (I work short hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.) When I am with my kids, I make sure we are having quality time that nourishes them.
SB: What has been the most challenging and the most gratifying thing about your entrepreneurial journey so far?
LN: The most challenging has been getting a handle on time and schedule. When I was in my 20’s, I was really into the ‘they sleep we grind’ mentality.
Now that I am a mother in my 30s, I’m realizing the importance of self-care and not having a crazy schedule. You can be ambitious and still get a full night of sleep.
The most gratifying thing is knowing that no one can take my job away from me and I can provide for myself. So far I’ve gone through two major life financial challenges — the recession and my divorce last year — and in both instances my businesses saw me through.
Owning a business is like making a daily investment. It definitely pays off in the long run.
SB: Where do you see BGLH Marketplace in 5 years?
LN: I would love for us to be on the road to being the next The Honest Company. I have a passion for simple, natural ingredients and I want to create a line of beauty and lifestyle products that are healthy and effective.
Hopefully the butters are just the start. I would also love for us to open a second location in New York.
SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
LN: Jump in. I come across so many people with great business ideas who are afraid to get started. You never know if and how something will work until you try. And even if it doesn’t work out, you have gained valuable insight. Failure is very educational. It teaches you a lot!
Visit BGL Marketplace here!
Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG: @thebusyafrican)