Mahisha Dellinger founder of CURLS is changing the narrative around Black haircare
MAHISHA DELLINGER: We will continue to set the trends and keep on pace with what we as Black women are doing. We know before they know.
TATIANA PILE: Hello, everyone. My name is Tatiana Pile. And I am so excited to talk about all things beauty inside and out. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with a natural hair care pioneer. Mahisha Dellinger is the founder and CEO of CURLS beauty brands. Self-made doesn't even begin to describe Mahisha. As one of the first Black hair brands in any major retailer, she helped ignite a movement and became a force to reckon with.
What particular moment in your life sparked your interest in hair care?
MAHISHA DELLINGER: Well, I was working at Intel Corporation. But I actually was on a path with this racist manager being laid off. Despite having great performance, I saw the writing on the wall. I was a young mother, single, and I did not-- could not afford to not work. So that's when I started to explore how I could find ways to make money on my destiny.
I had just went back to my natural texture. But there weren't a lot of options in the marketplace. So I decided to explore that as a business while still working. And then I left and continued to work on my business.
TATIANA PILE: How did you maintain just keeping faith in knowing that this product is going to be the success that it has become?
MAHISHA DELLINGER: That whole launch into Target was definitely the stamp of approval that I got. And that's how I knew I was onto something. And the other retailers hadn't even batted a eye at it at the beginning until they saw success. So then we started to fill the category. So now it's really grown.
TATIANA PILE: You've seen both sides of the beauty industry and seen how far it's come, especially when we talk about natural hair care for Black women. How was your experience with hair growing up? And how did that influence your brand?
MAHISHA DELLINGER: My hair experience growing up was a bit rocky. And I had a love affair at one point, and then I hated it, and then I loved it again. My shift from love, hate, love, it was infused back into my brand to help people along their journey to just love, love, love. I didn't want anyone to feel like they had to change who they were. And so I need to give the tools so they can do that.
TATIANA PILE: It's good to have people who look like me being the ones who are actually making the products that I use daily.
MAHISHA DELLINGER: Right.
TATIANA PILE: What sets you apart? And how do you make sure that your brand continues to stay relevant?
MAHISHA DELLINGER: It's important to make your mark and know what your position is. For us, we're sick of seeing coconut oil shea butter olive oil all the time. And it's just overdone in our category. We always formulate not only the clean stance of no silicones, parabens, sulfates. But we also formulate with ingredients with a clinical story that haven't been used before in our category that have a great performance. And it's always different and unique.
TATIANA PILE: Which products from your newer lines or your older lines would you suggest for people who are learning the basics for proper hair care maintenance?
MAHISHA DELLINGER: Cashmere and caviar in a line is all about strengthening and silkening and protecting hair. You've never seen that in our category. And in Blueberry Bliss CURL collection. Blueberry extract repairs damaged hair, prevents breakage, and encourages hair growth. Because when you're transitioning, you need to prevent the breakage between new growth and your straight hair.
So I think that's a great starter point for a transitioner.
TATIANA PILE: To wrap this up, I want to ask you one last question. And this is open to interpretation. My beauty is--
MAHISHA DELLINGER: My beauty is me. My beauty is brown. My beauty is bomb. I am a woman who have had every single obstacle stand against her, in front of her, around her. And so the fact that I made it through and still am standing, my beauty is bomb.