Locally owned detergent company initially struggled to be taken seriously

Channel 2 gets real about the struggles of opening a small business. A local firm wanted to sell laundry detergent and they had a good product, but channel 2′s Dave Huddleston reports how difficult it was for people to take them seriously, purportedly because of the color of their skin.

The prevailing thought was, “What do three African American men know about selling laundry detergent?” But they had a good product, developed by a Dow Chemical Company chemist. It turns out they had to go overseas to break into the market. Ali Muhammad said, “it was a lot of barriers, obstacles; it was like climbing a mountain.”

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Muhammad said that in 2011 banks were fine lending money to barbershops or restaurants, but laundry detergent to three African American men? They all passed. He said, “we learned from our mistakes and we kept moving.”

Friends and customers invested in the company. And business partner Malik Saleem had done previous work overseas. They went all the way to China for support. They were also able to buy different packaging and bottle shapes for pennies on the dollar. The business took off. Saleem said, “we ship all the way from Vermont, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, we ship all over the United States and outside the United States.”

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We were there as they packaged some of their multimillion dollar laundry detergent at the South Fulton County warehouse before it’s shipped across the world. Muhammad said, “we don’t run away from the obstacles no more.”

Saleem says he never imagine they would be this successful. He and Muhammad have some advice to anyone who wants to start a business. Saleem said, “Have confidence in yourself and have confidence. When you put out a product, put out the best product, don’t just put out a product to make a dollar.” Muhammad said, “You have to do something that is a passion that you love doing. If you love it it’s not work — like Malik say, it’s a labor of love.” If you’re interested in True products, their website is https://www.thetrueproducts.com

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