Check our exclusive interview with gorgeous and successful entrepreneur Monique Rodriguez, CEO of Mielle Organics, the fastest growing natural hair care company. Rodriguez started the company in her garage and in only four short years, Mielle has come from the garage to the shelf and grown to become a multi-million-dollar company sold in over 15,000 major retailers.
Please tell us a little about you?
I was raised in Harvey, Illinois. My husband, Melvin is my high school sweetheart. I have two daughters, Mia and Mackenzie who were both born on my birthday, October 15th in 2005 and 2009. It wasn’t something that my husband and I planned, they both were born early; that’s the way God planned it. I love anything involving hair, beauty, and fashion.
What’s your background?
My background is in nursing. Before I started Mielle, I was a registered nurse for eight years.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, driven, passionate
How did you first launch your career?
I loved my career working as a nurse, but I did not feel fulfilled. I really liked the fact that I was able to help people. I’ve always been passionate about beauty and hair but doing something in that space professionally never crossed my mind. People were always asking me, “What is it that you do to your hair, how did you get your hair to grow”, and things of that nature. I was already playing and mixing things in my kitchen for my hair, but I never thought I could take that and actually sell it or help other people. I started posting homemade recipes that I used on my hair on social media, and people would actually try the things that I would post and give me a lot of great feedback. So, I just kept doing it and I kept being consistent. Then, I decided to take the additional steps to legitimize what I was doing because people were really liking what I was creating, and that’s how Mielle was birthed.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My two girls Mia and Mackenzie. They inspire me the most and they motivate me to keep going.
Now tell us about “Mielle Organics”?
I started Mielle Organics in 2014 out of my love for beauty and hair. I started with my husband in my basement. What a lot of people don’t know is Mielle was birth from a painful situation. In 2013, I was pregnant with my third child. It was a high-risk pregnancy, I had a uterine rupture and my son passed away. It was a very tragic time for me. I took that painful situation and instead of being down and depressed because I still have two girls that I needed to be sane for, I turned it into a positive and I found my purpose by going back to my passion for beauty and hair.
After experiencing the loss of my son and finding my purpose, I started educating women on social media about how to take care of their hair, how to grow healthier hair, and how to have longer hair. I turned to what I love to help divert my attention. I started with one product in 2014 and four years later, we have over 30 products in major retailers. It has truly been a blessing to share my gifts with the world.
Where the name comes from?
The whole reason behind me starting this business was to create something to pass down to my daughters. I wanted to set the example that as a woman, you can be an entrepreneur, you can be a wife and a mother; basically, you can do it all. My girls inspire me. I want to give them something that I didn’t have growing up and when they get older, they will know what the meaning and motivation behind the business was. So Mielle is a combination of their names. Mia’s middle name is Gabrielle and Mackenzie’s middle name is Arielle. They both have ‘E-L-L-E’ in their name. All of our names start with ‘M’ and being my daughters, they are both my-Elles so I combined the two and said Mielle and that’s how the name came to be.
What was the most challenging part of creating your own company?
The most challenging part of creating your own company is not having a blueprint to follow or having the knowledge and experience as a business owner. When I started out, I didn’t have a mentor or someone to talk to. My husband and I had to figure things out on our own. We’ve learned a lot over the past four years, and everything that we’ve learned has been self-taught.
What is different from “Mielle Organics” to other brands?
For Mielle, it’s not just about the products. Of course, we want to deliver great products to meet our customer needs, but we also want to deliver a great customer experience. It’s asking how does that product make the customer feel. Besides my creativity and experience as a nurse, asking myself what other value can I give my customers besides a great product – it’s about delivering a Brand experience. We pride ourselves on our ingredient story of having certified organic products. We believe that health is very important and with my background in health and science and being a nurse, that is what makes Mielle different. Being genuine and true to our customers and core and staying connected to them is also what makes Mielle different.
Where we can the products?
Our products are available on our website mielleorganics.com and in major retailers like Sally Beauty, Target, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and JC Penny.
What has been the hardest part of your career?
Handling the rapid growth that Mielle experienced during our first three years in operation. Having to figure things out on your own, you make mistakes. Every mistake I made only made me a stronger person, and I have surprised myself with what I am capable of accomplishing.
Who are some of your favorite models and designers, and why?
Favorite models – Eva Marcille and Naomi Campbell.
Favorite designers, Olivier Rousteing because he is so different and classy but fun.
What are your makeup bag staples when traveling?
Mascara, lip gloss, eyeliner, and highlighter
What are your future goals?
My future goal is to continue to grow and expand the Mielle Brand by introducing new products, listening to and satisfying the requests of our customers, and making our products available in more retail locations.
How’s your typical day?
I really don’t have a typical day. I travel a lot and there are times when I am traveling to multiple cities with back-to-back flights within the same week. When I am not traveling, I am in the office responding to emails, on conference calls, or meeting with my team to strategize. I am also very intentional about spending time with my girls and I try to be home for them when they get out of school. With the recent launch my custom fashion line, 1015Designs, I also spend time sketching and picking out fabric with my Mom.
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Going to Church with my Husband and girls, and spending quality family time together. Because I have a very busy schedule, my husband and I try to make Sunday family time.
Do you support any charities?
There isn’t one particular charity that I support. My husband and I created The Mielle Cares Foundation three years ago because we wanted to begin frequent initiatives to give back. Mielle Cares has grown over the past three years and we have helped several teenagers, women, families and community organizations. We have also honored individuals who are excelling and making an impact within their community.
Mielle has partnered with iGlow Mentoring to create The MiGlow Awards that recognizes teen girls who excel academically, exemplify extraordinary leadership skills, and show impressive involvement within their communities. Award winners will be announced at the 2018 MiGlow Awards Gala on December 15th and the winners will receive an all-expense paid 10-day educational trip to London.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Sean (Diddy) Combs and Oprah. Diddy because I love his drive, hunger, attitude for excellence and him always wanting to do well. His positivity and always talking about and exhibiting black excellence as well and bringing other black people up. Oprah because of her drive and determination. She is the only female African American Billionaire in the world – she had to have determination and drive to get to where she is. Obviously, she is very talented, but her hard work and persistence – she never gave up and she believed in herself. Starting out, she wasn’t the greatest journalist, but she outworked Phil Donahue and dominated journalism.
What is on your bucket list?
To go to Greece.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Salmon and vegetables.
And your favorite cheat food?
I don’t have a cheat food
What music do you like?
Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and the Weeknd
What quote do you live by?
It’s not necessarily a quote, but You’ve already got it! One of the things that I struggled with when I was younger was not being confident in myself and my ability. You are everything that you need to be! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. I tell my daughters that all the time. God gave you everything that you need, you just have to use it. You can do whatever you put your mind to.
How important is Social Media for you?
Social media is very important. That is how Mielle Organics was created. I started educating women on social media about how to take care of their hair, how to grow healthier hair, and how to have longer hair.
Where we can follow you?
IG: @exquisitemo; @mielleorganics; @1015designs
Favorite Food: Basil fried rice, hummus, asparagus
Travel destination: The Caribbean Islands
Sport Team: I’m not really into sports
Actor/Actress: Denzel Washington and Halle Berry
Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie