The first and only African-American so far to hold a patent for a natural hair care product is Detroit native Gwen Jimmere. She wanted to create a solution for black women that would reduce the amount of time they spent washing and conditioning their hair. Not only that, she wanted it to contain natural ingredients. While she experimented with products at home, two life-changing events were her inspiration to become an entrepreneur.
Experimenting at home
While Jimmere was recuperating at home after the birth of her son, she tried many formulas in her own kitchen. Although her formulas were natural, unlike many hair products on the market that contain chemicals, it was costly. By the time her son was two, she found herself laid off from her job and going through a divorce. Rather than cry over spilled milk, she used this to motivate the production of her new line of hair products.
Going after the patent
The next step was to patent her product, but patent attorneys charge anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, which she could not afford. It took her 8 months, but she did it herself by going to the library and the patent and trademark office in Detroit to teach herself patent law. Then she applied for her patent. Fifteen months later, she received it.
Her company, Naturalicious, produces hair products such as the Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment, and within two years has become a seven-figure company. But there's more. Jimmere also co-founded the company Pitch Proof that teaches entrepreneurs how to grow their business without piling up debt. In 2014, Jimmere won the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Contest.