How did you come up with the concept for your company, Urban Hydration?
I remember years ago; I’d use pantry items to relieve my personal care issues. Having dry skin and hair as a kid also helped me be inquisitive about more people like me that too may suffer with allergies and eczema. I came from very humble beginnings, raised by my great aunt, and a lot of community-based groups, I didn’t have much so I’ve always learned to care about the value of a dollar and giving back. Right about year 11 of working at Whirlpool, I was sitting as a board member for a non-profit that needed help designing personal care items for a fundraiser. With that, my love for beauty was erected! A year later I found myself pitching what I had later crafted into Urban Hydration, the number one natural care brand for dry skin and hair, to a mass retailer.
How important is having clean water and what made you decide to donate towards that issue?
When I realize that kids in Kenya were not drinking water because their tank was stolen and that we could have a hand in making life easier for them – I was all in. Giving back is not just about giving to a sole source either. I learned that months later the kids were selling the water to the newly grown community and raised enough money to build 2 additional schools. I get chills when I get to be a part of something bigger like that. The fact that Urban Hydration partners me with so many other people around the country and world to do good is simply brilliant.
What do you think is the most important aspect of entrepreneurship that helps you succeed with your endeavors?
When we realize our own personal giftings and use them for the betterment of ourselves and mankind, doors and windows seem to just open in our favor. I’d say additionally, women, when we get there – to that place we’ve been striving to get to when the door is finally opened, put your shoe in the door and hold it open for another woman.
What makes your product innovative and how do you decide what goes into your products?
Our Urban Hydration products are trailblazers in natural oil, plant-based ingredient bath and body care at affordable prices. When doctors would tell me the cost of over the counter creams and oils I needed to put on my skin to combat its dryness I was sad that the items were usually not natural, didn’t look good, and were overpriced. I wasn’t going for innovation initially; I was going for being fair with consumers and having more transparency in pricing and costs to produce products. I like to eat natural foods without GMOs or pesticides, and I want my skincare and hair care to be just as natural. We take a holistic approach to deciding what goes into our products by way of what issues me and my friends want to resolve. I remember having a group of friends mentioning dry scalp was a concern. I quickly researched all the natural oils – recognizable and some not recognizable that could help combat the problem. That’s how we decided on Aloe – I had a friend from church tell me to drink aloe juice and put it on my baby’s eczema. I bought a full gallon of it and decided later if it’s good enough for me to do all of that with it – it deserves to be in an Urban Hydration product.
Where can we purchase the products and what are the future plans to help expand your business?
We love growing into new categories and proving to our very own family that a natural ingredient-based brand can brush your teeth, deodorize your house and your feet so who knows – the possibilities are endless. We believe in a healthier happier future and our goal is to provide the best and most honorable path getting there. Urban Hydration products are available at select Target, Sally Beauty, Walmart, Macy’s, JCPenney, CVS and HEB locations and online at www.urbanhydration.com.
What are some of the pitfalls you’ve overcome to successfully get your product to the consumers if any?
I can remember having a customer require products before our copacker could fill the order and having to open up a factory myself to fulfill the orders. It was about 75,000 units that were required to be shipped in 6 weeks. I was 8 months pregnant. My then co-packer told me to just drop it, that I should just give up. I remember looking that guy in his face and saying “looking like me, being young, being black, and being female, I can’t afford to quit.” I demanded they give me all the names and numbers of who they would have made our product through and with 1 employee we found people from church and other friends and family to help us pull it off. It took us 6 weeks longer than we expected but we pulled it off. My husband worked 3rd shift and I watched our then 2 additional kids at night and ran the morning and noon shifts while the kids were in school. I finally delivered the baby and named her Faith. We shipped out all 75,000 units to Target and other customers the following week. It was crazy.
What advice have you received in the course of your career, that has helped inspire you to flourish and that you would like to pass on to others?
I’ve learned a lot about integrity, honor and being respectful and respectable over my career and I suggest this to all people I mentor. What honor has done for me had allowed me to get the business – sometimes when I otherwise wouldn’t have. If I don’t know something, I say it. I promise to learn more or do what I have to do to get it figured out. If we are not meeting expectations of our customers, we make it right. It’s just a good business practice. It’s important to me to know who I am, what I stand for and why I am here in the marketplace. Knowing this allows me to not feel pressured by the big guys or by competitors that I may think are crushing it. My mental health stays in place and that is what counts to me. I think when we all step back and look at things as professionals – we are all here for a reason and that reason only. I can’t care about someone’s reason I have to care about why I’m here specially and crush that and that only. By being one of few with tons of member able integrity – I’ll stand out as one of the “Good Ones, even if I’m not a “Good ‘Ole” one.
Do you have any goals right now that you want to achieve in the near future?
I’ve got a pretty lofty goal ahead of me. I want to do more in philanthropy. I want to have built 10 clean drinking water wells in Kenya by the end of 2020.