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MONIQUE RODRIGUEZ PIONEERED A REVOLUTION IN HAIR CARE BY WORKING AND PRAYING HER WAY FROM NURSE TO CEO IN LESS THAN 6 YEARS.
By Kaitlyn Moore
It's true, we all have to start somewhere, but who would have thought that mixing ingredients in a kitchen would lead to purpose and a massive vision? We all know her for her long, healthy, simply to-die-for tresses and, of course, for her leading natural hair care brand, Mielle Organics. The down-to-earth, passionate, and stunning Monique Rodriguez has not only become a household name for curly girls worldwide, but she has shown the world what it looks like to be a woman of valor and influence while paving the way for other female entrepreneurs. Monique’s resilience shows us that no matter where you come from or what you go through, with a little faith, your wildest dreams are attainable..
With a lifestyle fueled by ambition that yet appears glamorous, Monique’s journey to success has not been without frustration, dedication, wins, and losses. Looking back at life before the brand, even as a little girl, Monique’s passion for hair care was always deeply rooted (pun intended). Monique worked as a registered nurse for 8.5 years while rocking unique hair styles and experimenting with different ingredients for hair products. In 2014, Monique shook the hair industry when she started Mielle Organics; however, it was an unexpected tragedy that led her to take that step: I actually started Mielle after going through a very tragic experience. In 2013, I was pregnant with my son and unfortunately, I had a uterine rupture and he passed away from that. Going through something that tragic, really made me seek God on what He was trying to show me. I felt that God was trying to get us to understand that we can’t figure this life out on our own. We realized the importance of having God at the center of our lives. At that time, I believed in God, but I didn’t have a relationship with him. Once my husband and I got saved at church, we decided to submit our lives to God, and that’s when things started to shift for us. Unfortunately, it took something that tragic to happen for us to understand God’s love, but it also helped me find my purpose.
Hair care wasn’t the first business venture that Monique pursued-
she found herself attempting several paths in order to find her calling; from direct sales, to starting a jewelry business, to trying to start a nursing agency: I was trying to figure myself out but none of those things worked. It wasn’t until I decided to submit myself to God, when I truly figured out what my purpose was and what I was called to do.
Oh, the great things that can happen when you follow God’s plan!
Monique authentically grew a profound following on social media posting videos of herself doing what she loved- making concoctions with natural ingredients for her hair and testing them right in her kitchen: I felt that it was my gift and something that I really educated myself a lot about. I started talking about my experiments on social media and educated women on different ingredients that they should and shouldn’t use. I utilized my nursing background to help me provide beneficial information, and people trusted the fact that I understood ingredients. Also, people saw that my hair didn’t fall out when I personally used what I was mixing. Then, women began to constantly tell me that they loved my recipes but they didn’t have the time to actually make the products on their own. They would ask to just purchase the products from me. And, that’s when the light bulb went off! I believe that God uses us all as vessels here on this earth but sometimes we ignore it because we’re busy and don’t take the time to be still and pay attention. I felt that He was using these women who were sending me messages to show me that this was what I was supposed to be doing. To inspire and impact women but to do it from a beauty perspective.
With a mission that’s remained the same since the birth of her brand, Monique most recently added “mentor” to her repertoire. Inspiring and educating women through podcasts, mentorship programs, and excursions, The Secret Sauce to Success is Monique’s latest project. With aspiring entrepreneurs flooding her inbox with questions, Monique decided to start a podcast that would provide guidance and some of the tools they would need to start a brand. There’s a lot of women that just don’t know how to start. So, the purpose of putting a podcast together was to help them with just that. The podcast, then, went into a mentorship program where I did one-on-one sessions with mentees last year. Soon after, I figured out a way to have women come together so that I could teach them as a whole, and that’s when I decided to do a retreat. When I go away on retreats I come back with so much clarity and refreshed with new ideas. I wanted to give women that same opportunity with other, amazing women pouring into them, including myself, to help them with clarification on their purpose and goals. This year’s retreat will be in Cancun, Mexico! It will be a small, intimate retreat so that everyone can get their individual time and won’t feel like they have to fight through the hustle and bustle to get information. I’m really looking forward to it!
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we can’t dismiss the fact that Monique made (and is still making) history.
Monique worked her way into the hearts and hair women all over the world, and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon!As she celebrates the 6th year anniversary of Mielle Organics in May 2020, Monique has had many extraordinary accomplishments: One of [Mielle's] biggest successes was when we went into major retail. It was crazy to have a major retailer like Sally’s calling us, asking to meet with them, and then accepting us into their stores. Initially, they tested our products in about 95 stores. The demand for the brand grew so fast that we went from 95 stores to 3000 stores chainwide in less than six months. That has never happened to a new brand being in business for only a year so that was a huge highlight for us. I’m definitely still working, and I’ve had major successes along the journey but I don’t want to get complacent and say that I’ve made it because I still have a lot of work to do!
With and Instagram bio that reads “God, Mom, Wife, CEO”, Monique makes it clear that second to God, her family is everything.
One of my biggest successes personally would be the births of my daughters. Both of my daughters were born on my birthday. There’s no greater gift than that. For them to see their mom being a wife and mother but not forgetting about her dream, shows them that anything is possible.
Cheers! To Womanhood! Q&A
Q: Do you feel that women have “made it” in entrepreneurship?
MR: I feel that the era of women as entrepreneurs is just getting started. In the next 20 years, I believe that women are going to be in positions that men want to be in, and it’s starting with us now. We’re changing the narrative that women don’t have to be stay-at-home moms, but we can actually be everything that we set our minds to. When I first started my business, my mom was very cautious and asked if I was sure that I wanted to quit nursing. I had to really step out on faith and see what happens when you follow your dreams. With my daughters coming up in this generation and seeing me live my dream, just gives them more fuel to follow their dreams. Us women, especially black women, are doing some amazing things and we’re just getting started.
Q: How do you celebrate your successes?
MR:That’s what I’m learning to do more of now. To celebrate the wins. When you’re always on the go, you don’t really stop to celebrate the small and big wins. So I am still learning to stop and celebrate even if it’s just going out to dinner.
Q: What do you think people should celebrate?
MR: I think we should celebrate kindness because we need more of it. There’s a lot of cruel people in this world. And we shouldn’t just celebrate it, we should actually be it.
Q: 3 Women You’re Celebrating This Month?
MR: Oprah, Michelle Obama, and myself.
Q: One product from Mielle Organics that you use daily?
MR: I use the rosemary growth oil every single day. If someone were to ask me what they need as a part of their daily regimen, it’s definitely this growth oil. Even if you have long hair, you should still want to retain the length, and dry scalp is very typical especially in the colder months. I’m always oiling my scalp and my edges with the growth oil because I tend to wear my hair up a lot and I don’t want to snatch my edges!
Q: How do you balance God, Family, business?
MR: I’ve learned to prioritize and it’s about being intentional. I really don’t think there’s any such thing as balance. You just really have to know what’s important and be able to prioritize your life. I get up every morning to read my Bible, I spend time with God, I go to church. I’m intentional about spending time with my kids. I'll put my phone down when I’m at home and listen to them. And being intentional about time management is key. I take the time to prioritize my week on Sunday and write everything down in my planner. Staying organized really helps me to balance my life.
Q: Self care routine?
MR: When I get a long break I like to watch reality shows. But I also like to go to the spa and get massages. Things that I enjoy doing are, for me, self-care. Me and my husband are so opposite because he doesn’t like sitting in the house. He is always on the go, so for me having a Friday Night where I can just go home and watch all these ratchet TV shows is my guilty pleasure.
Q: What is one ingredient to the Secret Sauce to Success?
Q: What goals do you have for 2020?
MR: One of my goals is to expand my base. There’s a lot of multicultural, Hispanic Latinas that have some of the same hair needs as Black women. So, to speak to them as well is one of my goals this year. A goal personally for myself is to do more speaking engagements. I feel that I have a great story that will inspire others to know that you don’t have to be rich or famous to start a company. I came from nothing and this is what God put on my heart. I feel that it’s my duty to bring people to His kingdom, so to really just spread that word more is one of my personal goals this year.
Q: What’s next for Mielle?
MR: I have a new collection coming out, the retreat is coming up, and we have a really special event that’s coming up that I’m really excited about, but can’t say what it is! If you are signed up for our emails and follow us on Instagram, then you won’t miss out on updates. We’re doing a lot of event activations this year. It’s all about getting in the community and connecting with the people that support us.
My mission is to educate, excite, and empower women about healthy hair by also curating great experiences. I strive to be a relatable CEO that is not just selling people products...but someone that also looks like them, has the same type of hair challenges, and someone who inspires and motivates our black women to just go after their dreams.
Monique’s dedication to her family, business, community, and her relationship with God is an inspiration to us all, and precisely displays why she is a distinguished woman. Let us celebrate her and all of her endeavors, as she continues to make her mark with authenticity and ambition.
Follow Monique on Instagram @exquisitemo
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