How One Woman Turned A Childhood Dream Into Reality
Natural hair expert and founder of Nourish and Love Co., Stephanie Ayler, grew up with a natural passion for hair and art. Since a very young age, she would spend her free time drawing and braiding hair. Stephanie even recalls getting in trouble in elementary school for braiding a classmates hair in class. Getting in trouble did not stop her love for hair. When Stephanie went on to high school, she began braiding hair as a side hustle. She would study the ingredients of hair products and become fascinated when she pieced together the connection of the same ingredients in different products.
Although she enjoyed hair, a part of Stephanie knew that she would end up pursuing a career in design, illustration, or animation. In 2008, Stephanie graduated with a BFA in Visual Communication and Art Design from Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA. She is now a successful small business owner specializing in natural hair products. Those years of studying product labels sparked an amazing dream and that dream is now her reality.
We were able to catch up with Stephanie for an exclusive interview. Keep reading
"Late Nights and Early Mornings"- Background of Nourish and Love, LLC.
On October 8, 2011, I started my company Nourish and Love, LLC. with a small blog. Prior to starting my business, I freelanced graphic design but everyone around me (friends, family, etc) encouraged me to create my own line of products. Nourish and Love has been a long labor of love that has evolved and been rebirthed a few times. It’s sat on the backburner, been ignored, and been promoted on a continuous cycle. It started before I combed out my locs that I had for six years in 2010. I was interested in using better products with better ingredients for my locs. So I started testing out new combinations of store bought products and different formulas that I created. After I removed my locs I was even more tuned into the products I used on my hair. I was heavily into YouTube at that time (the community was MUCH smaller though). I saw so many naturals whipping butters and creams, so I decided to try it myself. I was hooked after I made my first whipped butter. I then tried my hand at making a salve for my dog, he had a hot spot wound that wasn’t healing. To my own surprise and excitement, it completely healed the wound with consistent application. This success plus the whipped butter had me completely hooked. The feeling that I get when I uniquely formulate a product and that product solves a problem or need, whether it is on the skin or on your hair is unmatched. There’s no better feeling. This is what I was meant to do.
"Out of all of the rest, tell me why you’re the BEST"- What sets your brand and products apart?
What sets my products apart from other natural hair care products, is that not only am I producing a quality and well performing product, I am also empowering textured hair care. Black women have single-handedly shifted the hair care market focus. I still feel that the education part of hair care could be approached in a better way. Apart from delivering my products, I am delivering my knowledge and delivering my passion, which is for each person with a textured head of hair to truly understand their hair. Enriching and empowering minds while caring for crowns. Your hair is the crown you never take off. This is what sets me apart!
"Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Get Guap"- What is next for Nourish and Love, LLC.?
In the next five years, I see my products on shelves. I haven’t yet decided how I intend to expand and if I would rather small retail or large retail. My goal is to open a brick and mortar store where It would be a specialty store/workshop space. There is a definite void in the Richmond area for the type of store I envision and I can’t wait to bring it to reality. It would encompass much more than just dropping by and picking up some shampoo. Black beauty supply stores are popping up more and more now and I want to add to that boom with my own unique spin.
"Sky’s the Limit"- Inspiration is all around, but who inspires you?
Personally, I would have to say my sister really inspires me. She has owned her own business since 2004. She worked incredibly hard to grow her business and in the beginning. She sometimes worked 3-4 jobs to further her growth while building simultaneously. She’s grown immensely and did it all on her own. My parents also inspire me as well, because well, they’re my parents and they are completely amazing. They are incredibly supportive and always have my back.
Business-wise, Myleik Teele, Courtney Sanders of Think and Grow Chick, and Courtney Adeleye of The Mane Choice. I’ve followed them all from the beginning of their journeys and watched them build their empires. I remember watching Courtney Adeleye on YouTube, reading Courtney Sanders blog and Myleik before she launched Curlbox. A lot of the brands who are now on the shelves, I’ve followed long before they took off and seeing their growth just pushes me to go hard.
"Can’t knock the hustle"- What was the greatest obstacle you’ve had while being an entrepreneur?
I feel the greatest obstacle I’ve had while being an entrepreneur is just taking that damn leap of faith. Having enough guts to say okay, let’s do this. I’ve sat on Nourish and Love for so long and I’ve watched so many brands come and go, seen them reach the shelves and beyond and I finally said “It’s my time”. I’ve had minor setbacks such as building two websites from scratch and having them disappear from thin air but I’ve bounced back. Building a company from only your funds is also tough. It’s not a setback but at times it can make things move at a slower, slightly frustrating pace. It’s funny though because this question has really made me sit back and think that thus far I haven’t had any major, heart crushing setbacks. For that I thank God and I can only hope he continues to bless this journey.
Ending on a high note...
First, thank you for supporting me with a feature. This was amazing of you and I really appreciate it. Secondly, to anyone out there sitting on a dream for whatever reason, stop. Launch that big idea of yours, start where you are with what you have. Starting is the hardest part because you’ll get in your own way with doubt and excuses. Ignore all of it and just do it.
Well here you have it, if you have an idea, thought or goal take that damn leap of faith. You never know where your hard work and execution will get you! To find out more about Nourish and Love, LLC., it’s a MUST that you check out their site https://www.nourishandloveco.com.
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