Business

How This 54-Year-Old Latina CEO's ‘Love for Hair' Inspired Her to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Beauty Brand

Photo: It's A 10 Haircare

As a proud Latina, I've always done everything with a little bit of sparkle, spice and a lot of determination, especially when it comes to business. 

After hosting my first garage sale at the age of 10, I realized there were so many ways to earn money, whether it was being a golf caddy or cleaning up my neighbors' yards.

But thanks to my love for all things hair and beauty, what I really wanted was to be an entrepreneur in the haircare business — and that's exactly what I did.

From stylist to salon owner to CEO

When I was 18, I started working as a full-time hairdresser at a salon. During the evenings, I'd go right to studying for my business degree.

I spent more than 20 years as a stylist and running a salon before selling it to start my next venture: Creating my own line of simple and easy-to-use salon-quality products.

I was frustrated that there were so many single-benefit hair products out there. I wanted something that offered several benefits per product. So I thought, What if I could create an affordable haircare experience that eliminated clutter on bathroom shelves?

That's how the idea for It's a 10 Haircare — a line that guarantees not one, not two, but 10 benefits in a bottle — was born in 2006.

My then-husband and I each invested $40,000 in the business. The first product from our line was the Miracle Leave-In Conditioning Spray, a restorative, deep conditioning treatment that smooths hair, eliminates frizz and restores shine.

Full of natural ingredients, such as sunflower seed, green tea leaf extract and silk amino acids, the leave-in spray is a product that all customers, no matter what their hair type or ethic background, can use.

Today, It's a 10 Haircare is a privately-owned company that brings in more than $500 million in sales annually.

My advice to entrepreneurs

Latinos have an entrepreneurial spirit, and I love mentoring and watching them achieve their dreams.

Often, when people see other peoples' successes, what they don't see are the years of hard work that it takes to get there. 

Here's my best advice to those who are just getting started:

Let your roots inspire you

Instead of always trying to fit in and follow trends, I make my business stand out by weaving my identity into every aspect of my brand.

The vibrancy of my heritage, for example, inspired me to use bright colors on our product packaging and marketing campaigns.

I truly believe that you will be your best — and most successful — self when you embrace what makes you you.

Seek out mentors and ask for help

When I first had the idea for a haircare brand, I was well-versed in the hair industry, but I didn't have a strong grasp on the manufacturing and logistics end. It was a whole different world for me.

So in the early stages, I relied on the guidance and wisdom of mentors. I surrounded myself with people who were smarter than me.

It takes a village to do something great. Latinos are doers by nature, and it's in our blood to be a solid foundation for our families, friends and communities.

Always strive to be a better leader

Leadership is a learning process. I always try to understand my employees so I can better figure out how their talents can fit into the puzzle.

Good leaders don't force square peg in a round hole. They know what their individual team members are good at, and they help each person realize their full potential so they can shine.

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something

If someone tries to get in the way of what you've dedicated your life to achieving, don't give up. Stay laser focused, respond with silence, and protect your dreams as if they are your children.

As a young girl, I knew what I wanted to do in life. And by my teen years, I was saving money and planning how big and far I wanted to make it.

Dream big, then work backwards from there. That's my mantra. 

Carolyn Aronson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder and CEO of It's a 10 Haircare, one of the only female-owned professional hair care brands in the world. Follow her on Instagram @itsa10ceo.

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