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This Beauty Founder Started a School to Help Others Overcome All the Challenges She Once Faced

In her 20 years as a business owner, Mahisha Dellinger, founder of Frisco, Texas-based hair care company Curls, has had to overcome her share of challenges. Among others, she had trouble finding funding and other resources as a founder of color, and initially she was trying to sell products–hair care items specifically designed for Black women–that were largely unfamiliar to the market. So when she realized she had an opportunity to help others deal with similar issues, she jumped on it.

In 2018, after her TV show Mind Your Business With Mahisha debuted on OWN, Dellinger received a slew of questions and mentorship requests from other Black women founders. She couldn’t handle them all herself, but she wanted to connect and to educate. That’s when she started recruiting other successful businesswomen and organizing the first Black Women Making Millions Academy retreat to provide training on subjects such as developing a business plan, getting funding for a startup, and growth strategies. Held over a weekend in June of that year in Los Angeles, the event included inspiration and education sessions with TV ONE general manager Michelle Rice, and Lynn Richardson, a TV and radio host, financial expert, and life coach. More retreats around the country followed, with attendance ranging from 50 to 1,000.

The project has since grown into an MBA-style program that in 2021 partnered with Beauty By Imagination, the owner of beauty brands such as Wet Brush, to set a goal of giving a reported $450 million worth of resources to 25,000 business owners. Registration for the academy’s now-online sessions is free and open to anyone who wants to attend. (A few months prior, Curls had entered into a partnership to become one of the beauty brands under the Beauty By Imagination umbrella. Dellinger maintained a majority stake in her company and became a member of BBI’s board.)

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