It’s true, I dreamed of becoming a physician. And for me, that dream started early.
My grandmother and grandfather were both doctors. That presented a unique opportunity for me when I was a child. They were kind enough to let me observe them as they worked, inspiring me and pushing me to put in the difficult work necessary to become a physician myself.
But it was my grandmother who truly stirred my soul and modeled the way. She was ahead of her time in so many different and incredible ways. She was my hero, and a great woman who told it like it was without ever compromising her kindness. Of all her wonderful traits, her heart was the greatest. When someone in my family, or someone who knew my grandmother, says that I remind them of her that is the greatest compliment I could receive.
Ever heard those stories about the doctors who would accept pies or chickens for their services? No kidding, my grandmother was one of them.
My grandmother passed away nearly nine years ago – in her 90s. I can’t imagine what my life might have been without her. Oma’s love and the time, attention and care she gave to me after my mom passed away far too young from complications related to breast cancer steadied me. Oma gave me the strength and confidence to try things – medical school among them – that maybe I wasn’t sure I could do.
When my grandmother started to practice medicine, it was difficult. Women weren’t seen as equals. She had to push. She had to work harder than anyone else to be seen as an equal. She didn’t take an easy route. She never gave up, and she never gave in. She also managed to raise three kids along the way, when that was all women were expected to do.
So here I am, in my 40s, and I am building my own hair care company with my daughters. I am balancing an incredible number of things, and so are they. Even with the world’s best support system around me, the life of an entrepreneur requires focus, strength and guts.
Let me tell you, it’s not easy. Not if you want to do it right.
The past few years of development on the Many Ethnicities project has been trying. We are aiming for great because we know our work matters. The frustration and challenges that multi-ethnic people face in caring for their hair are real. We know, because we’ve experienced it firsthand. We can never give up, and never give in. We must get this right. Did Oma ever say anything like that to me? No, that wasn’t her style. She didn’t have to. That wasn’t her style and it’s not mine, either.
My grandmother faced a lot of challenges, and she backed down from exactly none of them. Like her, I’d rather show people than to tell them. I am grateful for the values that Oma instilled in me. They serve me well in my role as CEO. They serve me even better as a mom with three children of my own.
People in the industry have told me that some brands are born and launched in a matter of weeks. They tell me that it’s all about marketing – that it’s all about image and making people think that your products are magic. I only can imagine the expression on Oma’s face if I were to say something like that to her.
The Many Ethnicities line has taken years to get to market because we wanted to make products that are safe and gentle and actually work. Because there is no magic in any bottle, no matter which celebrity might tell you otherwise.
When people in the industry ask me why we have put so much time, effort and energy into this project, they are quick to tell me that there are far easier paths to take to be a success.
I simply say there are no shortcuts, no easy solutions, and that anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Nobody had to tell me that.