Alikay Naturals is gearing up to launch a product in Target and Sally Beauty Supply that’s the first of its kind to hit mainstream retail shelves. It’s made from 100 percent bentonite clay and, like the rest of the Alikay line, it’s all natural. And it will bear Rochelle Graham-Campbell’s signature photo on the back.
“I want people who are out shopping to turn the bottle around when they’re reading the ingredients and say, ‘Wow, this is a young woman, this is actually owned by this person. I can start a business, I can chase my dreams as well,’” says Graham-Campbell, who formally founded the Fort Myers company in 2012.
“Not only am I young, but I’m also a young African-American woman, so I’m not typically what people would expect to be a CEO of a flourishing beauty brand,” Graham-Campbell, 29, adds.
But she is. And she’s done it completely debt- and investor-free.
Graham-Campbell created her first product, Essential 17 Hair Growth Oil, in 2008 out of self-need. She had just chopped her hair off, vowing to care for it naturally going forward. The problem was she couldn’t find any chemical-free products to do so.
Taking after her grandmother, a Jamaican herbalist, Graham-Campbell researched organic ingredients that could do the job.
“I didn’t have any fancy tools or machinery so I literally mixed it in a pot and bottled it up,” Graham-Campbell recalls.
At the time, the University of South Florida grad was pursuing a marketing degree and working part-time jobs. She’d post beauty and lifestyle video blogs on YouTube under the name BlackOnyx77 (she now has more than 100,000 followers), and when her fans noticed her 4-inch hair-growth, they demanded to know what she was using.
When she told them, they insisted on buying the concoction for themselves.
So, with $100 in tips she earned from Olive Garden, she created more of it to sell online. The bottles sold out in days.
She and her husband and business partner, Demond Campbell, continued to produce and sell products, putting all the earnings back in the business. In less than a year, it became a fulltime venture.
Today, Alikay Naturals offers more than 60 products and profits have remained steady. Each year, the company’s revenue increases by 33 percent, Graham-Campbell says. It was projected to reach $2.5 million in 2015.
Graham-Campbell credits her success to determination, sacrifice and a desire to learn. Over the summer she’s launching an online business program—Mogul University—that will “teach people everything business school did not teach them,” Graham-Campbell says.
She’s also preparing to roll out a kid’s line of 11 hair- and skin-care products dedicated to her 4-year-old son, Landon, in May. “I want to be an amazing inspiration for my son and I really want to build a legacy for him,” Graham-Campbell says. “I want to create a company that can stand the test of time even after I’m gone.”