Family, Faith, and the Power of Social Media: This Entrepreneur Journey into Mainstream
In the series, “Building a Business: Conversations with Entrepreneurs,” with Dr. Corinthia Price, CEO and Founder of Workforce Career Readiness™ Dr. Price shares the life-lessons of entrepreneurs. I asked them a variety of questions about success, advocacy, work-life balance, philanthropy, and anything else in between.
I recently spoke to Grace Eleyae, Founder and CEO of Grace Eleyae, Inc. In 2014 Grace took a trip to Kenya that changed her life. During a bumpy 8-hour car ride, all the hair on the back of her head broke off - the result of her chemically straightened hair and constant friction against the headrest. Later that year, as a solution to her completely damaged, broken and dry chemically straightened hair, the first prototype of the Slap (Satin-Lined Cap)® was created. After seeing immediate changes in her hair, she passed it to friends and family. It was a hit. Soon after, Grace Eleyae began selling her products on Etsy and by September 2014, decided to fully launch Grace Eleyae, Inc.
One month after the launch, a YouTuber, CloudyApples, named the cap as a “must have” in her nighttime routine. This led to more and more beauty bloggers giving the Slap (satin-lined cap)® rave reviews, which then brought the Slap into the mainstream world. Since then, she has sold to almost 200,000 happy customers and counting.
Now nearly 4 years later, Eleyae has broadened her product line to satin pillowcases, satin scrunchies, satin-lined baseball hats and more versatile, luxury satin hair products that are designed to combine style, comfort and functionality for the modern woman.
Why did you start Grace Eleyae, Inc.?
It was an accident on purpose. I vision a world where people can be confident. Free to be confident in who they are and what they're capable of. I wanted to create a product that keeps the hair protected at night but you could also wear it out and look stylish during the day.
What is the greatest challenge you faced with Grace Eleyae, Inc.?
Getting the confidence to really step up and take the helm of CEO has been one of my big challenges over the last 4 years. I really started out as a fairly reluctant CEO. I just wanted to design the product and stay in the background even though my name is on the product. My brother has been just a huge mentor in helping and coaching me into getting the confidence to really manage this organization.
What was your biggest "A-ha" moment?
I can let go. When I started it was basically my family and I running this business. It was all hands on deck. We started growing and bringing in people to help us out we were still doing a lot of the work. It became very difficult to let go. The big huge “aha” moment came earlier this year. Three years into running I learned how to “let go”. It's OK to delegate. It’s ok to utilize people’s strengths and allow them to make mistakes and also to thrive at the same time.
What is more important success or happiness?
It really depends on the person. Success to one person could be revenue, profit or customer satisfaction. In my opinion having challenging but attainable goals and actually hitting them you can have both success and happiness.
What is advice would you give a new startup company?
Keep going. Take one day and step at a time. We can become so consumed with doing things right that we don't do anything. Prioritize and take the solution that’s right in front of you. Put one foot in front of the other and you will get through it.
As you look over your life, what would you tell your younger self?
Everything it's not that big of a deal. Take some time to literally smell the roses and just live in the present moment. Relax it’s OK to make mistakes. I would tell my younger self don’t sweat the small things. This is a lifelong lesson.
What have you learned this year that was a surprise to you?
In times of overwhelming fear there is always time to take a moment to find the hope in the situation. There's a quote that I found years ago that just became so real to me this year. It’s by Joel Osteen, “fear and faith have the same thing in common in that they both require you to believe something that hasn't happened yet.” In the moment you have two options: to be afraid of what is to come or to believe what's going to come can be good; and find the good in what is to come. This quote has been my guiding force into my psyche this year. My faith has gotten me through rough and good times.
What books are you currently reading?
- Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
- Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
What podcast do you recommend?
- How I Built This with Guy Raz
- Jesus and Jollof featuring Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji
Dr. Corinthia Price is the CEO and Founder of Workforce Career Readiness™. She is an international entrepreneurship advisor and workforce development analyst. Dr. Price is an award-winning recipient of the “Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business Award”.