Interview By: Dangerous Lee - Black Girls Allowed
Meet LaToya Stirrup: Creator of KAZMALEJE – Detangling Combs For Textured Hair
Forging My Path
The path to entrepreneurship is growing ever wider to accommodate the number of people exploring this avenue as a way to make their mark outside of the constraints of corporate America. The stats are out and Black women are the fastest growing segment when it comes to entrepreneurship. From 2007 to 2012, the number of companies owned by Black women grew 67 percent, outpacing the growth of male owned businesses according to reports by the U.S. Census.
I’m proud to say that I was a part of that boom. Two of the companies I co-founded were formed during that period. In 2010, I formed what would become my project management and creative services consulting company, KISS T Creative Suite, LLC.
In 2012, I along with several other colleagues started brainstorming the foundation of Digital Grass Innovation & Technology, a company that would serve as a platform to educate, support and showcase entrepreneurs in tech and innovation. At the end of the boom, I officially decided to step out and become my own CEO in 2013.
Black Women Boom!
Was it something in the water? Who’s to say. What I do know is that we are creating companies and starting new ventures because we want something more. We want more than what was given and told to us. We want creative freedom to express ourselves. We want creative freedom to bring new solutions to market. We want creative freedom to not only make a profit, but give back to our community. We want creative freedom to make a schedule that works for us and our families. We want creative freedom to be ourselves all day, everyday. This generation, my generation of business owners, is different.
We were forged at time when tech was growing at an exponential rate. Social media became the primary vehicle to connect with friends and families. Now, IoT, AI and VR are solutions with real possibilities to disrupt industries and are not just letters thrown together. We are embracing the tools in front of us to realize our dreams. To be in the midst of everything is extremely exciting. However, being able to tell the story is even more rewarding.
Through Digital Grass, my colleagues and I are documenting the evolution of entrepreneurship and capturing the stories of innovators, leaders and trailblazers on our weekly show, Tech, Beats & Bytes. On our team, we each have our own individual passions and support each other in realizing our dreams. We are a collective of creative entrepreneurs driven to diversify the marketplace with innovative solutions, like the patent pending detangling combs I am creating with my two sisters to directly address the unique needs of those with curly, coily hair.
KAZMALEJE for curly, coily hair
In 2015, I was inspired by an idea to redesign the shape and teeth of the comb to better work with textured hair. Having embraced my natural hair texture in 2008, I was all too familiar with the issues that come along with detangling naturally curly, coily hair. It was out of this shared experience that Kazmaleje was born.
My sisters and I decided that we would become our own solution and develop a company that would create lifestyle amplifying tools and accessories specifically designed for curly, coily hair. This comb design would expand into two other models, our pick and paddle comb. I’m excited to say that, at the time of writing this article, we are finalizing details on manufacturing and are bringing our solution to market. But our line of detangling combs is just the beginning.
“Will there be failure? Absolutely.”
As an entrepreneur, you often hear people say it’s lonely at the top. Even though I am still ascending the mountain to reach the peak of my success, I feel I will have a different experience. You see, I have surrounded myself with a great support system and friends as well as family who share a similar vision.
We are all striving to create big ideas, whether that be in scale or concept. Will there be failure? Absolutely. Will we help each other get back up and try again? Absolutely. In my opinion, that’s what it is all about. Equipping oneself with the right tools, resources and support to endure the journey and have fun while doing it.
Too often we solely focus on achieving the end goal and overlook the journey. I’ve decided that while I forge my path I will enjoy every bump in the road, rest stop and breathtaking view. After all, no one forced me to take this road. It was my decision and I take full responsibility.
Onward to success.