Feb 11, 2022
This week, we feature Rochelle Graham-Campbell, the C.E.O. of Alikay Naturals. Rochelle is an entrepreneurial dynamo who puts her heart into everything she does. And she gives us lessons on building a business strategically.
As a young newlywed, Rochelle was paying her way through school and working three jobs: a C.N.A., a waitress at Olive Garden, and delivering daily newspapers with her husband, Demond. Then, she started doing YouTube videos as a form of creative expression, escaping all the pressure she put on herself to graduate early. The channel she created, Black Onyx, was where she could talk about her natural hair. In 2010, she was one of the original six natural bloggers and the only one that continues today. Through that channel, her haircare brand Alikay Naturals was born.
Although Rochelle isn't a chemist, she learned a lot watching her Grandmother, aka Yaya, in her native Jamaica, who was an expert in plant medicine. As a result, she was the first one people called when they had an ailment. Years later, Rochelle looked to natural ingredients to solve her hair problems and those who were part of her community. Rochelle formulated the brand's first 70 products in the first three years. That's no small feat. The line now has close to 90 SKUs.
Rochelle shares how attending a pitch competition with her last dollars became a catalyst for Alikay to get on retail shelves. She didn't win but left with a connection that led to her presenting to Target. They were sold and wanted the brand in 300 doors. However, Rochelle and Demond decided to ask for 1/3 fewer stores to prove themselves. Preparing to go on retail shelves was costly, but the two also agreed to manufacture their products themselves and started Black Onyx World. And in 2022, Alikay Naturals launched in 1800 Walgreens stores. She's also founded HER by Alikay Naturals, a feminine care line because she saw a dearth in the marketplace.
As a serial entrepreneur, wife, and mother, Rochelle shares why the Alikay Cares Foundation and philanthropy are essential business elements.
Finally, Rochelle shares some tips on launching a business in an already overcrowded category. Hear about this and so much more in this episode!