Mielle Organics Founder, Monique Rodriguez, Dishes on the “The Mielle Life” and Everything Natural Hair
It seems as if Mielle Organics emerged out of the darkness overnight. The natural hair care product line has resonated with naturalistas all over the world since it’s creation in 2014. However, it’s founder, Monique Rodriguez says that although it’s been a whirlwind, her journey to creating Mielle Organics was far from a overnight success. I spoke to the hair care guru and she dished on how the idea to create Mielle Organics came to be, the amazing reception from the natural hair community, hair texture shaming and more. Check out our chat below.
Keyauna: We did a give-away in the summer with hair products, and it included some of your products. That was very successful. Everybody loved it. It was a lot of good feedback from the give-away, but it seems like you guys went from 0 to 100 real quick lol.
Monique: Real quick? That’s great that’s what it seems like, but that’s not exactly what it was behind the scenes. But I’m glad it seems that way lol.
Keyauna: Tell me then, how did it start? What made you decide to start producing hair products, natural hair products? Was it your own hair struggles, someone you knew? How did you get it going?
Monique: Well, a little bit of both. My background is in nursing. I’m a registered nurse, and I’ve worked as a nurse for 8 years before launching my product line. In the midst … Like I said, it’s a combination of both, because I would keep going back and forth. I’ve always been natural, but I would just straighten my hair, so I had a lot of heat damage because I felt that my hair was just easier to manage when it was straight. When it was curly, it was hard to find products to help maintain the frizziness and to help define my curls.
A lot of the products that I was out looking for, they had just bad ingredients. That’s what sparked the curiosity of me just researching different ingredients and finding what works. I guess that’s where my science background came in at. The stuff that I was seeing on these ingredient labels, I would research it and find that some of the ingredients were linked to cancer and can be harmful. I was just like, this stuff is just not good. It’s the lack of education and us, as African-Americans, that we don’t have, to know the importance of the ingredients that we use. I just wanted to really combine the two, because beauty and fashion has always been something that I’ve been so passionate about, and nursing was something I went to school for.
I enjoyed nursing, but it wasn’t my passion. I felt that I was there for a reason, to really learn. That’s how I was able to put my medical background and my passion together and really try to help promote the importance of healthy hair, with healthy ingredients, that people can be… Everybody’s so, ‘well we have to eat organic, we have to worry about the food we eat’. It’s not just the food we eat, but it’s also the products that we use on our skin. That’s important, as well. People don’t realize that, and that’s just lack of education.
I just wanted to take my background and really try to help inform and educate people on the importance of using healthier products, like using natural preservatives and organic ingredients, because I feel that that’s what works better with our hair and our skin. The herbs and things that come from the earth and nature, like God created. Of course, you want to put things in the products to preserve them, but there are also natural things that can you use that are not harmful. That was how everything came about. Then, I started just posting things on social media about it. I would find things in my kitchen and just put in on my hair and-
Keyauna: Really experiment with it.
Monique: Yeah, I would just experiment and then just going through these experiments, I noticed how the health of my hair changed and my hair started to grow longer. I was like, “I’m on to something.” I got so many compliments and people were asking me, “What are you doing to your hair?” I said I would post something for people interested. It just took off from there.
Keyauna: One thing you said that was important, was healthy hair. I feel like a lot of people just do whatever at the moment that may look good, but it’s not necessarily healthy for your hair. Clearly, that was a big inspiration behind your product line. Talk a little bit about the experience you had with other women, how they would see the products based on the healthiness of their hair, as opposed to it just being pretty.
Monique: Correct, so my customers … I get very great feedback from customers, because they’re excited. They can see the difference in their hair and the texture of their hair. Their hair is more manageable. They can see that it’s soft, it’s silky, it’s shiny. When your hair is healthy, it does all of those things. What people don’t realize is it’s going to take your hair awhile to get used to that regimen. Some people, like you said, are looking for that quick fix. So, yeah, if you go buy a product for $5.99, $6.99, it’s going to give you that quick fix, but you might be damaging your hair overall. Do you want healthy hair for the long haul, or do you just want look good for the time being?
I do tell customers to give themselves a good 30 days to get used to new products and healthier products and get used to this regimen. Develop a good regimen. Wash it and deep condition on a regular basis and I can guarantee you that you’re going to notice a change to your hair. When customers follow directions, they get great results. I get lots of feedback and I don’t know if you follow me on social media, I post pretty much … I can’t post everybody that gives me feedback, I try to. I see a lot of our customers that post their pictures of their progress, and I’ll just re-post it.
Keyauna: When you do use a product line, how important is it that if you are using that whole line, as opposed to mixing and matching. Is that really important? To use all the same things. If I’m using the Mielle Organic’s oil, maybe I should use the shampoo and hair conditioner from that line too, as opposed to mixing and matching. Would it change and does it impact the health of your hair?
Monique: I think that it’s beneficial to use the same line, because if you’re using something from one brand versus the next and then you’re hair’s not reacting to it, then how do you know which one’s not working?
Keyauna: Mm-hmm. That’s a good point.
Monique: I think that … yeah, it’s just hard to figure out what’s working and what’s not if you’re just using a lot of products. Then, a lot of people, they will have five different brands, and probably load all of those five different brands on their hair at once. That causes product buildup, and then all those different chemicals are not going to mix in fine with each other. They are chemicals at the end of the day. You don’t know if this certain chemical mixes well with whatever chemical ‘Product A’ puts in their product. It’s just hard to try and really see if a product is working for the health of your hair, or if it’s giving you just a temporary fix, if they’re using different products all at once.
I believe that less is more. I really don’t do a lot to my hair. I really keep my regimen simple. I wash, deep condition, moisturize. It’s really simple, and I think that less is more. A lot of people using all different products, because they’re looking for a certain texture or they think that this product is going to make their hair look like the girls they see on YouTube. No, that’s not true. You just have to keep your hair healthy, keep it strong, and then you’ll notice that you hair is more manageable, and then you’ll learn how to embrace the hair that God gave you.
Keyauna: I think one thing that’s happening in the natural community now is the texture situation and people shaming other hair textures. I think they call it the 4C hair, or whatever. Have you encountered any of that kind of stuff with your products where it works for some people, but not for others, and people don’t really understand that texture has a big part to do with it?
Monique: Not really. I get comments that say, well you … I only see curly hair types (on your social media. That’s not true, because we post all different hair types. We post all different ethnicities, and if you use the product, and I don’t care if you’re White, we’ll post it, because it’s showing that we’re not trying to change. We’re promoting healthy hair, so part of healthy, growing hair is like I said, deep condition, keep you hair moisturized. We focus on a lot of products that help the health of your hair. Of course, we’ll have styling products that will come out, but I haven’t heard a 4C person says that ‘oh these products don’t work on my hair. They just work on a person with 3A hair’, because it’s not discriminatory, I guess that’s the word. If you’re just looking to keep your healthy and develop a good regimen, then the products are for you, regardless of whatever type of hair you have. I don’t really get that.
Keyauna: I’ve noticed a big, controversial thing in the community, so I wanted to get your take on that. I’ve seen the product line, and I know what you have to offer. Are you going to expand the line anymore with different products, or expand with more oils or more moisturizers to choose from?
Monique: Yeah, so I’m currently working on a kid’s line that will be out hopefully the end of this quarter. Then we’re working on a couple of styling products that will give you that look people are looking for, but in a healthier, natural and organic way. You still get the same effect.
Keyauna: Good. The vitamins and stuff, I’ve seen those too. It’s very cool that you’re not only focusing on hair, but you’re focusing on healthy skin, actually growing the hair out, as well, outside of just treating it. Talk a little bit about that part.
Monique: That comes from my background that when I think of healthy hair, I think of a healthy body overall, because how you take care of your body overall is a reflection of how your hair looks and a reflection of how your skin and nails look on the outside. I think that it’s really important to give your body the nutrients and give your hair the nutrients from the inside out process to really…Women, adults, we’re always running, on-the-go, so we may not get all the nutrients and the vitamins and minerals that we need. We need to have a supplement just to give us our daily vitamins that we should be taking everyday that we may not be getting from food.
Also, in our vitamins, like I told you, we use natural herbs. That’s in our proprietary blend and these herbs, such as soft palmetto have been used. They’re grown from the earth and they’ve been used for many, many centuries and ancient Chinese medicine for promoting hair growth. It’s been proven that the herbs that we use actually work with preventing hair loss and helping the hair grow. Like I said, it’s all natural, natural herbs, along with the necessary vitamins and minerals that we may miss on a daily basis. They are all in two tablets.
Keyauna: Another thing I thought about when I was thinking about Mielle Organics was just, I guess, in general the women’s empowerment side of it all. I think that for so long we’ve been programmed to not embrace our natural hair. So we’ve tried to make our hair like what other people’s hair looked like. Do you know what I mean? I think that a lot of the newer, natural hair care lines that have come about, there were a few in the beginning, but now there’s so many brands to choose from. I think it’s empowering for women who didn’t feel like they had choices before? Did that weigh into you starting, wanting to give people more choices to be able to really embrace their own texture, their hair?
Monique: Yeah, definitely, because that’s part of our mission statement. Empowering and trying to educate women about healthy hair with what I told you. We post so many of our customers’ because some women, when they see their picture on our page, that really excites them and that may boost somebody’s confidence, to say, “Oh my goodness, they posted my picture.” I’ve even seen customers that will post their pictures of their kids, and they feel like they’re instant celebrities because everybody’s going on the pictures, liking the pictures, commenting. That’s empowering, because you never know, I could have made somebody’s day.
I just posted their picture and just boosted their confidence levels. Them seeing how many people like their style and like their hair, it just shows that you can be natural and people will like your hairstyle and just accept you for what you are without having to do the other stuff. I think that’s why I really…people say I post a lot, but like I said, I might make somebody’s day. People really get excited when they see their picture.
Keyauna: Yeah, I can understand that. A lot of the … I follow you guys on Instagram, and I wouldn’t say you post a lot, but I get it. You want to share photos of women who are feeling empowered by your product. I saw you have some celebrity endorsements. Now, people are coming out of the woodwork that are using the product and loving the product. How does that feel? I guess just watching your baby grow from when you started exploring and experimenting to where you got to now?
Monique: I feel that it’s nothing but a blessing from God, because I feel that my business is anointed. The products are anointed. I’m a very spiritual person and … When I quit my job as a nurse, which I was making very good money, people thought that I was crazy for wanting to quit my career. It was totally based off of faith and believing in my products and believing in the company and what I know I can accomplish. To see that celebrities, they’re actually using the product and giving me feedback and saying they love the product just as much as I do. It’s just a blessing. I don’t know what other way to say it.
Keyauna: Is there anything else that you want to share, that you want readers to know about the product, about you?
Monique: Basically that we are a faith-based, honest company. We’re black-owned. We’re really passionate about really empowering women to embrace their natural hair and go about it in a healthier way and to just not only focus on hair health, but overall body health and fitness, overall. Our mission is to empower and excite and educate women about healthy hair. That’s something I’m really passionate about.