This Atlanta Black Entrepreneur Sows Love Into Her Business Helping Black Women Embrace Their Natural Beauty

02 October 2020
Pittsburgh Yards

“I’m on a mission to help women embrace their unique beauty, express their confidence and experience a higher love for themselves with products that make highly textured hair easier to manage and maintain.” — Jeannell Darden

As part of its mission to spur economic equity, job growth and entrepreneurship among businesses owned by people of color, Pittsburgh Yards is an advocate and strong supporter of accelerator programs such as the Breedlove accelerator program, which provides resources and mentorship to Black-owned beauty and wellness consumer goods companies in Atlanta. This entrepreneur spotlight features a recent program graduate, Jeannell Darden, Atlanta Black entrepreneur and owner of Moisture Love.

Jeannell Darden knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur when she was nine years old. In fact, beauty and entrepreneurship run in the family.

Jeannell Darden - Atlanta Black entrepreneur

Raised by a mother who is a cosmetologist and a father who owned a construction business, Jeannell learned firsthand what it’s like to pursue a passion with determination and grit. “My mother taught me how to do hair when I was nine and made me do my sister’s hair before church every Sunday,” she explained. “When I was in high school, it became my side hustle. Around that time, I colored my hair just two weeks after my mom gave me a chemical relaxer. This caused my hair to break off, which it continued to do through my junior year at Georgia Tech. While there, I had taken an African American entrepreneur class and began thinking about starting my own business, but had doubts about my ability to succeed.”

After three years of struggling with her hair, Jeannell ended up cutting it off — and temporarily cut off her dream to launch her own business. “After earning my Industrial Engineering degree, I entered the corporate world. Later, when my daughter was born, I went to work for Chick-fil-A’s corporate office in Atlanta. My daughter didn’t like daycare, and I knew I needed more flexibility for my family. Since I wasn’t in a position to inherit a family business, I knew I needed to start my own.”

“My daughter didn’t like daycare, and I knew I needed more flexibility for my family. Since I wasn’t in a position to inherit a family business, I knew I needed to start my own.” — Jeannell Darden

Inspired by Madame CJ Walker, the first African American female self-made millionaire who earned her fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for Black women, Jeannell decided to use her personal experience as a platform to start her own company.

In 2011, she resolved to take her personal “love/hate” relationship with her natural, highly textured hair and create a line of products that would make it easier to manage and maintain. Combining her engineering education and industry expertise, she formulated the proprietary Hydralure Technology™ to infuse hydration into hair on a cellular level. Thus, Moisture Love was born: a curated collection of hair care products scientifically formulated to infuse long-lasting, pH-balanced moisture into every single strand of natural hair.

After enjoying initial success, years later Jeannell realized she wanted to learn how to take her company to the next level. She enrolled in an incubator program called Start:ME at Emory University, where she learned about the Breedlove accelerator program through a fellow participant and knew it would be a good investment of her time.

“The Breedlove program was interesting to me because it was the first program geared toward beauty businesses. I liked that this was an accelerator program run by a local entrepreneur that was focused on Atlanta Black-owned small businesses. I had met Akuba Torvikey Dawkins, another Atlanta Black entrepreneur, previously at local events and knew she would be an invaluable resource.”

According to Jeannell, participation in the Breedlove program has been extremely beneficial, particularly because of the insights she gained about manufacturing and FDA compliance, staffing, marketing and how to keep operations flowing despite challenges posed by the current pandemic. “Akuba helped me reach out to a couple of manufacturers and gave me insight about why they would be a good fit,” she explained.

The program has also yielded potential collaboration opportunities with other entrepreneurs. “There is a salon owner in the group who is familiar with my brand. We have talked about how we can co-promote each other.”

When asked if she would recommend the Breedlove program to other beauty business entrepreneurs, Jeannell didn’t hesitate to say yes. “I think the Breedlove program is valuable. Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just getting started, we can all learn from each other.”

To learn more about the Breedlove Beauty + Wellness program and apply for the next nine-week virtual session, visit: https://breedloveaccelerator.com.

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