By Lisa D. DeNeal (@diolette)

Don’t call Mahisha Dellinger, CEO and founder of, CURLS, LLC, and, host of the new OWN series, Mind Your Business with Mahisha, a reality TV star.

That was not her purpose when she signed on to do a show that allows her to help aspiring, but struggling, women entrepreneurs become successful and go above and beyond their dreams. She also wrote a book, “Against All Odds: From the Projects to the Penthouse,”(Brown Girls Publishing) released in 2015. Mind Your Business with Mahisha, premieres, Saturday, August 11 on OWN, after Iyanla: Fix My Life. I spoke with Mahisha about the series, what the term, ‘Boss up,’ means to her, the birth and future of CURLS, and, what advice she has for future entrepreneurs.

Mahisha Dellinger

 

Lisa D. DeNeal: Hi, Mahisha! Thank you for talking to Black Girl Nerds, and, congratulations on the show!

Mahisha Dellinger: Hello, Lisa. Thank you!

Lisa: I watched the first episode, Up in Smoke at My Father’s BBQ, and, I kept saying, “Oh, wow,” and, “Oh, Jesus!” so many times during the whole episode!

Mahisha: (Laughs) That’s hilarious! I hope that’s a good thing!

Lisa: It is! I look forward to watching the other episodes! How did you get this blessing?

Mahisha: You know, it’s interesting, because, I didn’t really seek this out. I was originally called by a set of producers that were looking to cast a show about black hair care brand owners. Myself, Lisa Price, owner of Carol’s Daughter, and, a few other young ladies were contacted. Lisa and I were interested, but the other ladies were not. And, when they replaced them with a different set of bloggers, I was no longer interested, so the project went away. The same producer called me about a show they created about helping small, black businesses, and, they remembered me from my interview in L.A. and wanted to see if I was interested. They showed the concept with BET, and, OWN, and, OWN wanted it.

Lisa: Wow. How many episodes are in the first season?

Mahisha: Eight episodes, eight different businesses.

Lisa: How did they choose the businesses for the show?

Mahisha: A casting director found the businesses. They looked for uniqueness and make sure it’s not in the same industry. They worked hard to find different sets of women entrepreneurs.

Lisa: How long did it take to shoot the episodes?

Mahisha: It takes five days to shoot one episode, so eight weeks for eight episodes. Then you have edits and extras, so, about 11 weeks, total.

Lisa: How does it feel to be OWN’s newest reality TV star?

Mahisha: I don’t think of myself as a reality TV star. Helping others is something I’ve informally done for quite a while. This, is one of those things I feel, is a part of my journey. It’s not something I relish in, it’s more about the work I’ve done, in helping these ladies. Out of the eight ladies I worked with, seven have made significant changes with their businesses as a result of the show. I still keep in touch with the seven ladies. We talk and have live chat, and, connect with, and celebrate each other.

Lisa: When Shalamar makes excuses about improving her business, you tell her to, Boss up. How have you applied this term in your life and how you came to using that as your mantra? 

Mahisha: We have choices to make; you either complain, whine, wallow, or you step up, boss up to make it happen. This was a common thread for me from the beginning. It’s been a big part of my life, to be responsible for my actions. If I see someone not being responsible, not willing to take advantage of any opportunities, I will call that person out. If it’s standing right in front of you, why not take advantage of it? And, I don’t have time for slackers.

Lisa: OK! How did you come about creating, Curls?

Mahisha: I was not planning on being an entrepreneur. Initially, I was happy working at Intel Corp. I went from being an intern to being offered two jobs after graduation. I took one of the jobs, and, proceeded to make my mark in corporate America, and for the first time, I experienced corporate racism. It rocked me at my core because I was a single mother, taking care of my child, and, this man wanted to get rid of me for no apparent reason. He had control over my finances, and, it was stressful. When it was dealt with and he left and I moved on, I realized this could happen again. I decided to shift gears and rethink on how I can have control of my destiny, so I became an entrepreneur. I was a newly natural hair mom and I did not have a lot of options. I started small with a website, then got calls from other moms, distributors, then I got a call from Target. They wanted to expand their ethnic brand, because relaxers were on the way out. and were looking for fresh new brand owners that had a captivating audience. Started at 105 Target locations. Then we were in all of the Targets and other stores. It was seven years of hustling.

Lisa: Did you test ingredients and work with chemists?

Mahisha: Yes. I knew what ingredients I wanted to work with. And I hired a company chemist.

Lisa: What is your advice for future entrepreneurs?

Mahisha: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. What are you bringing to the table? Know the industry inside and out. Know what you need, offer something in exchange for asking for help. Know what the pros and cons of your competitors. Always have a strong business and marketing plan. I prefer SCORE (www.score.org). They will connect you with a mentor in your industry and have free classes, there are SCORE chapters all over the U.S., and, everything is free. It’s a great way to get assistance. 

Lisa: What’s in the future for, CURLS.

Mahisha: We have a new line of hair care products; Cashmere & Caviar collection that was, launched in April at Target, and, other stores. In January, we’ll debut Vegan & Green. And we have a new venture, under a new umbrella, that has nothing to do with CURLS…it’s vitamin-infused popcorn,Vita-Pop. Over 50 vitamins, 100 calories, ten grams of protein, five flavors and organic. I’m also looking into pet hair care products; a pampered pet hair care brand.

Lisa: Wow! Well, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Mahisha: Thank you!

Mind Your Business with Mahisha premieres Saturday, Aug. 11, 10/9c on OWN. Check out CURLS, Inc. at www.curls.biz.

Lisa D. DeNeal is a freelance journalist and published author from Gary, IN.