This Black Owned Business Doubled It's Jobs During COVID.
COVID-19 Effects On Small Black Business
In this devastating time where a number of black-owned small businesses are expected to close permanently, there are some inspiring stories of those who have been able to not only survive COVID-19 but thrive during the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, in March CurlMix had less than 20 employees and like many business was faced with a challenge, adapt or close up shop.
“The effects of COVID on essential business like ours are unavoidable, increased hygiene protocols, masks, testing, PPE etc. but CurlMix has been able to thrive in a shut-down economy where online shopping has increased.” - Kim Lewis
With so many people working from home, or simply staying in due to shutdowns and social distancing requirements, E-Commerce has seen an unprecedented boom.
“We are getting so many new customers, many of whom are shopping online for the first time, we could not keep up, so we had to start hiring fast!” - Tim Lewis
CurlMix has been able to add nearly 20 new jobs between their remote work and in-person positions. All entry level positions start at $17/hr and up and includes full benefits like health, dental, and vision insurance and a 401k.
“Our greatest accomplishment is to be able to employ black people and pay them a living wage and not a minimum wage. We have a staff of nearly 40 people and manufacture here on the west side of Chicago. When my team says they can afford their first ever apartment, go back to school, or afford to buy an engagement ring for their fiancé, that is more rewarding than any accolade we could ever receive. We are changing lives with our products for customers and with our employees.” – Kim Lewis
The future continues to looks bright for the company famous for turning down nearly a half-million dollar deal on ABC’s Shark Tank last year, CurlMix is now set to launch a second e-commerce brand at the height of the pandemic.
“We have been approached by several of the mass retailers but because we have focused on Direct to Consumer with our E-commerce platform, and our business has been thriving. Our goals now are to keep growing and to keep our people safe and supported. Luckily we haven’t had anyone contract COVID-19 and we hope to keep it that way” – Kim Lewis
What is CurlMix?
CurlMix is clean beauty made simple. CurlMix provides women with simple routines and simple ingredients to give them simple but beautiful results. CurlMix focuses on naturally curly hair but also offers personal care collections as well.
CurlMix is a Chicago gem.
Founded by Forbes 30 Under 30, Morgan Park alums and high school sweethearts, Kim and Tim Lewis. CurlMix employs 90% black people from the south and west side of Chicago.
“Growing up, we saw our parents work jobs where they were underpaid, overworked, and treated like just a number at a large corporation. CurlMix is more than just hair products, we want to be a place where our team loves coming to work.” - Kim Lewis
CurlMix is an employer that cares about it’s people above profits.
The CurlMix Story
Born and raised in Chicago, Kim + Tim Lewis are high school sweethearts who are no strangers to taking chances! In fact, the story on how they built CurlMix is a roller coaster tale that involves a popular game show, an epic fail, a necessary pivot and a million dollar launch!
After both attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, life began for the pair. Between marriage and job-hunting, adulting became an harrowing adventure of ups and downs. Eventually, Kim landed her first job making nearly $100K, and while Tim was still on his search, he worked at Starbucks until the right opportunity opened up.
One day, knowing Tim's talent for trivia, Kim had the bright idea of signing him up for " Who Wants to Be a Millionaire " because what better way to make money than game show trivia? To their surprise, Tim was selected to be a contestant on the show and after putting his knowledge of random facts to good use, he walked away with $100K. It was then that their journey in entrepreneurship began!
Knowing his wife's dream of owning a business, Tim wasted no time investing a portion of his winnings in their first startup - a niche social network for people with curly hair. Kim quit her job to focus on making it work, but unfortunately, their win turned into a loss when the business failed. Refusing to go back to a 9-5, Kim vowed to succeed in their next venture, and soon after CurlMix was born!