Finally! It’s been a while since we had a haircare brand for Small Business Spotlight, but today we’re highlighting a Caribbean inspired beauty brand, Kurlee Belle!
My name is Terrinique Pennerman! I am 32 years old. I am from Dundas Town, Abaco, The Bahamas. I am the Founder & CEO of Kurlee Belle.
How long have you been natural? What made you go natural?
I stopped relaxing my hair and transitioned in 2008. I went natural mainly because when I would relax my hair, I would get scabs from the relaxer burning my scalp. I watched Chris Rock’s Good Hair and saw the damage that relaxers caused and that was it for me.
Tell us about your business.
Kurlee Belle started as a result of my natural hair journey. I wanted to stay away from harmful chemicals now that I was wearing my hair in it’s natural state. At the time, I couldn’t find products made from natural ingredients that gave me the results I desired so I started mixing my own hair treatments and twisting cremes— from the knowledge that I had acquired as a child growing up in The Bahamas. We would mix mayo, banana, avocado and egg as deep conditioning treatments and shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize and define the hair. Since the treatments and butters worked well for me, my friend encouraged me to start selling my recipes and Kurlee Belle began.
Where do you find inspiration?
Kurlee Belle is inspired by hair care recipes from The Bahamas. Jelle Coconut Styling Gel is made from 100% coconut oil. In the Bahamas, we love to eat the jelly part of the coconut we also make coconut oil to apply to the hair and skin because of it’s moisturizing and sealing properties. Banana Nut & Avocado Deep Treatment is also a concoction inspired by Bahamian hair care recipes, it is a blend of banana, coconut, avocado and honey that promotes growth, strengthens, tames frizz and makes the hair more manageable. Thirsty Kurls Leave-in Conditioner which is our best seller is made from hibiscus, aloe vera and honey which are very popular beauty/hair ingredients in The Bahamas.
What is your favorite product in the collection?
That is definitely a tough one! I would say Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo because I have never experienced a shampoo like it before. It is cleansing and moisturizing at the same time. Other shampoos would leave my hair feeling dry and straw like but Almond & Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo leaves my hair feeling clean, detangled and moisturized. It is definitely a miracle product. Even if you only co-wash this shampoo will make you a believer.
How have you navigated the American beauty market as a Caribbean founded company?
I started Kurlee Belle while studying in the USA. The connections that I have made from attending graduate school were priceless in terms of navigating the USA market. Getting into Walmart (now sold in Georgia, Texas, and Florida) was as a result of my graduate school connections from Duke University. Our biggest market is the USA market but we have a strong presence in the Caribbean: The Bahamas (Home Base), Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Bermuda.
What role do the tee shirts play in your business?
The T-shirts were created as an extension of the brand. Kurlee Belle in my opinion is a very fun, fearless and carefree brand— much like the people of The Bahamas. Sayings like Kiss My Kurls, Head Natural in Charge and Kurlee Girls Rock were made to further translate the message of fun, fearless and carefree.
What is one piece of advice you have for minority entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses?
Do it because you love it and are passionate about it. Do not do it for the money. I would give this advice to anyone wanting to start a business. Starting a business and sticking with it is hard if you are not truly passionate or don’t love what you do. The money may not come as fast as you think but the passion is what will fuel you and keep you going.
Where can we find more of you?