Jasmine Curtis, creator of Avocurl, participated in WBENC’s Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) Class of 2015 at the National Conference & Business Fair (NCBF) last June. After placing second in the pitch competition, she walked away with a $3,000 prize and tons of ideas for how to grow her business. Recently, Jasmine contacted us to tell us what she’s been up to since NCBF.
Jasmine launched Avocurl out of her dorm room. A self-confessed “product junkie,” she was frustrated that nothing she tried truly nourished her natural curls. She was also concerned about the environmental effect of the chemicals in many hair products. Avocurl uses avocado and other natural ingredients to keep hair soft and healthy.
One of Jasmine’s main priorities since graduating from SEP is bringing Avocurl to her target market. Her mentor, WBENC Board Chair and EY Diversity & Inclusiveness Procurement Leader Theresa Harrison, connected Jasmine with the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, which led her exhibiting at the NMSDC conference in San Diego last October. She has also sold her products at various events in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Her efforts are paying off, and Avocurl’s product line is expanding. Jasmine has introduced a pure avocado hair oil and a leave-in moisturizer, both of which have been a hit.
In-person sales are important, but these days it’s critical for women business owners to understand how to manage their online presence effectively. Jasmine has taken this message to heart and pushed herself to learn more about web metrics and analytics. She closed the year with Google’s “Let’s Put Our Cities On the Map” initiative, a program that encourages local businesses to improve their online presence. She further developed her web marketing skills through a fellowship with Fenton Communications in San Francisco. The fellowship taught how to effectively use social media, including creating promoted posts, and how to use Google Analytics to make strategic decisions, among other marketing skills.
Recently, Avocurl had a table at the 2016 Afrikan Black Coalition Conference from February 12 to 15. The conference works to increase community collaboration and academic recruitment and retention among Black students in California. She’s also been invited to speak on self-esteem and positive racial identity at a panel event hosted by the Multiracial Association of Southern California. She’ll have the opportunity to lead a breakout session showcasing her products and offering tips on healthy hair.
One of the best results of participating in WBENC SEP doesn’t have to do with analytical metrics or strategic planning. Jasmine is quick to praise the community she found through the program. Her mentoring relationship with Theresa Harrison has continued to grow, and she’s developed an active network of peers.
“We have an ongoing GroupMe where we share useful information and stay up-to-date whenever we travel in each other’s areas,” Jasmine says. “I am continuously thankful for the support and momentum from WBENC and folks who I’ve met along my journey who have been so generous sharing their knowledge and positivity.”
Do you know a student entrepreneur who could benefit from WBENC SEP? Applications are due March 11, so don’t wait!
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