We had the good fortune of connecting with LaToya Stirrup and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LaToya, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My sisters and I started KAZMALEJE to solve our own problem. We were tired of dealing with excessive hair shedding while detangling, paddle brushes that would collapse, missing bristles or teeth…just a really poor experience. For the amount of money we spend on our hair, we felt we deserved better. Like many African-American women, we went natural at a time when the marketplace looked very different than it does today. We did not have a wide variety of hair products to choose from or tutorial videos to watch on YouTube. However, even though the product landscape has drastically changed and stores are redesigning their shelves to feature brands that speak directly to our needs, there is still a lack when it comes to hair tools and accessories. Many women (and men) have ditched their combs and opted to use their fingers in an attempt to minimize breakage and reduce the stress on their hair while detangling. Yes, finger detangling can work, but it is time-consuming and may not be as effective. Therefore, we decided to take a different approach and redesign the comb to work with our hair instead of against it. We took our idea from a 2D sketch to a 3D printed prototype to test it against hair tools we already had and found that our design outperformed the tools we bought from the store. It was at that moment we decided to turn the idea into a business.
What should our readers know about your business?
At KAZMALEJE (pronounced cosmology), we are dedicated to creating innovative, lifestyle-amplifying tools and accessories to improve our customers’ hair care and beauty regimens. We are passionate about developing products that take a fresh approach to solving everyday beauty needs. Our signature launch items are our patent-pending KurlsPlus Detanglers, which are hair combs specifically designed to minimize unnecessary breakage and ease the detangling process for women, men, and kids with textured hair. Even though 2019 was our first year on the market, our hair tools are 5-star rated and frequently referred to as “revolutionary,” “game-changing” and “magic” by our customers. This is because our hair tools are designed to be gentle on your hair and scalp while thoroughly detangling your hair. It’s like using your fingers, but better. Getting to this point was not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Entrepreneurship is closely tied to you as a person and will force you to confront things about yourself you may have been avoiding. However, in order to hit the heights you want to achieve, you have to do the work. You have to put new habits and processes into place that will impact you as a CEO and person positively. Unlike a regular job that you may be able to disconnect from when you walk out of the office, you are your business so it follows you everywhere…especially in the early stages. This does not mean that you don’t set boundaries, but there’s a different level of involvement and commitment when it comes to starting, running, growing a business. As new brand, we want the world to know that we are dedicated to bringing fresh ideas and solutions to market that actually solve everyday pain points. We entered this business as consumers looking to solve our own problem, and we plan to continue building upon this solution-oriented approach as we grow.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love showing people the many facets of Miami. Everyone always thinks of South Beach when it comes to Miami, but the metro area is so much more than that. From the village feel of Coconut Grove to Little Havana to Overtown to Wynwood to Aventura and beyond, there are tons of great restaurants, shops, bars, and more. I would start in Coconut Grove to share a bit of history on how Miami started, showcase my family’s history and my great-grandfather’s house on Charles Avenue as it is a historical landmark, and get brunch at Green Street Cafe on Main Highway. We would then take Bayshore Drive to pass by Dinner Key Marina, Vizcaya, and head to Brickell for shopping and lunch at Brickell City Center. Once we leave there, we would drive over the bridge to see Downtown. We would take Biscayne Blvd north and other side streets to visit Wynwood, Midtown, Design District, and the Upper East Side. After spending time in these neighborhoods and hitting up some great spots, we would then go west to visit The Historic Hampton House – a historic and iconic segration era hotel where some of the most influential entertainers, athletes, and Civil Rights leaders visited, performed, and made history. To end the night, we would then go back down to Overtown to eat at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to take this time to shoutout my family! We could not do what we do and be where we are without our family. Our parents are super supportive in more ways than one, but we absolutely love that they have leaned in as retired professionals to help us with order fulfillment. But it doesn’t stop there. From our uncle who helped us with our first freight shipment to our cousins who are our biggest promoters to our aunt who enjoys helping prepare our products for shipment and everyone in between…our business is a family business through and through.
Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/latoyastirrup/ https://www.latoyastirrup.com/