“We wouldn’t have gotten nearly this far if we hadn’t taken advantage of what the SBDC has to offer. We needed so much to work on the day to day stuff. It wasn’t just the direct services provided, either. It was the extent to which SBDC staff reached out on our behalf. It was amazing.”
Jessica “Jess” McGuinty, owner of Jessicurl, was blessed with a head of unruly curls. After devising a recipe to tame her locks with flaxseed gel, she shared her concoction with others she met in an online community dedicated to curly-haired individuals. Due to the overwhelming popularity, Jessicurl was formed and has since developed a full line of hair products for curly hair and has created a cult-following of customers. Jess can often be heard saying the Jessicurl slogan, “you have the right to remain curly.”
When Jess first created the hair care product for curly hair, she did not know much about starting and running a business. In addition to starting up, she was also relocating to Humboldt County from the San Francisco Bay Area in order to expand her operations, so she needed information on local business resources and assistance in locating a suitable facility. McGuinty also sought to devise a growth strategy that would help her capture market share, be able to pay for her increasing overhead and finance her rapid expansion without imploding.
Through the expansion, Jessicurl has experienced growth which brought additional challenges. Some of the challenges include international trade, quality control, calculating cost of goods sold, tax implications, marketing, human resources, financing/capital, changes of ownership agreements, and expanding further. The challenges that Jessicurl has faced are certainly representative of the challenges that many businesses face.
In order to address the various challenges, various SBDC business advisors have worked with Jessicurl. For a long time, the company has leaned on the guidance of North Coast SBDC Business Advisor Stilson Snow. Stilson coached the company on cash flow and on understanding their costs. He arranged for additional SBDC expertise to be brought to bear on issues such as managing people, quality control, and financial strategies.
Although, many of these areas were not in Jess’s repertoire of talents, Jess McGuinty is a natural at marketing and is a genuinely likeable personality on line and in person. Much of recent planning has focused on how to set up the company to play to those strengths while bringing in other talent to handle other things, all the while undergoing changes in ownership agreements and infusing capital in a thoughtful and reasonable way.
With the SBDC’s assistance, the company has witnessed tremendous growth and development of all things Jessicurl. Initially, Jessicurl moved out of Jess’ kitchen and into their first factory. Jessicurl began marketing all over the world, obtained financing, expanded production, and grew a solid and loyal customer base.
Through the years, Jessicurl has always looked to the next step in growing her business. During the first three years in business, Jessicurl experienced roughly 250% increase in sales and employed 5 people. In the next three years in business, Jessicurl experienced another growth in sales of 200% and added 2 more jobs. In 2010, Jessicurl sought and received angel investment and has grown to employ 8 people.
Jess is so pleased with the work that the SBDC does that in 2007, Jess agreed to join the board of directors of the North Coast Small Business Resource Center, the 501c3 nonprofit organization that hosts the SBDC program in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. She likens this to the Hair Club for Men: “I’m not just on the board; I’m a client!”