We had the good fortune of connecting with Kadidja Dosso and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kadidja, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
From a very young age I yearned to constantly learn while simultaneously helping others in any way that she possibly could. Inquisitive by nature, I would watch my mother and grandmother style their hair and would ask a million questions so that I could mimic the same styles on my Barbie Dolls. As I grew older, I began braiding and styling my own hair, my friends’ hair and various others through referrals while in middle school, high school and college while simultaneously falling in love with cosmetics. Where I found my niche and gap in the beauty industry was the lack of affordable organic, cruelty-free and vegan hair care and cosmetics within the market. Every time I would enter into our local beauty supply store I would see thousands of warning labels and many ingredients in which I could not pronounce. I knew from the age of 10 that one day I would build an Organic Beauty Empire similarly to my role model is Madam CJ Walker, the first female self-made millionaire.
If we fast forward to 2018, I felt in my mind and spirit that I needed to start Dosso Beauty so I hit the ground running. My grandmother passed away a few months prior and she was always by biggest advocate and best friend. I knew that she would want me to pursue my dreams in her honor. I decided to start Dosso Beauty after a night of brainstorming, praying and conducting research. Afterwards, I identified where I could source high quality products to provide to consumers and began to test the market. Dosso beauty’s debut products were 4 styles of 100% Mink Eyelashes, and they were a hit! I then began to create personal care products ranging from Whipped Shea Butter, Beard Oil, Lip Balm and Lip Scrubs in my kitchen and then shortly after sought our manufacturers for Hypoallergenic Braiding Hair and all the other essential hair products needed. Currently, Dosso Beauty has a catalog of 130 products, and we plan to continue to grow over the next few years.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Most people aren’t aware that I have had another full time job as a management consultant as I was building Dosso Beauty. After graduating from Hampton University in 2017 with a B.S. in Business Administration, I began my career in Management Consulting in New York City. I’ve always had a love for New York because of its history, culture and the opportunity to succeed in various regards. Moving to New York felt like the perfect place to make a substantial amount of income to fund my business, expand my network and give me the confidence to succeed no matter what obstacles I faced… and trust me, I faced so many in the 4 years that I lived in NY.
Outside of paying high rent and trying to find work life balance with two careers (There’s no such thing), up until I received the HBCU Grand Prize from Black Ambition, I completely bootstrapped my business from pay check to paycheck. I would make an “owners investment of a minimum of $500 each paycheck to ensure that I had all of my inventory settled, paid my employees and that I was gradually refining my branding/marketing materials. There was even times where I would pay my rent late because I poured my time, energy and funds into Dosso Beauty as a one woman company. One of the earliest lessons that I learned is that if I try to do everything then I won’t have the time or energy into putting my all into the tasks that I’m great at. Finding talent was a struggle for me at first because Dosso Beauty is my baby and I didn’t want anyone to come in and disrupt its flow… But, then I realized that whatever God has planned for me and my business will always ring true, and no person can take that away from us.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So, I was a broke intern when I lived in LA in 2016 so I didn’t get a chance to experience the super glamorous side of the city as much as I’d like to. But now, I would for sure take them to the Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood, Another very serene place that I absolutely love is Santa Monica Beach, I’ve always felt a connection with the ocean shore and to listen to the waves crash while the sun sets is one of the most beautiful experiences in life. Last but not least, I’d take my bestie to the hills to see all of the beautiful homes and to admire its natural architecture!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This July, Dosso Beauty was deemed the Grand Prize Winner of Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition HBCU Prize awarding us $250,000 to expand our business and $75,000 in donations to Hampton University.
I attribute my formal education of how to build a business to what I’ve learned at Hampton University. The network and support that I’ve gained alone from my Hampton family is invaluable. Hampton helped me to see that possibilities are limitless. With hard work, thinking smarter and not harder and being confident in yourself you can attain whatever your heart desires.
My Family have been my biggest motivators and supporters since the day that I was born. I’ve always felt like I was born with the ability to shake up the world and to demystify stereotypes that have been placed on Black women. My family has always instilled confidence in me, kept me in multiple extra-curricular activities, played several instruments and sent me to the best schools to provide me with the best chance to succeed and I will forever be grateful for that. Most of all, my family instilled faith in me. We’ve always leaned on God for understanding and truly trusted his will and way. I truly believe that my purpose on this earth was to build Dosso Beauty and to be an inspiration to people of all races and ages and backgrounds. Yes, I work hard, but God is working even harder to place so many amazing opportunities to grow the business every single day.
Gerard Emptage Jared Alexander Nigil Crawford