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Textured Hair Brand Mielle Organics Inks Major Investment Deal

"If I've been able to break this glass ceiling, that means that the women that come after me should be able to shatter it."

Hair care business Mielle Organics has signed a major investment deal with Berkshire Partners, which is buying a minority stake in the business.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Berkshire generally invests between $100 million and $1 billion per deal.

Mielle was founded in 2014, and makes hair care and skin care products that are sold at major mass retailers, including Walmart, Target and CVS. Bestsellers include Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil, $9.99, and Pomegranate & Honey Moisturizing and Detangling Shampoo, $12.99.

Founders and husband-and-wife team Monique and Melvin Rodriguez will remain majority owners of the business and continue running day-to-day operations. Richelieu Dennis’ New Voices Fund invested in Mielle in March 2020, and remains invested in the business.

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For Rodriguez, the funding is about more than globally scaling her beauty company — it’s also about opening the door for more Black, female entrepreneurs to gain access to capital. Women of color receive less than 1 percent of venture capital funding, and Black women receive .0006 percent, according to Arian Simon, cofounder of Fearless Fund, a venture fund built by women of color for women of color.

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Monique Rodriguez founder of Mielle Organics
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“Black women, we don’t have access to [the same] funding as other people in the business world. And so for us, to be able to accomplish something so great and so significant and so historic is really a win for our community,” Rodriguez said. “If I’ve been able to break this glass ceiling, that means that the women that come after me should be able to shatter it. It’s not just about my story but about the women that come after me.”

Of the Berkshire investment, $1 million will go toward Mielle’s More Than a Strand program, which invests in community recovery efforts in North America, the Caribbean and Africa to help get Black, women-owned beauty and barber shops back up and running after the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative also invests in entrepreneurs and is funding 60 scholarships for women to go to Rutgers University’s NBH Professional Online Global Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, which offers courses in business, generating revenue, marketing and financial management.

Rodriguez said the reason she aligned with Berkshire was because they supported the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Mielle has been growing quickly, even during the pandemic, Rodriguez said. Industry sources said that Mielle did more than $40 million in net sales for 2020.

With money from the new investment, Mielle plans to ramp up new product launches, marketing and enter new geographic markets.

“My whole goal for Mielle is to become a global beauty brand and to be accessible to every textured, curly haired girl across the world,” Rodriguez said. “When you think about textured hair, textured hair varies and textured hair has so many different needs and has such a variety. I want to be able to meet all consumers needs by giving them new innovation, a better product assortment and being able to innovate and go to market faster.”

Rodriguez said her vision is to “grow and scale to be not only the number-one Black-owned brand, but be the number one beauty brand.”

William Blair advised Mielle on the deal.

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