At the age of 14, Monique Rodriguez grasped onto the idea of self-provision by getting a job to fulfill the wants and needs of her teenage aura. Her push rooted from seeing her mother work twice as hard to provide a decent living and household; which would ultimately become her guidebook into navigating an independent lifestyle.
Now CEO and multi-million dollar businesswoman of Mielle Organics, a natural hair-care line carved for the underrepresented healthy hair journey for the curls to the kinks, Rodriguez finds herself reflecting humbly on the process of creating such a successful brand.
For 8 years she worked as a nurse, a familiar nine to five of guaranteed financial support she learned from her mother’s installation of the importance of stability over passion. Her passion being within the likes of beauty and hair, and even at a young age auditioning for model calls of companies aiming to image these products. “ I was never really passionate about nursing, I was always really passionate about beauty, hair, and health, every since I was a very young girl. I just didn’t think I could take my passion and turn it into a career. I would always ask my mom when I was younger to take me to model calls and to model for hair care companies, and I would never get chosen and I never understood why anyone didn’t want me to model for their hair company. It wasn’t until now that I realize it wasn’t designed for my hair to be the model or face for someone else’s company, it was for me to be the face of my own company, and inspire other people that look like me. With her not paying attention to my passion, I kind of got discouraged and just went to nursing school because I thought that was what I was supposed to be doing. I was doing it for 8 years and I was miserable. I no longer wanted to continue to work at a job that wasn’t fulfilling to me and I decided to step out on faith and pursue my passion.”
Rodriguez’s departure from nursing pulled on her heartstrings a bit, unrevealing new fears and placing her into a place of discomfort. The big decision was one she would continue to question, and if her plans to bring her passion to life would be as successful as she envisioned.
However, the support from her husband, now being the major source of income from a household that used to thrive off two cash flows, and her God-given faith were what pulled Rodriguez up by the bootstraps, and took her into her garage where product production would begin. “The beginning stages were me connecting and engaging with consumers on Instagram, and talking to them about what I love and that was my passion for healthy hair. Eventually, I went into creating a product, and I started with one product which was our Mint Almond Oil, and the rest is history. Of course, I faced roadblocks, roadblocks and challenges are going to happen all through business and life. For me, a big roadblock was self-doubt and changing my mindset. I had to learn how to train my mind for success because we can doubt ourselves so much and talk ourselves out of our blessings. Reprogramming of the mind is something I had to do and continue to do because I’m human and of course you get those negative thoughts, but it’s how you react to those negative thoughts, dismissing those thoughts, and replacing them with something positive.
“It wasn’t until now that I realize now it wasn’t designed for my hair to be the model or face for someone else’s company, it was for me to be the face of my own company, and inspire other people that look like me.”
Although not her ending career choice, Rodriguez was able to pull from her years of nursing to better enhance the chances of a successful business. Not only did patient handling give her a more concrete understanding of building relationships built on trust with consumers, but also having the science background of bodily functions and reactions served as key components in formulations and ingredients used in the line.
The mustard seed test of the Mint Almond Oil has now expanded to 55 products, gaining over $15 million in revenue and becoming a global force in the beauty business, with its availability fiercely distributing through 87 countries in local Walmarts, Sally Beauty, Walgreens, Target, and more since 2014. Accolades haven’t stopped there, as her recent endeavor, the Moisture RX Line, sold out in just 30 minutes after its launch. The positive reception from just the haircare products alone has allowed an array of following products to join the movement; such as health vitamins, apparel, face masks, and body wash. “My brand represents empowerment, education, excitement, and we’re a faith-based company. I’m not afraid of my faith, and I’m not afraid to represent God and I know that he’s the one who has blessed me with everything I have. My brand and my products reflect education and excitement because we constantly interact with our consumers on social media, and ultimately empowering them by allowing them to see that there are women that look like them that use the products. We’re constantly giving them excitement by coming out with new products that meet their needs. So my brand educates my mission, and that’s to empower, excite and educate women about healthy hair.”
“Reprogramming of the mind is something I had to do and continue to do because I’m human and of course you get those negative thoughts, but it’s how you react to those negative thoughts, dismissing those thoughts, and replacing them with something positive.”
Faith in itself continues to play a great role in Rodriguez’s life; more accounted for turning tragedy into triumph after losing her son at 8 months to brain damage. She accounts this time in her life as questioning faith more than accepting it, but ultimately realizing God’s call to a higher purpose. “Of course, I would trade all of this in to have my son here with me, but I feel like God had a purpose, and his purpose was to bring out the gifts inside of me that I didn’t realize I had. I had to understand my values, I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know who I represented, and I had to find myself; I had to become spiritually close to God. I didn’t have a relationship with God, and I knew God wanted to have a relationship with me. He was pulling me in that direction but I kept going the other way. So when that happened to me, I had to learn to be obedient and submit to God and continue to get spiritual guidance and listen to him and let him continue to lead my path and guide me instead of trying to do things my way and thinking that I had it all figured out. It has made me stronger in my faith, it’s made me more confident, it’s made me fearless, it’s made me stronger, it’s made me become closer to God and being connected to him and listen to him. It’s made me become a better mother, and just a better woman overall.”
Family is number one to Michelle, and it mirrors through her line co-owned by her husband, Melvin, and named after her two daughters, Mia and Mackenzie’s middle names, Arielle and Gabrielle, taking the base of “elle” and using “Mi” as “my” to represent the love for her girls.
As a mother, wife, businesswoman, and mentor, life can be pretty hectic for Monique; but she creates her calm through multiple self-care and cleansing mechanisms for peace of mind. For instance, waking up before everyone to embrace the stillness of the morning, reading the Bible, praying, meditating, or working out. An occasional medi-pedi or spa day doesn’t hurt either.
“My brand represents empowerment, education, excitement, and we’re a faith-based company. I’m not afraid of my faith, and I’m not afraid to represent God and I know that he’s the one who has blessed me with everything I have.”
She also encourages podcast listening, something she has invested in with her very own series, “The Secret Sauce of Success,” aimed to share real-life business experiences and encouraging those with entrepreneurial passions to start manifesting their master plans and available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play Music. “My best advice would be that you can’t compare because everyone else’s journey is different, and you don’t know what other people have gone through on their journey to get to where they are. No one would have wanted to go on my journey, and be in that process that I was in to get to where I was at. So you can’t compare someone else’s success to yours, because we all have different stories, we all have different journeys, and everybody is different. You cannot compare your chapter 1 to someone’s chapter 336 because it’s a process. Enjoy the process, and what God has for you is for you. Be authentically yourself and be genuine, and nobody can duplicate you being you so just enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, and just stay focused on your end goal.”
Monique wants to use her skills and story to inspire others to share and grow from their own. She recently started a mentorship program entitled after her podcast, The Secret Sauce to Success Academy.
Her overall goal for the rest of the year is to be an outlet for empowering the skills and passions of women everywhere; giving them tips on how they can grow their businesses, navigating the social media world, and motivating them to stay focused.
“Keep it God first. Know your source and where your blessing come from and always remain humble. Don’t let the success get to you because success is rented, and the rent is due every day and we have to pay our dues.”
Be sure to keep up with all things Monique Rodriguez and Mielle Organics on Instagram @exquisitemo & @mielleorganics.
Photography: Blair Devereaux
Stylist: Julian R. Lark
Hair: Kimberly Shadani
Makeup: Mimi Johnson