You Grew It Alone. Now Can You Lead?
Inc.|May - June 2021
Nnenna Stella, founder of the fashion accessories brand the Wrap Life, talks staffing up with Lisa Price, founder of beauty brand Carol’s Daughter.
By Teneshia Carr

THE MENTOR

Lisa Price

A beauty industry icon, Price founded Carol’s Daughter nearly three decades ago, making the company’s hair, skin, and body products in her Brooklyn apartment. Despite selling the business to L’Oréal in 2014, the mother of three still works full time for the brand she started, while mentoring a group of women entrepreneurs, most of whom are Black.

THE MENTEE

Nnenna Stella

Stella founded the hair accessories brand the Wrap Life in 2014 after working as a waitress for 15 years in New York City and Los Angeles. She’s grown the brand almost entirely by herself, hiring mostly independent contractors to help her scale. Stella is finally ready to build a team around her, but has some reservations about the best way to be a leader.

Sometimes, all you need to come up with a brilliant business idea is a little peace of mind. In 2013, after 30 days of meditation and journaling, Nnenna Stella identified a gap in the fashion accessories market: stylish head wraps. The Brooklyn-based waitress had been scouring the internet for a fashionable wrap after a “transformative” experience wrapping up her hair, but couldn’t find anything that appealed to her.

“I wanted to express something new, beyond lipstick and earrings, so I put on a head wrap, and I loved the feeling,” Stella says. “I didn’t know a piece of fabric had the power to do that.”

In 2014, she founded the Wrap Life, a hair accessories brand that sells head wraps, bandies, and turbanettes. And now, what began as a side hustle in her spare time has grown into a business with more than $5 million in lifetime sales. After years of working mostly with independent contractors, Stella has to hire her first full-time employees, a daunting task for the founder. Though 15 years of waiting tables in New York City and Los Angeles helped her become a master multitasker, for Stella, managing a team is uncharted territory.

Lisa Price knows what it’s like to start from humble beginnings. The founder of beauty empire Carol’s Daughter started her company in her Brooklyn kitchen in 1993, selling her homemade hair, skin, and body products at flea markets and from her living room. For years, growing the business was a lonely enterprise.

“There weren’t many of us Black women who were entrepreneurs,” Price says. “We didn’t have places to congregate like conferences and Curlfest, and we also didn’t have social media.”

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