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When Gwen Jimmere invented a new hair product, she didn’t know it was going to be a success. Nor did she know that she would be the first African American woman to hold an American patent for a natural hair product.
The natural hair industry is estimated at $ 2.7 billion and is experiencing a resurgence. For Gwen, when she saw the documentary Good hair by comedian Chris Rock, she quickly realized how unhealthy most hair products are. She also learned how the industry was often run and owned by those who did not buy the product.
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All of that changes and Gwen helps lead the way.
“I grew up in a household where if you can’t find it, you can do it,” she says. “I created the Rhassoul 5 in 1 Moroccan clay treatment out of necessity. Having natural hair can be very long and expensive, taking two or three hours to finish your hair care regimen on what we call washing day and costing hundreds of hair products each month.
As a new mom, she ran out of time during the two to three hour wash days, so she developed something that would help her reduce the time. Gwen was also concerned that many products labeled as natural did not actually appear to contain many natural ingredients. So she invented hers, and when friends of friends – and strangers – started buying her product, she knew she was on something. In 2013, she created her company NATURALICIOUS.
It wasn’t long after that when she found herself laid off from her job as global marketing director at Ford when she was only a month away from finalizing her divorce, when the new single mom put everything down to take the plunge. Now, two and a half years later, his business has reached the seven-figure mark with a patent-protected product sold worldwide.
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But obtaining a patent was not an easy task. As a single mother, Gwen could not afford the costs of hiring a patent attorney. Instead, she spent six months researching and studying how to file one for herself. She spent what was necessary for filing fees and hired help to research the prior art. It also helped that Detroit also has a US patent and trademark office – one of only six in the country.
“I saved between $ 8,000 and $ 18,000 by filing myself, but it took me six months to learn patent law,” she says. “I made very good friends with the librarians who helped me during this period.”
The approved patent concerns the new application of the clay product imported from Morocco, which is a cleaner that also works as a conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and detangler all in one. The product reduces a traditional washing day to less than an hour. Gwen also guarantees a two month trial period. If you don’t like the product, she’ll refund 100% of your money and buy you a competitor’s product to replace it. This is a great guarantee – but to date, it has not had to resume anything.
Gwen hopes to encourage all entrepreneurs to consider ownership of their products, to think in terms of brands and patents and not just to share a product with friends.
“The patent gives me leverage and can be part of wealth creation. I really want women entrepreneurs to start legally owning our creations via intellectual property. We are constantly innovating amazing things, ”she says. “Consider patenting these inventions. Think about protecting yourself, your business and your heritage. “
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