MEET Lisa Price: Some women cook up mouth watering soul food dishes in the kitchen. Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, used her kitchen to create some of the country’s top selling beauty products. Encouraged by her mother to leave her writing assistant job and start her own business, she took $100 from money she earned selling her beauty products at flea markets, rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
Lisa opened her first Carol’s Daughter store in 1999. Today her beauty products are sold worldwide in stores like Macy’s and on the Home Shopping Network. Carol’s Daughter products are also used and supported by celebrities like Jay-Z, Solange, Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mary J. Blige.
MN: Was it your initial plan to spend your entire career in television, since you used to work as a member of a television production team? If not, what did you want to spend your life doing before you launched Carol’s Daughter?
LP: When I landed in television production I did think it was going to be my career forever. I LOVED it. However, I did have a concern. There are very long hours in that field and all of the people I met who had children were either men whose wives stayed home or women who made four times my salary who had devoted nannies. I wasn’t sure what I would do when the time came for me to have a child. As things turned out, I did not need to worry about that. I quit just before my first child was born and haven’t worked for someone else since.
MN: When did you launch Carol’s Daughter and what specific types of beauty products does the company provide clients?
LP: In the early 1990’s, I started selling hair and body care products at local flea markets and craft fairs. I opened the first Carol’s Daughter store in 1999. Carol’s Daughter is a complete line of hair, skin and body products made with love and natural ingredients.
MN: Businesses cannot succeed without capital. What resources did you use to finance your business and how much did you initially invest in Carol’s Daughter?
LP: My initial investment, back in 1993 was $100 for my first flea market. From 1993 to 2001, I grew my business organically, investing back into my business as I made money. I also used credit cards to finance different projects. In 2001, I took out my first bank loan to finance renovation on a production facility.
MN: Describe the early years you spent creating your own beauty products out of your home, selling them at church flea markets before you started to yield a sizable profit? What were those early years like and what did you learn during those years that you continue to benefit from today?
LP: It would take a lot for me to describe the early years in full detail, but in a nutshell, it was glorious. I did not feel that way back then because there was so much work to be done and so many mistakes made and lessons learned. But, now, I appreciate the beauty of that process. That wonderful discovery of learning your business and watching it grow and being able to make mistakes that don’t have overly huge consequences . . . I tell people to enjoy the youth of your business. It is a lot like being a parent. You love that your children grow up and become independent and smart, but you miss when they were babies and toddlers. You miss the magic and the innocence.
MN: What was the biggest challenge you faced as a business owner? How did you overcome this challenge?
LP: My biggest challenge has always been myself and my own insecurities. I learned about four years ago, that I have to turn the mirror on myself first and make sure that I am doing everything in my power to attract the right energy to myself and that I am doing everything to keep myself strong and thinking clearly. I am my own biggest ally, but I can also be my own worst enemy.
MN: When did you realize that you had a viable business and what did you do to celebrate this milestone?
LP: There have been several little moments of realization for me. One was when a guest traveled to my home in Bedford-Stuyvesant to purchase products to deliver to his daughter in South Africa. Another was the first time a half-page article was written about me and my business. Then there was the opening day of my first store that had 75 people waiting in line an hour before opening. Honestly, to celebrate I thanked God for my blessings and I went back to work. I celebrated in having the work to do.
MN: You appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002. In what specific ways did that one television appearance change your life and the future of your business?
LP: Most people think that when you go on Oprah, your business changes overnight because you get tens of thousands of orders. Other people think money transfers into your bank account just because she shakes your hand. The latter is definitely not true and the first is only true for some. For me, my business experienced a lift, but it was one that we could handle and it was one that built throughout the year. My biggest blessing from appearing on Oprah was the glory of fulfilling a dream and the freedom to dream bigger.