Black Entreprenuers You Need To Know: Kimo Bentley
Kimo Bentley has worked in the fashion industry with Ralph Lauren & Polo Sport, in accounting and as a hair technician + transplant expert at Bosley Medical Center. Now, she's the owner and CEO of her own natural beauty brand. Each of those past endeavors work together towards the success of Kimo Bentley as it’s known today. She took some time out of her busy schedule for an exclusive interview with LMDES.
Hi, Kimo, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We’re all thinking it, so let’s just say it: your hair is stunning! What’s your natural hair story?
My natural hair story started about 20 years ago, when I decided to stop fighting the "power of the curl". After many years of trying every single straightener on the market to make my hair silky and straight, I decided to cut it off and start fresh. Originally my background is a mixed one both parents are originally from the island of Trinidad and Tobago. One is black and the other is of East Indian descent. With a combination like that most people will say you are blessed with bountiful curls but it was not the case for me. I actually have 4 different curl types and one side is actually a loose wave, so managing this particular hair type was a challenge.
Over the years, I have dabbled in several brands which either were too drying or made my hair too clammy, oily, and limp. So, I decided use a combination of items which were shea butter, coconut oils, honey and vinegar. The key to a healthy scalp is to exfoliate it because "scalp is skin" too.
Honestly, there is no particular shampoo or conditioner that can actually make claims on hair growth. Let me tell you the truth there is no miracle growth serum, you have to cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate and protect your scalp, the same way you treat your skin you should treat your scalp. A clean and healthy scalp creates hair growth, so the solution for my texture issues were to add in something called Brazilian knots. They are tied to a few of the strands at a time with custom made hair texture that is identical to mine, this has help train my curl pattern to follow suite. My hair is so much more manageable and very easy to maintain, I typically get them replaced every 9 months. In between that time, I live in the Kimo Bentley Brand conditioner which has apple extract and is extremely hydrating.
Starting a company from scratch can be both exhilarating, and daunting. Were there any nay-sayers in your life, and how do you overcome the “haters”?
As we all know starting a company can be scary. Many will tell you not to or that it cannot be done but I like to tell people before anything was done it was deemed impossible! There will always be people who will challenge you and go against anything you do. They push you to raise the bar higher for yourself and help you build tenacity. Push, build, grow and share... it's the only way to be your best.
Naturally, you have a special relationship and connection with each product, but you can tell us: do you have a favorite scent or product in your line?
I honestly don't have a favorite. Each and every product has its own story. I may have to write a book one day about that. I use a different product from the line every day as our bodies can easily get accustomed, when we use something for long periods at a time. I often rotate body butters as well as body wash or beauty bars it keeps my skin cells guessing what's coming next.
Organization is key when running a business: are there any mobile applications or websites you use to keep business running smoothly?
I am an avid user of my reminders app and notes so I can stay on task, this helps me balance the life of being a mom and also a business mogul; never missing a PTA meeting and also being able to get on international calls to target new markets.
How do you unwind and get centered after a long day of meetings and product development?
Honestly speaking, my joy comes from making products. I unwind by making a new batch of body butters or beauty bars and listening to classical music. It's the only way I know how to unwind.
You mentioned that you created Kimo Bentley because your daughter suffered from eczema and the harsh steroid creams were not a sustainable option for treatment. Are your products only for people who suffer from skin disorders such as eczema?
The Kimo Bentley Brand is actually great for all skin types. You do not necessarily have to have a skin condition to use the line. If you have great skin, the brand maintains it. Our active ingredient in all of our body butters, lotions, washes and beauty bars is turmeric powder, so it will continue to add a nice natural glow and protect the skin from harsh pollutants.
You make running a company look effortless, but who helps behind the scenes to ensure the success of Kimo Bentley? Do you prefer a large, or small team of associates?
It is important to have people on your team that are knowledgeable in areas where you are not. I prefer a small, tight knit team, head of operations is run by Daron Pressley my significant other, we have two college interns, my mom who is head of promotion and last but not least my daughters Kimora and Kiara Bentley who are the co-founders of the company.
What sets Kimo Bentley apart from other beauty brands on the market for natural women and men? What special touch do you add to the products you produce?
I have said it from the start we don't only sell creams, we are a company that strives to educate our customers about their skin. No one knows your skin better than you do, so we teach you how to take care of your skin with the right tools naturally. We provide in-house workshops at our clinic in New Jersey and also Skin Treatments with our products. Our customer service sometimes spends hours on the phone helping customers select the most ideal products for their skin type. I have spent many years perfecting my skills by becoming a licensed skin therapist. Over the summer, I started studying Beauty Therapy internationally so I can actually have rights to treat clients all over the world.
What black beauty brands do you love? Would you be willing to try out Kimo Bentley?
Interview and text by Danni Roseman. Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.