Kelli Palmer of Breedlove Beauty
When Kelli Palmer started Breedlove Beauty in 2016, she had a very specific goal in mind: to create a Black-owned line of luxury hair care and skin care products made with natural, organic ingredients. Palmer’s vision for her company also included stylish packaging and sleek branding and marketing. Fortunately, her experience working in Communications and Public Relations at LSU gave her an advantage in this area. As a Black woman with natural 4c textured hair, Palmer had a lot of experience making her own products using ingredients like shea and mango butters. Soon her friends and family started requesting that she make products for them and Palmer saw the opportunity to scratch the entrepreneurial itch that had always been there: “I’ve always had the desire to be a business owner. I knew I wasn’t going to work in the corporate world forever.” Palmer’s desire to be a business owner was so strong that she resigned from her position at LSU in April 2016 even before starting the business. She devoted the next few months to getting her business off the ground, and Breedlove Beauty officially launched on July 1st.
Speaking about the benefits of being a business owner, Palmer says that the best part is “the freedom and the ability to create and sell these wonderful products, make a living for myself, and have financial freedom.” She describes herself as a creative and loves the parts of the business that allow her to tap into her artistic side: “I love the marketing aspect, doing photo shoots and the creative content side of the business.” Radiating optimism and positivity, Palmer does not focus on the challenges of running a business, but she acknowledges that finding employees has been difficult and that COVID has caused shipping delays particularly on orders for packaging supplies.
When offering advice to new and aspiring entrepreneurs, Palmer is equal parts pragmatic and inspirational. She emphasizes that “staying on top of finances is one of the most important things. Make sure you get a business account, have all the business money going into the business account and make sure to pay yourself.” She stresses that having a business account and keeping detailed records will help in the future for things like applying for a business loan or leasing a retail space. She also suggests hiring or at least consulting with an accountant, getting a payroll system if possible, and seeking out available resources like grants, small business competitions and the library’s Small Business department. Palmer’s unsolicited (but highly appreciated) library plug transitions into a discussion of her history with libraries. As a teen nerd (her words) growing up in North Baton Rouge, she recalls walking to the Scotlandville Branch Library often for ACT prep classes, to use the computer, to spend hours reading or just to get out of the house. For her, the library was a place of solitude. Today, as the mom of a toddler and an avid reader, Palmer still values the important role that the library serves in Baton Rouge.
Returning to her business advice, Palmer acknowledges that, of course, making money is a primary goal of starting a business, but she warns that, “it can’t be all about the money because there are good and bad days. Sometimes you will have all the money and sometimes you will have no money.” She encourages folks to remember that, “if this is what you’re really passionate about you can do it. If you see God doing it for others, it can happen for you too. You just have to put in the work, energy and effort that it takes to get to that point. It may take longer for you than it does for other people, but if you stay focused it’s going to happen.”
Before the interview concluded, Palmer revealed the origins of her company’s name: Breedlove Beauty. It has a dual meaning referring to her desire to “breed love into the world” with her products while also paying homage to Sarah Breedlove (the Black entrepreneur credited as America’s female first self-made millionaire) who is better known as Madam C.J. Walker.
Check out Breedlove Beauty at https://breedlovebeautyco.com/ or on Instagram @breedlovebeautyco.