Like many business owners, Terrinique Pennerman had to quickly and creatively adapt to a new normal amid COVID-19. However, she said she not only found a way to adapt but did so well enough to see what she calls a massive upswing in sales.
Pennerman is the owner of Kurlee Belle which is a tropical Caribbean-themed hair care company created to treat the needs of curly, natural and relaxed hair types. At the beginning of the pandemic, the business saw an immediate uptick in website orders which Pennerman had not anticipated.
"Customers had to wait longer than usual to get their orders, about 10 or more business days because most of the packaging we use for our products were being sold out to create hand sanitizers," Pennerman told "Good Morning America." "In addition to that, most packaging is created in China where there was a lag in the supply chain."
After doing research, Pennerman found smaller companies that sold packaging needed for Kurlee Belle and grew business by 1,034% YOY since March, she said.
"Our retail business grew by over 100% compared to last year," said Pennerman. "We've seen a tremendous uptick in sales all around."
What inspired Kurlee Belle?
Kurlee Belle was launched in 2013 and inspired by Pennerman's personal transitions: one, away from a career as a former securities analyst, and another, transitioning her own hair from relaxed to natural.
"I always remembered my mom saying, 'I am sorry I permed your hair because it was so pretty,'" said Pennerman. She also experienced scabbing and thinning from relaxers burning her scalp. She recalls watching Chris Rock's "Good Hair" documentary where the film shows the main ingredient in the relaxer, sodium hydroxide, burning through a piece of raw chicken. After seeing that, she decided to do away with relaxers.
She searched store aisles to find products for her hair texture, and remembered while in the Bahamas, her mother would make her own hair treatments from banana, avocado, egg and mayonnaise. "So I started mixing my own treatments and butters," said Pennerman. "One day a friend said, 'your hair looks good. You should start your own natural hair care line' and that is how Kurlee Belle began."
Pennerman credits some of her hair care business' recent success to the visibility and longevity of the brand as its been around for over a decade. "We launched in 2013 but I started blogging and talking about the products from 2008-2009. So chances are if you have natural hair, you've seen Kurlee Belle pop up on your Facebook newsfeed or while scrolling through Instagram."
She also says that Kurlee Belle's expansion into Sally Beauty in addition to hiring more talent to work on specific parts of the business, and the fact that more people are at home with more time to try the products, all contributed to the sudden uptick in sales amid COVID-19.
The booming hair care business offers a variety of shampoos, conditioners, curl definers and styling products for a variety of different hair types such as coily, kinky and curly.
One product is the Kurl Defining Creme which can be applied for twist-outs, Bantu knots, braids and more. The vanilla-scented product is made with cupuacu, shea butter and argan oil to keep strands moisturized.
"If you offer a superior product or service that you believe in, the customers will find you, if you do not give up," said Pennerman. "If you have to offer your services on a smaller scale than you did prior to the pandemic then do that but do not give up. We can do many things in this life, and if you have to work a second job to take care of your family, do what you need to do but do not give up on your business because of a temporary setback."