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Julissa Prado

Founder of Rizos Curls


Tell us about your career and how it all started?

I launched Rizos Curls in October 2017 completely self-funded and with $0 marketing dollars. Rizos Curls is something that has always been in the back of my mind through college, then grad school and later while working as a sales division leader at Nestlé. I’m very close to my older brother, and he’s the one who helps me a lot with Rizos Curls. We’re very opposite. I’ve always led with my heart and emotion, and he’s ruled by logic. So when I decided I really wanted to go forward with this idea, I went to my brother with my business plan and I presented the whole plan to him. He did all this market research, because understanding your market, and the size of the demographic you’re targeting is important. He couldn’t believe a product like Rizos Curls didn’t already exist. We began working on what would later become Rizos Curls. My formulas took me 4 years to create. Meanwhile, I saved and began sharpening up on my business acumen. There were many times in that process of testing formulas that I didn’t get the results I wanted and felt like giving up, but what pushed me forward was the number of interactions I had with curly girls. I’d meet them in the bathroom, in the elevator, in dorm rooms, and they’d tell me “I love your hair.” They’d ask me “How do you get your hair like that?” Back then I‘d make my own concoctions at home to use in my hair. I made so many friends because I’d say “OK, I’ll come over and do your hair.” I’d do their hair, teach them my process, and they’d start wearing their hair naturally. I forgot how many interactions I had like that until I finally launched Rizos and all of them messaged me in support. No matter how busy I was, that was one thing that stayed consistent, I always loved teaching people how to do their hair. That’s where my heart is.

What is Rizos Curls? What inspired you to create it?

Learning to love my natural hair was a big part of learning to love myself.  The older I get, the more unapologetic I become about being Latina and my big curly hair is an important part of that. I went through many phases with my curly hair.  I hid it in a tight, gelled-down ponytail, wore it à la crunchy with extra hairspray, and even straightened with a clothes iron!  As a little girl, I saved my money to buy every curl product I found, but nothing seemed to work on my hair type. I began mixing my own product at home and I told myself that one day I would create the very best product for curly-haired girls like me. I spent years searching for the perfect formula. I wanted a product made with quality ingredients that could celebrate all curl types, from my Tia’s coily strands to my sister’s loose waves.  With Rizos Curls, I finally turned my dream into a reality.  It is an honor to be able to help other curly-haired people look beautiful and feel confident in their natural hair texture.  

What are the most common challenges as a Latina owner and what advice would you give someone starting a business?

An important lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is to get comfortable with always being uncomfortable. Becoming an entrepreneur taught me that there is SO much I don’t know, and that okay. Every day I face a new challenge, but also learn a new skill in overcoming my problem. It’s okay to not know the answer and learn as I go.

I would say this for anyone who wants to go into starting any business. Pursue your passion! You will never have all the answers, but you can reach out to the resources around you and to your community for guidance, and they will help propel you forward. Start small if you need to, and grow from there. I saved for over 5 years before launching Rizos Curls, and launched 100% self-funded. You don’t need a round of venture capital to get started and excel in your space.

Makeup in creativity what you lack in marketing dollars. Ultimately, staying true to yourself and your vision is what will allow you to connect with your customers, build loyalty and ensure your success. Be incredibly creative, both in terms of content and business processes, to stay ahead of the game and don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers for help. Some of your best ideas might come from your own customers.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Our customers and our fans who are part of this curly hair journey with us are our Rizos Reinas. I always say, Porque eres una Reina, y tus Rizos tu corona! Because you are a Queen and your Curls your crown! Rizos Curls is much more than a product, what we are building here is really a movement and a community of empowered Rizos Reinas who are proud to claim that title. When we host events, throw workshops, or through social media is when we are able to connect and come together with our Rizos Reinas, and their support means the world to me. To them, it is clear that Rizos Curls means much more than just being a hair care company. Rizos Curls is the trifecta of the 3 C’s – Curls, Community & Culture.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me is the #LatinaLadder concept of “Lifting as you climb up”. Supporting and holding each other accountable.

What's your personal mantra?

Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Once you begin to believe in yourself, others will follow. I would tell other entrepreneurs not to be afraid to make something out of nothing. Every time I feel intimidated or like I don’t belong, I tell myself to fake it, and it works every time. What you believe, how you act becomes reality. If you’re a small business, but carry yourself like your big time, people will start believing it and treat you accordingly until it becomes real.

What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?

Just go for it girl! And learn, learn, learn along the way. Reach out to your community and other entrepreneurs and let your heart and your vision lead the way. On the road to building Rizos Curls, I knew I wanted to launch this line since I was 15 years old, I had to go through college, then my masters, then corporate America, until I finally managed to launch Rizos Curls. Ultimately it was having the guts to be able to do it. There are always a million reasons not to do something, fears, and hesitations, but ultimately, I knew in my heart this is what I wanted and was meant to do.

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