We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Rose and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before I started my natural haircare business, Ella Dean, I would always come across haircare products that contained the same carrier oils such as Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, etc. I wanted to explore better alternatives that were a lot more beneficial to our hair and scalp; that is when I decided to incorporate fruits and vegetable carrier oils and herbs into my haircare products to help with hair growth, scalp inflammation and hair loss.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Ella Dean is a natural haircare brand for men and women with textured hair. Our products are made with organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs that aid in hair growth and prevent scalp inflammation and hair loss. Ella Dean represents a unique and fresh perspective in the hair and beauty industry. Our incorporation of fruits, vegetables, and herbs sets our products apart from other natural haircare brands on the market.
Fruits and vegetable carrier oils have many important vitamins that increase the overall health of the hair compared to other carrier oils such as Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, etc. and herbs are plants with aromatic properties that are used for medicinal purposes. The ingredients I chose for my haircare products are made to keep coarse and coily hair moisturized, hydrated, and lively.
Since the launch of my brand, I have been featured on local news stations, newspapers, and digital beauty publication, BeautyMatter, and the exposure has increased Ella Dean’s visibility and sales, and I have been presented with many opportunities. One of my biggest goals is to make Ella Dean easily accessible for People of Color throughout the Pacific Northwest. As of today, my products are in three local retail stores, Drink Mamey, Mid-K Beauty Supply, and Coral Story Beauty and I am hoping to secure more locations in the next couple of months. After Ella Dean is in more stores, my next goal is to expand my brand to the Midwest and East Coast. The end goal is to be in large market-chain retailers like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Ulta, etc.
I am very proud of myself and the overall growth of Ella Dean; it has not been an easy journey, I am still dealing with obstacles and challenges but that’s what comes with being a business owner. The easy part of my journey was having a backstory and a foundation that related to Ella Dean. My great-grandparents, Benjamin and Mary Rose Dean, built our family’s salon Dean’s Beauty Salon & Barbershop in 1954 and then my grandmother, Ella Dean, started working alongside her parents in 1960. The salon is still operating and it is the oldest Black salon in the state of Oregon; it is a historical landmark. My family’s legacy is the foundation of Ella Dean; it is a wonderful and inspiring story to tell.
As for challenges, no business or brand is perfect, there’s always going to be a hurdle or a bump in the road. I graduated with a degree in Marketing at Portland State University and I can admit there were times I did not pay attention in a few of my Marketing classes and it has affected me as a business owner. I believe my business and marketing skills would be up to par had I paid attention or taken my classes seriously. I am constantly reading about business and marketing and teaching myself how to properly run my business; this isn’t something I can push the “easy button” on. I am learning business law, finance and accounting, developing business and marketing plans, and social media. The overall journey of Ella Dean is a humbling experience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When it comes to local spots in Portland, I would recommend Petite Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie for breakfast, UCHU Sushi for lunch, and Everybody Eats PDX for dinner. For drinks, my favorite spots to go with friends are Swift Lounge and Bartini.
We have over 600 food trucks; it is a huge part of Portland’s local culture. My favorite food trucks are Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen, MF Tasty, and Jojo Food Truck.
We have a lot of dispensaries in Portland but a really cool dispensary I’d highly recommend anyone to check out is Green Muse. It’s the world’s first hip-hop Black-owned dispensary. The workers are very friendly and supportive of other Black-owned businesses in the city.
I’d say one of my favorite areas to visit are the Mississippi and Alberta areas; they’re very fun and vibrant; all of the unique stores and restaurants are within walking distance. Drink Mamey, a Black-owned wellness and juice bar is located on NE Killingsworth St. (real close to Alberta), it’s new and popular; it’s basically a one-stop shop. The owner makes healthy juices and educates the Black community on health and wellness. She also carries Black-owned/Women-owned brands as well such as Noetic Plants (plant business), BODI Brand (luxury body care), The Hussle Way (health and wellness enthusiast that sells Sea Moss Gel), SHARI.CO (luxury self-care brand), and more!
The health and wellness community is very big in Portland; people are becoming more aware of what their body needs to live a healthy lifestyle. Zakami Juices is another Black-owned business; the owner is a holistic health practitioner and a personalized raw juice chef. People should also check out the Fit Factory, a fitness program operated by 2 Black women, Kayla Briana (Bodied By Kay) & Daisy Blew (Beyond Curves Fitness). It’s the perfect fitness class for you and your friends to enjoy! These are the best local spots I would take my friends and recommend to anyone!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my grandmother Ella Dean! She is a well-known retired beautician in Portland, Oregon and for 50 years she catered to the Black community throughout the city. As a young girl, I used to study her work ethics; she inspired me to become a business owner like her. From watching my grandmother interact with her clients, I learned how to create a brand, market and sell products/services, accounting, and network.
My grandma has given me the tools to run a successful business; without her words of encouragement and support over the years, I do not think Ella Dean would be where it is today. She made a huge impact throughout Portland and has created a wonderful legacy; my grandma is a true legend.