Many black women search and search for ways to care for their hair naturally, and Chris Tia Donaldson was among them until she decided to figure out how to provide natural hair for black women to solve her own problem. On this episode, Rosetta chats with Chris about how she stepped out of the legal profession to begin her hair care business, what it took to make it successful, and how she manages to run such a successful and large company while still keeping her sanity. It’s a great conversation, so be sure you listen.
Building a successful business requires that you get out of your own way.
As Chris Tia Donaldson was in the beginning stages of her business she discovered that many of the things she thought were going to be obstacles to her success were only obstacles in her mind. In reality, there were ways of getting beyond those things if she would open herself up to the possibility that she could find the solutions she needed. The way she puts it is that she had to learn to get out of her own way. That’s a lesson many of us need to learn, too. On this episode of Happy Black Woman, you’re going to hear the invaluable lessons Chris had to learn in order to grow her business (and herself), and you’ll enjoy hearing the optimism and strength she’s developed as a result.
Start where you are and keep asking until someone says, “Yes.”
When Chris Tia Donaldson first launched her natural hair care products for black women she knew that a key marker on the road to success would be getting her products into retail stores. But it was scary to think of cold calling store managers or sourcing departments. How did she overcome the fear? She decided that if she wanted to get beyond where she was, she simply needed to get started and that required action. So as she made that bold step of believing in herself she discovered it wasn’t as hard as she had imagined and success followed close behind. You can hear the lessons Chris has learned on this episode of Happy Black Woman.
You don’t need everything you think you need to build your own business.
When the idea to start a business to provide natural hair for black women became an idea she couldn’t resist, Chris Tia Donaldson had no idea what to do. She was from a legal background and didn’t know the first thing about developing product formulas, coming up with packaging, and creating a marketing and distribution plan. But once she got started she discovered that she didn’t really need all the skills she had imagined she’d need. And what she did need, she was able to learn as she went. Most of us do the same thing – we imagine the difficulties we’ll face on the road ahead are greater than they really are. Don’t let your own ignorance and imagination keep you from getting started. You’ll find that just like Chris, you can learn and grow as you go, so don’t wait!
You’re going to feel fear on the way to success. It’s how you deal with it that matters.
Many women think that if they are afraid of stepping into a business opportunity then it must mean that they are not meant to be in business. But the fact is that all of us feel fear. It’s what you do in response to the fear that matters. Chris Tia Donaldson says that she has felt fear all along the way, but has learned that stepping past it to do what is required to grow her business is all it takes for the fears to hush – and for her to find success. That is one powerful insight among many that Chris shares on this episode of Happy Black Woman, so be sure you listen!
Outline of this great episode
- [0:29] Rosetta’s welcome to this episode of the podcast with her guest, Chris Tia Donaldson.
- [1:34] What IS “Thank God It’s Natural?”
- [3:52] Why Chris decided to start her company.
- [7:43] The complicated things involved in starting and building the company.
- [13:40] Tips for women who want to start a product based business.
- [16:30] What it takes to use other people’s money to grow your business.
- [19:50] How Chris stays focused and productive.
- [25:47] Dealing with fear on the journey toward success.
- [28:39] One piece of advice Chris gives to the Happy Black Woman community.
Resources & Links mentioned in this episode
- Thank God It’s Natural
- BOOK: Thank God It’s Natural
- Hire My Mom website
- BOOK: Essentialism
- BOOK: The Art of Tidying Up
About Chris-Tia Donaldson
Chris is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Thank God It’s Natural (tgin), a manufacturer of natural hair and skin care products, currently sold in Target, Whole Foods, Sally’s Beauty, and Walgreen’s. In her role, she oversees all aspects of day-to-day operations, sales, and strategic partnerships. Under Chris-Tia’s leadership, the company plans to expand into healthy snacks, cookbooks, supplements, and fitness apparel.
Chris-Tia has been featured in major media publications such as USA Today, Marie Claire, Essence, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Heart & Soul, and the Chicago Tribune. Her book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Natural Hair is a #1 Amazon bestseller, and was hailed the “Natural Hair Bible” by Essence Magazine. Prior to starting her own company, Chris-Tia represented Fortune 500 companies in complex business transactions involving technology and open source code.
Chris-Tia is also a breast cancer survivor and is deeply committed to raising awareness of this condition and the benefits of early detection among women of color. Chris-Tia earned her A.B. in Economics from Harvard University with high honors, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.