Taking care of a family is hard for two people, but we do it with one parent. One of the challenges of raising children alone (besides spending time with them and having the energy to do so) is providing for that family. This desire to provide is the reason many of us work a full-time job and have a side business/passion. But this mom proves you can do both: Start a business that gives you time for family and provision in one. Mahisha Dellinger is CEO and Founder of CURLS.

Today’s successful single mom is a former single mom who took her dream of entrepreneurship all the way “from the projects to the penthouse.” Her story had its moments, yet she prevailed. I sat down to interview this inspirational former single mom for insight that you and I can use on our journeys to becoming successful.

The Backstory

I attended an amazing brunch in May sponsored by CURLS. I chose the VIP option not knowing I’d end up sitting next to the panelists.(Yasss) I should be ashamed, however, because I didn’t know who Mahisha Dellinger was or any of the other fabulous ladies. I simply love my natural hair, want more education on it, and enjoy a fabulous brunch.

Well, chile! I sat down on the right side of this beautifully decorated table in this amazing space unsure what the day would hold. Distracted with promoting a TV show, I didn’t notice this flawless beauty sitting next to me.  [Pause. If you have not been getting out and going to events like this, stop it. It was fabulous. Make time to build you up and go meet other people.] Sitting next to her was Mahisha. And I still didn’t know I was talking to the panelists and guests of the hour. [Tip: Focus when at these types of events. Don’t be like me]

Wow! Did the ladies know how to engage us! I eventually put my phone down to enjoy a networking activity they had us do which required movement. Then, it was time to sit. Excited and still eating very well, I turned to the stage. What came out of these ladies mouths was pure inspiration. “What! She’s a single mom?” I thought. When Mahisha shared, I knew you, me, we needed her story. I waited afterwards, chatted with other entrepreneurs and naturalistas, looked for her, and she was gone. Sad face.

As fate would have it, I still got to interview Mahisha. How? I reached out on social praying she’d say yes. Mahisha was warm and welcoming and said yes immediately. I got the interview because I didn’t stop at what I saw with my eyes. I didn’t let fear have the last say. What are you missing out on by not making a move? Hmm.

Our interview was fire. I could talk to her all day because I had so many “Ah Hah” moments. We talked about so much in 30 minutes, I felt greedy asking more questions. Listen, from filming a new TV project for women business owners, to providing girls in the community with mentors, to winning in entrepreneurship, to raising beautiful babies and finding love as a single mom this is going to be good. Keep reading because Mahisha is teaching you how to be a successful single mom.

The Mahisha Dellinger Interview

Question 1: So, Mahisha. I know a little about your story. What was the catalyst for you forming Curls?

Mahisha Dellinger: I was working for Intel and experiencing racism on the job. I knew I had maybe 6 months and I began to look for what I could do to sustain myself and my family. I even did pharmaceutical sales for a while to support us. I started my business the same year I got married. I got married in February and launched the biz in April. I had a choice to make. Should I put the little money I did have after quitting my job into my business or have a wedding? We didn’t have a wedding. I put it in my business.

K: Are you going to give yourself the big wedding?

Mahisha Dellinger: Yes, we did a vow renewal a few years ago in Cabo. But this is a milestone anniversary at 15 years. So, we’re planning a wedding.

K: Awww, I love that! It was a good investment. I know you’re glad you said wait on the wedding.

Mahisha Dellinger: Absolutely. And I thank that racist bigot for treating me like that. (We then chatted about how God uses these tough moments to steer us toward destiny)

Question 2: How long were you a single mom?

Mahisha Dellinger: I was a single mom for 5 years and then I met my husband. We married when my oldest was 7.

K: Do you recall any challenges to dating with you having a child and him being single with no kids?

Mahisha Dellinger: No. I didn’t have any. I wasn’t looking for anything.

Question 3: What were some of the challenges of blending your family? You mentioned an ex and having 3 babies with your new husband.

Mahisha Dellinger: We didn’t have any challenges per se among our family. But, blending the step-families was a challenge. My daughter’s father remarried and that was a challenge. We worked through it and smoothed things out. I also have a great support system.

K: A lot of people give up and continue to argue. Most people don’t understand that communication can, as you say, “Smooth things out.”

Question 4: What tips do you have for moms who want to build a business and need to balance family? 

Mahisha Dellinger: My mom helps me a lot. My husband is very beneficial. We worked together and did what was needed in the early years. When I was able to afford it, I outsourced the things I wanted to do but couldn’t. I had to run a business, and I wanted to spend time with my babies. It was too much.

If it’s a busy weekend and I need to work, then my husband will step in. If we both need to travel, my mom will step in and watch the kids. It’s important to have a good support system because there are a lot of emotional landmines when building a business. Support is uber important. The opportunity cost of me cleaning my house was too great. I could be playing with my kids, so I realized that and got the help I needed.

K: Did you ever have guilty feelings about outsourcing some things? You know how society tells us we have to do it all?

Mahisha Dellinger: I never got guilty about outsourcing the cleaning. I keep the cooking. I love doing that.  But, we work it out. I wanted to be there, and I knew I didn’t want my kids in daycare. I wanted to teach them how I want them to do things, so getting a nanny blessed me. The hardest part for me was the travel because I’d have to be away from family. That’s the hardest part.

Question 5: What is a good place to start for those moms with dreams of owning a business?

Mahisha Dellinger: SCORE. They pair you with seasoned veterans in your area of industry. I went to them with my idea and they helped me with so much. When I got the huge deal with Target, I went back and they helped me again. They offer free classes and resources.

On top of mentoring, they offer classes every single weekend. It is a free resource. Take advantage of SCORE. Everywhere I go, I talk about SCORE. There are branches in every major city. The government wants to encourage entrepreneurship.

Steps to start a business that SCORE can help with per Mahisha:

  1. Make sure your business is viable
  2. Get a mentor with score
  3. Get your marketing plan together and help to execute it
  4. Get prepped to be an entrepreneur

Question 6: I hear you have an organization for young girls to give back. Tell us about it.

Mahisha Dellinger: It’s on Facebook and Instagram it’s called Curls Girls Rule the World

We connect young girls of color to mentors to help them to and through where they want to go in life. We do this from city to city. It is impactful, and we go one mentor at a time. We bring them in, connect them with their mentor, and it is a life-long commitment; so we have to make sure it’s a good fit. Follow #CGRTW on Instagram.

The challenges for young girls of color are information, access, and resources. If you don’t know how to change your destiny, how do you go from the projects to the penthouse?

K: WOW! I love that. Wow! (Got my life on this interview)

Question 7: What’s up next for you? I heard you say something about a show on Own?

Mahisha Dellinger: Yes, Oprah realized that there is a surplus in the growth of black-owned businesses and only 4% make it to the million dollar mark. She wants to talk about that and help along the way. The show is like Iyanla Fix My Life meets The Shark Tank meets The Profit. It’s geared toward helping women of color advance their businesses. They are either new, struggling, or existing businesses that need help so we can get their businesses to where they need to be. We shot the first initial run to show proof of concept to the network, and we’re gearing up to shoot more shows and scout for more ladies. (Ladies of DFW, if this interests you, contact the casting director).

K: Wow! This has been amazing. Thank you for giving of your time and knowledge. I know this is going to bless women.

Ladies, is this not inspirational!? I enjoyed every bit of this interview and I must admit I went to research Mahisha Dellinger a little more after our call. I downloaded her book, and what I found was pain, triumph, and a woman who refused to lose. Her story is unfortunately what many young women have had to endure. I’m so glad she knew where she came from and what happened to her was not all that God had in mind. It’s a beautiful story and one I recommend you read.

Do yourself a favor and get Mahisha’s book, “Against All Odds: From the Projects to the Penthouse.” It is all that and then some. As an author myself, you know I must have been touched. Well-written, authentic, inspirational and full of tips you can use to change your life.  Also check out SCORE and look out for her upcoming show on OWN.

The Successful Single Mom series will run weekly through the summer on KaywandaLamb.com. Get ready to be inspired!

Want more?

You’ll love this successful single mom: Gwen Jimmerre of Naturalicious. 

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