Lakisha Bullock is the CEO and founder of her own company, SCB Naturals, created in 2015 because even though she now works around the clock, she prefers it to having other employers tell her what to do.
I once heard mega-rich “Shark Tank” investor Lori Grenier say that “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working a 40-hour-a-week job.”
Mt. Airy resident (since 2016) Lakisha Bullock, 39, definitely would concur with that sentiment. Bullock, who dreamed of owning her own business since she was 16, is the CEO and founder of her own company, SCB (She Creates Beauty) Naturals, created in 2015 because even though she now works around the clock, she prefers it to having other employers tell her what to do.
Bullock grew up in an impoverished household in West Philadelphia, then moved to Frankford and then to Northern Liberties before it was gentrified.
“I was bullied in elementary school and beat up a couple times,” she said. “Other kids made fun of me because I had puffy hair and because I was skinny. It made my want to fix my hair and skin. I had eczema. I did not like myself and how I looked.”
Bullock dropped out of Kensington High School in 10th grade because “I just wanted to make money and live on my own. Our home was toxic, and I was not getting along with my sister.”
Lakisha started braiding her own hair and did it so well that friends asked her to do theirs. “That was my 'hustle' to make some money, and I also babysat. I eventually got to where I was comfortable with who I am. I gained weight and fixed my skin and hair. Now I am confident with who I am. I wear very little makeup.”
Lakisha was inspired when she read about Lisa Price, an African American woman who founded the beauty and skin care brand, Carol's Daughter (named for Lisa's mother), in 1993 in Brooklyn. The company, which now has 1,800 employees, was sold in 2014 by Price to cosmetics giant L'Oreal for a reported $27 million.
“I thought if she could start making the products in her kitchen and become a major national brand, so could I,” said Lakisha, who began experimenting in her home and finally came up with a skin care product from a combination of Shea butter, an oil mix and orange peels. “My sister tried it, and a few days later she said it had cleared up her skin condition. I was so excited.”
Bullock, who did get her GED, signed up for the Job Corps after dropping out of high school and wound up with a series of retail jobs; she worked her way up to manager of a clothing store in North Philly and later for Cosi restaurant in center city for nine years. But Lakisha, who also has a daughter, now 16, and son, now 8, like many other entrepreneur hopefuls, was not cut out to be someone else's employee.
So she went to Empire Beauty School in center city to learn hair, skin and nails, focusing on skin because of her own eczema. She insists that pharmacy products and even prescription products did not clear up her eczema but that her own products eventually did. She is now a licensed cosmetologist, herbalist and skin care specialist.
Her company's soaps, face, complexion and hair care products are handmade, cruelty-free and organic. She gets her Shea butter from a woman-owned business in Africa. Her company was recently featured on the TV show FYI (Saturdays, 7 p.m., Channel 6), which she said produced a flood of new orders from her website.
Her products are in a store at the Kensington Food Co-op. Every Saturday Lakisha is at the East Falls Farmers Market. She is at Attic Brewery in Germantown once a month, the Wake Coffee Shop in Ambler and Fanny Lou Coffee Shop in Fishtown. And she is trying to get her products into the three Weavers Way markets. “I've hired people to make the products because there are now too many orders to make myself. My goal is to eventually have Target and Walmart take my products.”
On social media there are many testimonials about SCB Naturals like this one from Leviusa Woodson II in January: “Five stars. I've been using the rose and charcoal soap for my face for five years … I'm so excited because I get compliments on my skin often. It hasn't looked this good, and I haven't been this satisfied with my skin in years. I look and feel amazing. My teenage son also uses the products and is seeing great results.”
According to Lakisha, “I created these products with ethnicity in mind, but I've found more support among whites than African Americans for natural, eco-friendly products. And I have definitely found that people of every ethnic group have eczema.”
For more information: @scbnaturals or scbnaturals.com. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org