On my mission to engage with diverse founders making a real impact, it made complete sense to share the journey of Jamelia Donaldson, founder of British-born beauty subscription service TreasureTress. As an entrepreneur in the industry, I must emphasize that the size of the global black hair industry cannot be understated, according to Nielsen, the average black consumer spends up to five times their counterparts on beauty. Yet high street retailers are still playing catch up, pushing willing recurring customers to seek products from archaic ‘brick and mortar’ stores that often lack variety, quality products and adequate commitment to good customer service.
Jamelia’s innovative hair product discovery platform, TreasureTress, aims to confront this challenge head-on, allowing for women with kinky/curlier hair textures to explore new products that are carefully matched to their age, hair type and preferences with a beautifully presented box of tailored hair goodies delivered to customers each month.
The Formative Years
Jamelia seems well positioned to shake up the industry as an individual with an authentic interest in hair and as a consumer herself – she casually mentions that she has spent over a decade searching and testing products for black hair. However, her journey to founding Treasure Tress was not straightforward by any means. As a teenager, her dream was to become a hairstylist, however, she came from a household where academic achievement was held in high regard. Her parent’s stance was that “you can own a salon if you wish, which would be more rewarding than being a hairstylist ”. This led her to shift her focus to obtaining a formal education, completing her International Baccalaureate qualification and setting her sights on becoming a lawyer. However, she fell a few points short of her offer to study law at Aston University and made a switch to a Business & International Relations course at Aston instead; a change which eventually paved the way to her true dreams. A real blessing in disguise.
Jamelia admits that most of the modules on her course were not particularly exciting, nonetheless, she quickly fell in love with marketing/consumer behavior and opted to take the opportunity to complete a placement year abroad. She set her sights on the bright lights and fast-paced city of New York, working in fashion and public relations whilst her peers took on placements in the banking and financial industries. Through networking within the New York circuit, she lucked out and met BJ Coleman, world-renowned publicist, founder of Coleman Entertainment Group and former assistant to celebrity entrepreneur, mother, and model Kimora Lee Simmons. Determined and focused, she took on an unpaid position where she was able to learn from the best in the game and take home key lessons in building brands into successful businesses.
On return to London a year later with a well-deserved first class degree under her belt, she was looking for a full-time role when she noticed an internship at a prestigious asset management firm. Although she knew little about the firm or the industry, she researched intensely, nailed the interview and a one-month internship converted into an offer for a full-time graduate role. The corporate chapter of her life had begun and Jamelia rationalized that, given the prestigious nature of the company and the similar roles that her peers had taken, it was the right thing to do.