Kim Lewis is the CEO and co-founder of CurlMix, a clean beauty brand for curly hair. Her innovative take on clean beauty hair products has won her praise from top industry publications such as Refinery29, Ebony Magazine, and ABC TV. Kim and her husband and co-founder were also featured on Season 10 of Shark Tank, a critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy Award-winning reality show.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up on the south side of Chicago with a large, extended family and a phenomenal single mom who taught me real grit. She had very hard jobs her entire life, often doing the work traditionally done by very strong men. She was in the Army and the Navy and has always been very disciplined. She instilled this in me and always pushed me to work harder.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That it’s ok to go slowly. I was ascribing to the narrative that growth had to be fast and massive. You don’t build a stable company quickly.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
One of the things I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that many people don’t know how to brand and story tell. One of the bad recommendations I hear is when people tell others to “forget about branding.” You don’t need it to start your business, but after a year or two and you haven’t seen much growth, it’s time to look at your branding and storytelling. Branding is not logos and colors. You have to figure out what branding means beyond that. There are several books that could help; Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller is a good book to start.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
When I thought about quitting CurlMix. I wasn’t sure if I needed a therapist or a business coach. What came out of that was me seeking more help with my business. That’s when I started looking for advisors and people who knew more than me, and I’ve found some of the best advisors and mentors one could ever hope for in this business.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Not being afraid of taking risks, not giving up, and knowing our worth. Our business started with Tim winning $100K on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Our first business failed. CurlMix really took off after turning down an offer on Shark Tank because they undervalued our worth. All of these experiences and choices brought us to where we are today, and to meeting phenomenal investors who understood what we were offering and we’re excited to be a part of our journey.
What is your morning routine?
I have a different morning routine when I’m fundraising. Fundraising just means I work all day! When I’m not fundraising, I typically get up around 7:00 a.m., get my coffee, go work out, do some reading or meditation and get to it. Fundraising is just non-stop work!
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Not give in too much to the emotion of the highs and lows. I try to stay very even-keeled.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Working on a Sunday night. I’m able to work for several hour blocks before I meet with my team. Then I’m able to get ahead before my team comes to me with various issues and concerns. Get in front of your team if you can!
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. It was the first book that taught me the six principles of how to influence people and I used it on my website when I first launched my business. It’s a core marketing book for anyone who is new to marketing and doesn’t understand where to start.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
One of my favorite quotes is from a group of entrepreneurs who had each sold their companies for hundreds of millions of dollars. The thing they said was “This is the fun part. Enjoy the journey.”