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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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The World of Curls: Young CEO’s Business Briskly Unfurls

Maria Kurmlavage/Luminous 5 Photography
Barbara DelleMonache is CEO and founder of Curls Monthly, a service that sends trial hair products to subscribers nationwide. She was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2024.

By Karen Knight

Editor’s Note: Cape May County ranks 15th nationwide and first in the state as a second home destination, so this summer the Herald will be periodically featuring stories about interesting second homeowners. If you have the name of someone you would like to nominate, please email editor@cmcherald.com with the reason why and with contact information. This is the second in that series.

TOWN BANK – All the long hours, late nights and hustle and bustle that come with starting a business seem to have paid off for Barbara DelleMonache, who was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2024 as a local influencer and business owner.

As founder and CEO of Curls Monthly, a monthly subscription that sends five-plus trial-sized curl products to your doorstep along with an insert with QR codes linked to full-length educational YouTube videos on how to use the products and about their ingredients, DelleMonache comes to her family’s home in Town Bank for “peace of mind,” saying, “It helps keep me sane.”

“I’m not a beach person, so I love all of the non-beach activities,” she said, adding that she likes to bike around Town Bank, shop, walk around Congress Hall and enjoy her favorites at the C-View Inn and Lobster House deck. Her family has had a home in Town Bank since 2008.

DelleMonache is a self-taught entrepreneur who embraces her curly hair, and wants others to, as well.

Barbara DelleMonache: “Whatever you do will lead to something. Just take the time and do it.” Photo Credit: Maria Kurmlavage/Luminous 5 Photography

“When the pandemic hit, businesses, especially small businesses, had really difficult times and faced layoffs,” said the 30-year-old, who lives with her husband in Mullica Hill. “I remember washing my hair, crying about how difficult things were.

“Somehow I thought about helping others with curly hair, and started a coaching business via Zoom. I would talk about how to take your damaged curly hair and transition it to luscious hair. I had to figure it out myself.”

She remembers as a youngster that she didn’t always like her curls, using straighteners and treatments that eventually would damage her hair. She also found that the ingredients used in many of the treatments had harmful effects.

“I started making TikTok and Instagram videos on how to care for your curly hair, and about the fifth video in, I had 60,000 followers literally overnight,” she said. “I had a wait list for people who wanted coaching for their curly hair. I thought about how I could help others on a larger scale, which became Curls Monthly.”

Curls Monthly had revenues of $1.2 million in 2023, its first year in business, and DelleMonache said it has changed the lives of curly-haired girls all over the world. She tries many of the products first herself, keeping an eye on what ingredients are used to make sure they are as “clean” as possible.

“We source the products and we try them first to see how they work,” she said about her company, which boasts five full-time and four part-time employees. “Eventually, it’s up to the consumer, because everyone has their own preferences in terms of texture, smell, how the product weighs on their hair, etc.”

DelleMonache said most of her subscribers are female and range in age from 10 to 80, although the average age is 35 to 45. Some have multiple subscriptions, typically because they have children with curly hair.

She estimates that some 85% of the population has curls at some point, although other published estimates indicate about 60% of the world’s population has curly hair, many of whom live in hot and humid countries.

“There are hundreds of products on the market for curly hair, but a store will only stock four or five,” DelleMonache said. “I also link small and large businesses with my subscribers by sending my subscribers sample products.”

There were 1,000 subscribers for the products when DelleMonache started, but today Curls Monthly boasts over 5,000 nationwide. “I’m no longer using my living room as a warehouse,” she joked.

Barbara DelleMonache no longer uses her living room as a warehouse for the thousands of products for curly hair that she sells by subscription. Photo Credit: Maria Kurmlavage/Luminous 5 Photography

DelleMonache had been living in Los Angeles and New York City, hoping to establish an acting career before the pandemic hit. Once it did, she found herself back home, working for her father’s company out of their home in Town Bank. Her goal was to save money so she could move back to Los Angeles and pursue acting.

“I found I loved business and did well working for my father’s company,” she said. “But my Dad’s dream was not mine.”

She ended up using her savings to help establish her business, saying she was self-funded and self-taught.

“All my life I learned through doing,” she said, “and it seems I always take the road less traveled. I think I have a good head on my shoulders, though.”

The Forbes 30 under 30 list is judged on revenue, social impact, inventiveness and potential, and the Class of 2024 has 600 individuals on it, recognized across 20 industries.

“The morning I heard I was on the list, I screamed so loud I woke up my husband, I was so excited,” DelleMonache said. “It’s just great.”

Her goal is to “keep growing the business, sell it and live happily ever after,” and while that’s her dream, she knows she must continue to work hard.

“I read a book called, “The Science of Getting Rich,” which was published in 1910, which had some simple rules for becoming wealthy,” DelleMonache said. The book looks at the feasibility of applying mental healing strategies to financial situations.

“My two pieces of advice I give is, one, you have to be a little bit delusional when you start out,” she said. “So many people have analysis paralysis, and won’t do things out of fear. You have to put on your blindfold and just walk that plank.

“Second, the project can seem daunting, but you have to keep at it. If I knew at the beginning what I now know, I probably would not have started the business. But if you have a business, all you can do is the most you can do. Whatever you do will lead to something. Just take the time and do it.”

DelleMonache can be found @itsbarbiedelle and @curlsmonthly on Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok.

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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