Gwen Jimmere, CEO/Founder of Naturalicious.
While her hair became healthier, the time needed to maintain it was certainly a drawback. Like many other naturals, wash-day can be an all-day process. In an effort to eliminate her hair care routine to fit her son’s one-hour naptime, Gwen created her now 4-product system that does the work of 13 products in under an hour.
Gwen’s revolutionized product is not the only reason to applaud the businesswoman. Juggling business and motherhood, she also stands as the only African American woman to own a hair care patent.
“We all know about trademarks, copyrights, but patents are a whole other beast. There is a lot of misunderstanding of patent and intellectual property law in general. We as a culture aren’t really immersed in that space very often,” she said. “We as a culture are excellent at creating things but a lot of times we’re not very good at making sure we own it.”
Embarking on the arduous process of securing a patent without the help of a lawyer – which would have cost her $10,000 without guarantee of receiving the patent – Gwen relied on the push of her support system and determination to invest the sweat equity into her business.
Armed with a patent, Gwen stands on one of the highest pillars in business. She is afforded leverage to negotiate with companies interested in her product to, for instance, license her product but pay her a sum of money for each product sold. She also has power to sell the company but remain the owner of her patent, which would again provide a sum of money for each product purchased – comparable to a musician who receives royalties each time a song is played in a commercial or movie.
“It gives you leverage and can be apart of building generational wealth,” Gwen explained. “A lot of times we think about things one dimensionally, for instance, someone can say ‘I don’t have anything anyone is going to steal.’ But, what about licensing what you have? What’s to stop me as a big company to find out the recipe and sell what you have?”