How Millionaire Mogul Monique Rodriguez Expanded Her Empire Into 100K+ Stores Worldwide

It was through coping with her son's death that Monique Rodriguez founded Mielle Organics and took the world by storm.


If manifestation was a person, she would look a lot like the CEO of Mielle Organics, Monique Rodiguez. The former RN-turned-CEO went from cooking up hair products in her kitchen to being on the shelves of more than 100K stores worldwide, and recently, the full-time mommy mogul sat down with xoNecole to talk about the fruits of her labor.

While Monique's day job as an RN helped pay the bills and support her family, the one-day beauty mogul felt unfulfilled and dissatisfied with her professional life overall. It wasn't until Monique was eight-months-pregnant with her third child that she was faced with an unfathomable tragedy that would act as the catalyst for change she didn't know she needed. Her son Milan was born brain-dead and after being placed on life support, he passed away six months later. She told xoNecole, "That was obviously a very tragic experience that I went through and I was in a very dark place in my life."

Through her loss, she found solace in sharing her story and eventually grew attached to the vision God gave her to make her passion her next venture. "Honestly, I didn't know how I was going to get through that. [But] you overcome by sharing your testimony," she continued. "It's something that's so powerful about your story because you're in control over the narrative. I want people to look at me [and] I want them to see themselves in me. And to see that, listen, this was a girl who was just from the Southside of Chicago that had a dream and she was able to accomplish her dream. She had a lot of faith and little experience, but look what she was able to accomplish."

It was through taking control of her own narrative and coping with her son's death that Monique reconnected with her entrepreneurial roots, founded Mielle Organics and ultimately took the world by storm. In our chat with her, Monique lets us in on how she knew it was time to spread her entreprenurial wings, navigating the retail world as a brand, and the legacy she's creating with her More Than a Strand campaign.

Building The Brand 

After the death of her son, Monique was intentional about shifting her focus to her budding business and leveling up her faith, starting with writing a pre-dated resignation letter six months before she decided to leave her job. The CEO shared, "That first day, I sold one bottle of oil and that one bottle of oil sold like crazy. And I knew that day. I said, 'Oh, I'm going to have to quit my job because I want to give this 100 percent, because I know if I put 110 percent into what I'm doing, I can really grow this thing.' I had to choose between my career and my dreams. And I decided to choose what I love. And that was fulfilling for me every single day because when I got up to work on Mielle, it didn't feel like work."

"I knew that day. I said, 'Oh, I'm going to have to quit my job because I want to give this 100 percent, because I know if I put 110 percent into what I'm doing, I can really grow this thing.' I had to choose between my career and my dreams. And I decided to choose what I love. And that was fulfilling for me every single day because when I got up to work on Mielle, it didn't feel like work."

Eventually, Monique went from experimenting with basic ingredients found in her kitchen to working with a chemist to formulate compounds specifically catered to her client's needs. It wasn't long before she transformed from an entrepreneur into a professional problem-solver. "Every time my customers would send me products for suggestions or if they had problems with their hair, I would take their feedback and take it back to my team and say, 'OK, how can we create this?'" Monique continued, "'How can we use these ingredients to create this product to give them the benefits for their hair to solve their problem?' As an entrepreneur, you are a problem-solver."

Making Mogul Moves

Although going into retail was originally part of Monique's five-year plan, she managed to do it in one. Nearly 12 months after launching her business, she was approached by Sally's for a distribution deal that would later expand to more than 3,000 stores across the country. She told xoNecole, "When you build, they will follow. So, my focus was just building a great brand and formulating great products to increase the consumer demand. Your consumers are who dictate if you go global or not."

While being approached by big box brands may be every business owner's dream, Monique advised that product developers think twice before taking up shelf space. Monique explained, "You have to pay for your products to go on and come off the shelf. So, you really want to make sure that there is a demand for your brand because it's nice to be on Target's shelves. But if those products don't sell, that comes from your bottom line. So, if your company is not in a good financial position, I wouldn't recommend going into retail."

Breaking into an industry with thousands of competitors can be intimidating, but Monique had this advice for bosses that are looking to break into an over-saturated market: "When you go into the grocery store, you see thousands of water bottle companies, you see thousands of brand manufacturers, you see thousands of washing powder brands––you really have to just focus on your brand and what your brand has to offer and how you're different and how you can set yourself apart from everybody that's on the shelf. I always feel that as long as you are operating in your gifts and you're operating in your purpose and you're being authentically yourself, nobody can duplicate you."

"You really have to just focus on your brand and what your brand has to offer and how you're different and how you can set yourself apart from everybody that's on the shelf. I always feel that as long as you are operating in your gifts and you're operating in your purpose and you're being authentically yourself, nobody can duplicate you."

Leaving Her Legacy

As the mother of two young daughters, it's Monique's mission to equip her babygirls with all the tools they need to be successful. Momager to her eldest daughter, who one-day hopes of becoming a fashion designer, Monique told xoNecole that it's her hope that through efforts like Mielle Organics' "More Than A Strand" campaign, she can help mothers and daughters around the world gain access to entrepreneurial education.

The campaign, Monique says, is an opportunity for Black women to feel empowered as independent women who achieve their dreams and to then keep that same energy with their daughters. It's a desire that sparked in Monique as a young child, watching her mom provide for her own family. "For me, it's just [about] being that example again for my daughter to look up to so they can see that, you know? [They can say] 'my mom, she's married. She was able to still rise up and she was still able to accomplish her dreams. And because my mom was able to accomplish her dreams, it can give me the courage and the inspiration to know that I can do so as well.'"

"I just want the same thing for moms all across the country. Our purpose for teaching them about economic empowerment, education and entrepreneurship is to show that it can be done. You can be a mom, you can be a wife and you can also pursue your dreams as well."

For more Monique, follow her on Instagram @ExquisiteMo and to learn more about Mielle's More Than A Strand campaign, click here!

Featured image courtesy of Mielle Organics.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

Keep reading...Show less

As her fame continues to rise, Tiffany Haddish has remained a positive light for her fans with her infectious smile and relatable story. Since Girls Trip, fans have witnessed the comedian become a modern-day Cinderella due to the many opportunities that have come her way and the recognition she began to receive.

Keep reading...Show less

We’ve all been there: Exhausted, lacking motivation, on edge, or simply not feeling like working at all. And we might have even used up all of our sick days, not to rest from a cold or injury, but just to get a bit of relief from those job or business responsibilities. Sometimes, you're not able to shake that nagging feeling of gloom, eventually finding yourself in a toxic pattern of unhealthy habits and behaviors. There's a larger issue that goes way beyond just needing a break.

Keep reading...Show less

CultureCon is one of the top conferences for creative people of color to attend to meet fellow changemakers. The event, which is presented by the Creative Collective NYC, has attracted some of our favorite entertainers as keynote speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe x Halle, Michael B. Jordan, and many more.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts