For small business owners, it’s all about keeping the faith – not only in God, but in yourself and your ability to succeed. That’s what drives Ameka Coleman, founder and CEO of Strands of Faith and one of the 3rd place winners of Kapitus’ inaugural Building Resilient Businesses contest. Strands of Faith is one of five 3rd place winners, and Coleman received $20,000 to help maintain and grow Strands of Faith.
Starting her own business in 2018 took a tremendous amount of faith, courage, and hard work for Coleman, who gave up a lucrative career as a clinical researcher for pharmaceutical contract research giant PPD to become a small business owner. The Christian mother of four took the plunge into entrepreneurship when she realized that her passion was hair care.
Coleman was able to fill a need by creating a line of cruelty-free, non-toxic hair care products that
contain no parabens or silicone-based materials, yet keep hair moisturized and healthy.
“I launched the business in 2018,” said Coleman. “Prior to this, I never thought that I would one day own a business. I was in a career, Clinical Research, that I loved. It was truly a scenario of passion meeting purpose. Starting in 2006, I developed a passion for loving and embracing my natural hair and I was equally passionate about making progress in the field of clinical trials. Eventually, my science background and real-life experience merged into one to make a beautiful faith walk with purpose!”
A Wing and a Prayer
Like most small business owners first starting out, Coleman had few resources. She used a small amount of savings and personal credit cards to fund the launch of Strands of Faith, and her biggest assets during that time were support from her family and her passion for making clean hair care products. Even though she took a huge gamble by starting her own business, she found the resilience to push through the COVID-19 pandemic through hard work.
“Building Strands of Faith has been a journey of faith, hope, and resilience,” said Coleman. “If you would have told me 6 years ago that I would one day start a business, I wouldn’t have believed it simply because I didn’t have the mental fortitude, faith, and self-confidence to bet on myself. However, little did I know, my journey leading up to it was the perfect segway to creating my brand. While I was on a journey to finding myself, it resulted in me falling in love with the hair that God blessed me with. I then found great joy in encouraging and motivating other women to do the same.”
Strands of Faith has found success through some rough times, and has grown to 10 employees and dozens of product lines, as well as a successful blog on hair care. Coleman said that she plans to use the $20,000 in prize money to help expand her team and strengthen its marketing efforts to serve customers both in the US and internationally.
“This business became bigger than me,” she said. “I was led to create products that could help further the
mission by providing clean products for textured hair that would make women feel confident about their hair regimen. This entire journey has been one of faith. Starting out, I didn’t have many resources, but I didn’t let that stop me. I put my best foot forward, juggled all of the roles, and trusted God to lead the way. I was working my full-time job while also being a mom to 2 kids and a wife. It was rough but the vision made me stay committed.
“Now, as a mom of 4, I strive daily to be the best example to my kids, and it gives me great joy for them to see me keep pushing along this entrepreneurial journey. Building this business has impacted my life and others in so many ways but the most impactful way has been the reminder to simply keep the faith! This grant by Kapitus is such a tremendous blessing in allowing me to expand my team and marketing efforts so that we can continue to serve women all around the world.”
Coleman may be unusual among small business owners in that she’s achieved something that many small business owners have not: balance between her personal and business lives. Her secret is putting her family and faith first. That balance, she said, is a key part of the success of Strands of Faith.
“I did the groundwork in the beginning and worked super hard to lay a foundation, so I now have a team who has helped tremendously with taking off some of the workload. Now, these days, though the business still needs much of my time to run, my priorities have shifted, and it is all about family first! Business now comes second to my family. I intentionally did the groundwork in the beginning when my kids were younger. Now that they are older, I am super intentional about being present for them!”
Advice to New Entrepreneurs
Coleman said that the beginning days of Strands of Faith were the most difficult as they are for most small business owners, but she advised new entrepreneurs that the learning experience of launching a business is well worth it.
“I would say that the most challenging parts, in the beginning, were wearing many titles,” she said. “I now appreciate the process of first getting the experience in each role because over time it built me up to be an efficient business owner. I have learned that entrepreneurship is not just a journey by itself but, instead, it is also a personal healing journey! There will be many times where the journey may feel lonely, but this is when it becomes super important to lean on your self-confidence and focus on the past wins to get you through and, of course, God’s given strength.”
Congratulations to All the Winners
Kapitus’ inaugural BRB contest awarded $250,000 to 7 small businesses that are the epitome of strength and resilience – two crucial ingredients needed to launch and operate a small business. The first-place prize was $100,000, the second was $50,000 and five third-place winners each received $20,000. All of the winners also will receive a complimentary, 8-hour consulting/advisory session to help their business. Kapitus also looks forward to this being an annual contest starting every spring.
Learn the stories of all of our small business winners: