When 24-year old, London born Jamelia Donaldson told naturalistas across the UK, “The hunt is over”, she wasn’t joking. The founder and CEO of Treasure Tress, has been able to draw on her personal experiences and knowledge to provide an impeccable hair care service which equips young girls and women across the UK with quality products and tools to care for their natural hair. We sat down and asked Jamelia to give us the low down on how it all started.
Name: Jamelia Donaldson
Current title | Company: Founder & CEO – TreasureTress
Education: 1st Class Bsc. Business & International Relations
Website / social media pages: www.treasuretress.co.uk / @treasuretress | @jameliaisobsessed (IG) @jameliaobsessed (twitter)
What was your first job and how did you land it?
My first ‘job’ was a sales assistant role at Ted Baker which I landed through a referral by a family friend. My first ‘official’ career type job was at a Financial Services firm, which I landed through interning there, the summer before.
My career background is pretty short but varied. Throughout college/university I worked various retail jobs from Ted Baker, to Kurt Geiger to Charles Tyrwhitt. In my 3rd year of Uni (placement year) I spent a month abroad in China in a marketing role, followed by just under a year in NY in PR/Marketing for both a fashion house and Coleman Entertainment Group (clients such as Tyson Beckford. Vivica Foxx and Tatiana Ali). Upon return to the UK, I landed a internship at the financial firm which ‘kickstarted’ my career at the firm later as a graduate. I spent just under 3 years at the firm, before moving on to launch my start up – TreasureTress.
Why would you resign from a career that takes you around the world and pays good money?
For me money isn’t synonymous with success or happiness. For me, time is the most valuable asset, as with time I can make as much money as I desire and spend as much time as I please with the people I care about AND make a contribution to the world.
I realised I had something to offer the world and became fixated on this goal to merge my passion with my career. I wanted to take a chance on myself and see what I could create and how I could impact/help women in the world.
How did your family and friends react to your resignation?
They didn’t. I didn’t tell anyone not even my boyfriend until I had handed in my resignation. I had hinted it in the past and the reception was one of worry, fear and discouragement. So I decided to keep it to myself, wait until I was ready… and just do it!
There’s a lot talk about “Follow your passion and you’d be successful” what’s your take on this?
I agree and disagree. Success is subjective. If doing what you love equates to success then this is may be true for you. However for many people success is multifaceted meaning it takes a lot of hard word not only on building your business/vision but also on yourself. It is not an overnight transformation it takes a lot of work – it’s just not that simple. I dislike how it is made to seem so instant.
So , tell us about Treasure Tress?
TreasureTress is a product discovery tool for curly girls (girls with naturally kinky/curly/coily hair and those transitioning back to natural).
It is a monthly hair care box for women and girls of all ages to help them navigate the ‘natural hair’ market and discover amazing brands and products in a fun, exciting and informative way.
Each month we send 3 different boxes one for Qweens, one for Tweens and one for Mini Me’s, filled with products we love and think they’ll enjoy trying. These are a combination of exclusive boutique British Brands, and all time favourite american brands.
Why did you decide to start Treasure Tress? What inspired you?
My niece inspired me. I have always had natural hair however I did not learn how to take care of it properly until I was 21/22. I didn’t want her to have the same experience – thinking that she always needs to straighten her hair for it to be manageable / pretty. I was also frustrated with the access to quality hair products here in the UK and lack of appreciation for amazing brands here in the UK. I wanted to solve both of these problems, provide positive images of women and girls of all shades and textures using what is my favourite business model – a subscription business.
What challenges have you faced since starting this business?
As it is a start up, we are literally learning as we go along. One challenge, was that the box was available for international order. I was not aware until orders began to come in from America without the appropriate shipping being charged – oops!
I also underestimated how many hats I’d have to wear on a day to day basis. I wish I had joined forces with amazing people from the very beginning instead of thinking I can do it all alone or with little help. The business model is still surprisingly new for many here in the UK despite how long it has been around so it is interesting yet exciting introducing the model to both consumers and to businesses. Challenges really are endless, but I always see them as learning opportunities as it makes me move quicker, faster and more efficiently.
What’s a typical day for you on the job?
Wake up at 5am, meditate for 20minutes, glance at my plan for the week, check and post on social media, eat some brekky, work through emails then head to meetings/coffee shop to prepare materials for pitching to brands/general admin and analysis, I’ll then head home and get back to emails/social media to ensure I am constantly up to date with trends, new releases and responses to our latest box. Watch some YouTube or listen to podcasts whilst I wrap up my day
Basically I’m glued to my inbox and laptop!
What do you love most about your job and what do you dislike the most?
I love that I am in full control of how my day goes, my month, my year and my life.
I love that I am working on something I wholeheartedly believe in.
I love that it has introduced me to the most amazing people ever.
I love that I am able to make an impact on someones life – even if it is just the 30secs it takes them to open a box, or the 2hours they spend pampering their hair with the products inside the box.
I dislike how it often feels like there is never enough time in a day, or that I for the majority of time am alone – can be pretty lonely.
It’s really character building.
If you could go back and make any changes, what would they be?
I would have started earlier and spoken to more experienced business owners earlier.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
You’re good, you’re enough, you don’t need to be what they want you to be, you are not responsible for living the life they wish they could have. Live your life on your terms NOW and own it!
Have you ever had a moment where you felt “Yes, starting this business was the best decision ever” if so, tell us about it.
Definitely. I would have to say most recently, when I sat down/ had phone calls with the TreasureTress Team (my subscribers) I had that feeling again. The women I spoke with were so grateful for the service, understood the mission of the brand, and were really encouraging altogether. At that point I thought – yes I am doing the right thing.
What is the future for you and Treasure Tress?
The future is really exciting. Growth is always at the forefront, both continuing to grow and develop as a person, growing the business, refining the business and expanding.
I’m constantly working out ways to service more women within the UK and beyond. The goal is to have natural hair normalised, as in from birth young girls/women know what their natural hair looks like and make their own choice as to how they would like to wear it. Conscious of the health risks and complications their decisions can create.
What advice would you give to people wanting to start a business in the beauty industry?
Go to events, make at least one meaningful connection at each event you attend, stay in contact with the people you meet and just keep doing this.
If you have an idea already, just start and find a mentor/advisor before you launch (wish I had done this!). Just make it happen – don’t overthink it!
What’s the most important advise you have received that you would like to share with other female entrepreneurs?
Ask for what you want. – I feel like this is something I am still getting comfortable with. I haven’t explicitly been told this, but what I’ve noticed since watching women I truly admire is that they demand what they want with the same confidence and level of expectation as men – if not more. Whenever you’re a minority whether it be gender or race- you have to be better and you have to be confident and direct.
One thing that makes you | your business ” Younique”
Intuition. I am literally allowing myself to listen to what I enjoy and continuing to follow the signs I consistently pray for.
With my business I am consistently listening to what those who support my business want to see more of or struggle with.
I was born to help women feel naturally beautiful and so was my business.
I am learning as I go along, and I am sharing the experience.
To order a lovely Treasure Tress Box visit the website.