The Mane Choice Founder on Growing Her Hair Care Empire

They say necessity is the mother of all creations. For Courtney Adeleye, The Mane Choice founder and CEO, that statement rings true.

Unable to find adequate products to meet her hair care needs, the Alabama-based entrepreneur took matters into her own hands—literally— and concocted various products to treat and care for her hair. Through sharing the results of her homemade mixtures, Adeleye’s videos attracted a large following and gained the trust of countless viewers.

In less than four years, The Mane Choice, which offers a wide variety of multi-cultural hair care and bath and body products is sold in several major retailers including Target, Sally Beauty, CVS and most recently Walmart. In fact, the brand made history by being the first hair vitamin to be featured in the hair aisle (they’re usually reserved for the vitamin aisle). In 2016, the company garnered over 6.5 million dollars in sales, making Adeleye a self-made multi-millionaire seemingly overnight. But we all know that it takes a lot of hard work, determination and business skills to make it to this level.

Earlier this month, I caught up with the nurse-turned-entrepreneur to talk about her rise through the hair care ranks, advice for entrepreneurs and more.

Courtney Adeleye

CEO/Founder of The Mane Choice, Courtney Adeleye

Below, check out our Q&A:

BGG: Describe The Mane Choice customer.
Courtney Adeleye: Here at The Mane Choice, we pride ourselves on providing premium healthy hair care products at an affordable price. Our mission is to create the best solutions for all hair care challenges and total body needs in the beauty space. Like our comprehensive approach to hair and body care, our consumers are very knowledgeable about products and look for items that can remedy multiple hair care concerns. We are just happy to be their main choice for a solution.

BGG: Was working in the beauty/haircare industry a lifelong goal? 
CA: No, I didn’t have an interest in working  in the beauty industry. My background is in science–nursing, specifically. As a YouTube personality, I created a video showcasing my length and shared my deep conditioner recipe, which was partially responsible for my length. I received SO MANY responses and feedback suggesting that I sell my deep conditioner. I had no intentions of doing that, but long story short, I eventually did. One order became two, three, and so on…

BGG:  Did you take any supplementary business courses as a result of pursuing entrepreneurship?
CA: No, I did not formally take any business courses. However, I did my homework on the industry and took what I learned from my nursing background to get to where I am today.

BGG: Did you have mentors in the business prior to launching The Mane Choice? If so, how has their mentorship impacted your business?
CA: Other than past experiences, working closely to the owner/CEO at my former jobs and studying how other business owners conducted business, I didn’t have any mentors prior to launching mine. In my experience, my faith and family were two of the biggest impactors on my business. I have been blessed with a powerful support system and a committed team at The Mane Choice. It becomes easier when people support and buy into your vision. I am especially thankful.

BGG: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?
CA: I strive to commit to having a positive outlook on life and my company, and focus all of my energy on new ways to best serve The Mane Choice customers. However, doubt from others, not myself, can often try to negatively impact how you view your success and what you’re striving towards.

BGG: What advice would you give a fellow entrepreneur who suffers from self-doubt?  
CA: If there is someone who feels doubted, I would tell them to be so good that they can’t ignore you! I think it’s especially important to focus on and hone your strengths and abilities. Always strive to be the best, the hardest working, and the most knowledgeable. It’s hard to ignore value. I would also remind he or she that in times where there isn’t a way that there is always the option to make one. I think the evidence of this is shown through the multitude of girl [and men] bosses around the world.

BGG:What advice do you have for women, particularly women of color, who want to pursue a career in the beauty/haircare industry? 
CA: My advice would be to strive to be the best at what you do. Do your research and make sure the presentation is just as great, or better than the product or service that you offer.

BGG: Is there any significance behind “purple” being incorporated into your brand or is it simply just a design choice?
CA: We chose purple because it is a regal/royal color. Royalty is what our brand embodies. Royalty depicts the consumers we represent.

BGG: What’s the single most important thing a woman can do to promote healthy hair growth?CA: Consistency is key. Developing a healthy hair growth regimen is paramount to a successful hair growth journey. Using quality products made with quality ingredients, such as The Mane Choice, and adopting great hair care practices will get you to your goals in no time!

BGG: Outside of the hair vitamin, what’s your most popular product? Why do you think it’s a top seller?
CA: Our 3-in-1 is next in line. There’s no other product on the market like it. It’s co-wash and detangler that you can leave-in. Talk about a game changer!

BGG: What makes the Mane Choice different from similar products on the market?
CA: As many may or may not know, my husband is a physician and I am a registered nurse. Together, our backgrounds in science have helped us to formulate our products based on extensive research, for all hair types and textures by infusing each product with vitamins, Biotin, and nutrients. We have successfully developed a comprehensive array of products that can cater to a multi-cultural demographic.

BGG: Describe the most rewarding aspect of your career thus far.
CA: The most rewarding aspect of my career and leader of my company is knowing that The Mane Choice has made such and impact in the lives of others! That impact has created such a demand for our products that we’re now in over 16,000 stores.

BGG: What’s next for The Mane Choice?
CA: You’ll just have to stay tuned. Trust me!

Have you ever used The Mane Choice? If so, what is your favorite product(s) and why?

Move Over Beyoncé, There’s Another Lemonade to Rave About

While the world is still buzzing about Beyoncé’s epic “Lemonade” album, there’s another lemonade that deserves just as much attention, and this one happens to be an actual beverage!

Me & the Bees Lemonade is a refreshing line of homemade lemonade whose founder is only 11 years old. Founded in 2009 by a then 4-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, the Texas-based brand started as a lemonade stand and has since flourished into a full-blown business.

me and the bees lemonade

After getting stung by two honeybees, Mikaila’s curiosity turned into learning everything she could about the insects. To her surprise, she discovered that the furry creatures weren’t just a nuisance, but an integral part of our food chain. That’s when she decided to use honey as her personal way to help the bugs that once caused her temporary pain.

Made from her great-grandmother’s recipe, the flaxseed-enriched lemonade is available in four delicious flavors: Ginger (my fave!), Iced Tea, Mint and Prickly Pear and are high-fructose corn syrup, preservative and additives free! Plus, a portion of all of the profits goes to organizations working hard to further help honeybees.


Click here to find out where you can purchase Me & the Bees Lemonade.

Tech giant Microsoft is helping Mikaila to grow her business with a Small Business Makeover, creating a Windows 10 app to help with ordering, labeling, fulfillment and more.

I recently caught up with the 6th grader at Microsoft’s Dream.Create.Do. event in New York City to chat all about her business, her favorite subject and what she likes to do in her spare time.


Check out our quick Q&A below:

BGG: How did you come up with the delicious flavors?
Mikaila Ulmer: Mint was the original. My company is based in Austin, Texas so there’s so much Prickly Pear here. So it’s like a cactus plant. in Texas so I thought it would be a great idea to use into my lemonade. It has a great unique taste and there’s no other Prickly Pear lemonade! My brother does pretty much everything I do—so, he wanted to create a ginger flavor of my lemonade. As for Iced Tea, it’s very popular in South Carolina where my great granny lives, so I decided to mix iced tea in my lemonade and make it like an Arnold Palmer.

BGG: Where can we buy your lemonade?
MU: We’re sold in L.A., Atlanta, Seattle and Whole Foods Markets in the southeast region of the country. We’re also sold in many local stores throughout Texas. We’re looking to go national with Whole Foods Markets!

BGG: What’s your favorite flavor?
MU: I love them all, but I enjoy drinking the ginger one in the morning because it has a nice kick. When i’m super sluggish in the morning and I don’t want to get up, it will get you up in 5 seconds!

BGG:What’s been the best part about running your own business?
MU: Going to different events and meeting a lot of cool poeple. The other day I met the CEO of Microsoft and I did an entire presentation with him. Also, I had the opportunity of speaking at Microsoft’s YouthSpark at We Day, where there are so many inspiring people . I went to the one in L.A. and Seattle and they were both really fun.

BGG: I know you’re a busy young lady, but what do you like to do for fun?
MU: I like to rollerblade, garden and hang out with my friends. Most people think that I run my business all day without making any time for myself. School is the priority, then the business, but I always make time friends and my brother.

BGG: What’s your favorite subject in school?
MU: I love my history teacher; he’s super fun! He makes learning fun. I also like science because we get to go into caves at school.

BGG: How do you use Microsoft to help run your business?
MU: I use Office 365 to do PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets and Word to type up different documents. I also use Microsoft Skype and Sway to inspire other kids. Sway is a creative way to present things in less than five minutes. I’m also learning how to code with Microsoft spark hub so I can help run my website. Oh and I also use my Surface Pro and my Microsoft band.

BGG: What do you the most about your Microsoft Band?
MU: You can send texts on it! It’s pretty cool.

Have you ever tried Me & the Bees Lemonade? Did you ever have a lemonade stand when you were a kid? 

Exclusive Interview: New ‘Rush Hour’ TV Series Star Justin Hires

It’s hard to believe that the original movie, “Rush Hour,” starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan hit theaters nearly 20 years ago! Admittedly, I loved the first film, but skipped the sequel and following installments.

Now, the runaway franchise is revving up a fresh new twist by bringing the story of Detective Carter and Detective Lee  to the small screen.

I caught up with Justin Hines (Detective Carter), the star of the action-packed CBS-produced series to get the scoop on the new show and more!


Check out the Q&A below:

BGG: Who was the first person you called when you landed the lead role as Detective Carter on “Rush Hour?” Describe that moment.

Justin Hires: I believe it was either my mom or wife. They both sent me to voicemail. It’s always good to have people in your life to keep you humble.

BGG: What was the audition process like for the role?

JH: It was a super last minute audition. Originally, I couldn’t audition because I was attached to a pilot at another network, but CBS couldn’t find a “Detective Carter” they were completely satisfied with; so they had one final audition and allowed me to come in. Fortunately, I had a great audition and two call back auditions later- I booked the role!

BGG: I’m sure you were already a huge fan of the “Rush Hour” films, which one was your favorite?

JH: Rush Hour 2 is my favorite! That’s the one when they go to Hong Kong. Their characters were even more developed in that one, they were best friends by then, the comedy and action was in top form. I genuinely love all 3 of those films.

BGG: How will the TV series differ from the feature films? What can viewers expect?

JH: I think the TV series is a little younger and hipper than the movies. Chris Tucker was always hip, but you get a slightly younger vibe from us. Also, we try to make sure we’re bringing our own personalities to the characters- so we’re definitely not doing Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan impressions on the show.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.13.16 PM

Photo courtesy of CBS

BGG: Past or present, who gives you the greatest comedic inspiration?

JH: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Chris Rock would have to be my top 3. After that, Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, Marlon Wayans, and Bernie Mac. Can you tell I’m a comedy nerd?

BGG: I know that being a young black male in Hollywood can be tough, what keeps you motivated?

JH: I’m a strong believer in “nothing is impossible.” So, I keep going until I accomplish the things many thought couldn’t be done. Every little bit of success I achieve, motivates me to accomplish something more. Also, my rent and car payment motivates me everyday.

BGG: Once the series premieres, are you prepared for the catapulting fame that’s sure to come?

JH: I believe I am. I’ve been acting professionally for 10 years. This will not be an overnight success story, even if people think it is. I’ve been through a lot in Hollywood and fortunately those things will help keep me not only grounded, but prepared for this potentially great next faze of my career.

BGG: Are you a social media fan? If so, who are some of your favorite people to follow? Why?

JH: I’m kind of a social media fan. I started out doing YouTube videos when I first moved to LA, then stopped periodically to focus on my stand-up and acting. However, some of my close friends are big on social media- King Bach, Alphonso McAuely, and Page Kennedy (also one of my cast members on “Rush Hour”) all have really funny content online.

BGG: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

JH: Having a fledging movie career. Also, producing other television shows. My goal is to create an urban “Judd Apatow” type camp for film and TV. I know several funny and talented actor/comedians who are stars and just need the right TV and film roles to showcase their talent. I would love to be the person to help initiate that. I’m a huge believer in reaching back to help others.

BGG: When you’re not filming, what do you like to do for fun?

JH: Do stand-up comedy, watch movies, and just spend time with my family. I’m a simple man.

Watch a sneak peek of the series below:

Be sure to tune in to “Rush Hour” when it premieres on CBS Thursday, March 31st at 10pm EST. Were you a fan of the “Rush Hour” franchise? Will you be watching the new TV series?

BGG is COCOTIQUE’s Blogger of the Month!

I have some pretty exciting news to share…COCOTIQUE has named me their Blogger of the Month for August!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, COCOTIQUE is a monthly subscription beauty service that caters to us BGs. If you’re always on the hunt for the best beauty and hair buys, but aren’t sure you want to commit—this service is for you! Instead of purchasing full-size pricey shampoos or luxe liners that you’ve been eyeing, COCOTIQUE allows you to test out these products without breaking the bank.

Each month you will receive samples from skin care, hair care, fragrance, nail and lifestyle companies delivered to your doorstep for only $20/per month! How cool and convenient is that? Plus, it’s a cost-effective way to satisfy your beauty and hair product fix.

That’s why I’m beyond honored to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on blogging, style and of course beauty with the innovative, BG-owned brand. Be sure to check it out here and pass it on! 😉



Click here for the entire Q&A.

Do you subscribe to any beauty or hair subscription services?


Digital Spring Cleaning: PayPal VP Shares 5 Tips To Keep Your Online Space Safe

Many of us have already packed away winter clothes and finished our spring cleaning, but have we tidied up our digital space? The answer is probably no.

Research shows that each year thousands of Americans are victims of an online crime. In fact, one in four people will become victims.  That’s why it’s so important for us to take  take the time to protect and manage our online footprints accordingly.

Since Internet activity is such an extension of our real-world lives, it’s important for us to use the necessary precautions to properly maintain and monitor our social media profiles, photos and other personal accounts.

I recently caught up with Carey Kolaja, the VP of Global Consumer Products at PayPal, to get tips on what we can do to help ensure that our digital personas stay secure so we can continue to surf the web safely and smartly.

Check out the Q&A below: 

BGG: Why is it  important for individuals to occasionally clean up their digital profiles?
Carey Kolaja: Cleaning up your digital profile is important because it helps to keep you organized and polished. How many times have you forgotten a password or wished you backed up important memories from your digital or mobile device? Keeping an organized digital life will help to avoid unnecessary password leaks and missing memories. And on a personal level, it also gives you a chance to double check that your profiles are current – from updating your photos to freshening up your personal bio.

BGG: What are a few rules of thumb individuals should keep in mind when cleaning up their social media accounts?
CK: When changing your passwords, never make it something obvious. Try adding symbols like an underscore that will make it harder for a hacker to figure out. Also, upload personal photos and videos frequently to a web based home. Streamlining your digital albums will give you peace of mind in knowing that your precious personal content won’t get lost or deleted.

BGG: Apps are such an important part of our digital lives, what’s the best way to manage them so that your phone isn’t cluttered and that you use them optimally?
CK: People’s schedules and lives are constantly changing and apps are supposed to make your life easier. Reevaluate your apps every few months to make sure they are relevant to your life as it changes. For example, if you recently attended a conference and downloaded an app that would help your experience while you were there, now is the time to delete it from your phone to clear room for other content.

BGG: How can you manage an overflowing inbox?
CK: Try unsubscribing to unwanted newsletters and deleting unnecessary emails that crowd your box. You’ll see it drastic reduction in your email folders.

BGG: If an individual can only do ONE thing as it pertains to spring cleaning their digital lives, what should it be?
CK: Of course, when it comes to cleaning up your digital life it varies from person to person. One of PayPal’s main priorities is the safety and security of people’s personal information, therefore when cleaning up your digital life, always make sure your passwords are up to date and secure.

Do you occasionally clean your digital profiles by updating passwords, etc.? Has your online life ever been compromised? 

Exclusive Interview: Rapper Trina Talks Beauty, Food, Music and More!

Hip-hop fans may know Trina as “The Baddest Chick,” but the popular rapper is expanding her résumé and  branching out into the beauty world.

The thirty-something Miami native is currently serving as the brand ambassador for Body of Royalty. Tapped by the cosmetics company earlier this year, Trina will be the face of their mink eyelash line.

Described as a brand for women who are confident, provocative, and create their own definition of beauty—Body of Royalty seems to have chosen the perfect “queen” for this campaign. Recognized for her curves, bold eyes and self-assurance, Trina exudes an independent attitude that the brand celebrates.

I recently caught up with her to discuss this partnership, her sex symbol status, the products she can’t live without and more!




Body of Royalty 100% Mink Eyelashes are available here, $24


Check out the Q&A below:

BGG: Tell me about your partnership with Body of Royalty and why did you decide to team up with them?

Trina: I am a fanatic of eyelashes and I think they have a nice quality of products. Again, I’m a huge fan of lashes. The fact that they have 100% mink top and bottom lashes is what initially drew me to the brand. I love the lipstick and makeup too. For anyone who loves to get dressed up love to wear lashes.

BGG: What do you think separates their lashes from different brands?

Trina: The quality is outstanding. You can wear them up to 25 uses before having to toss them out.

BGG: Before being in the spotlight, were you always a makeup girl?

Trina: Yes, I always enjoyed getting dolled up. I grew up surrounded by a bunch of women so you know there were always hair/makeup, clothes, shoes and other girly things around.

BGG: Aside from eyelashes, what are some of your must-have beauty products?

Trina: I’m a really big fan of facial cleansers, eye serums and simple moisturizers. I’m in Miami, but I have to have them wherever I go.

BGG: You’ve had many hairstyles throughout the years. Are there any hair trends that are off-limits?

Trina: I don’t know because I’m really just a throw-my-hair-into-a-ponytail kind of girl. I don’t like styles that are too neat or too done. I don’t think I’ll ever go too crazy with colors. I stick with my main two: goldish-blonde or black.

BGG: Everyone knows that you’re a considered a sex symbol in the hip-hop community. When do you feel the sexiest?

Trina: I think I’m the sexiest when I’m happy because it brings out a lot of confidence.

BGG: When you’re not making music or playing around in makeup, what do you do for fun?

Trina: I prefer to do absolutely nothing. I love to relax. But, if there’s a beach around that’s where you’ll find me.

BGG: You’ve had a long successful career in the music industry. What advice would you give an up-and-coming artist?

Trina: I would tell him/her to be focused because this industry is nothing to play with—only the strong survive. You have to be determined and know exactly what you want and stay true to who you are no matter what because there are a lot of ups and downs.

BGG: Past or present, whose celebrity style do you admire the most?

Trina: I would say Diana Ross because she’s always been so glamorous, fabulous and ladylike.

BGG: What would fans be surprised to know about you?

Trina: With all of the social media and blogs out there I don’t know. (laughing) But, people probably wouldn’t know that I cook a lot. Because I travel so much, people wouldn’t imagine me cooking like a big Thanksgiving dinner.

BGG: What do you enjoy cooking the most?

Trina: I’m a huge seafood lover; I could cook it everyday.

BGG: What are a few of your TV guilty pleasures?

Trina: I don’t really have any. Every now and then I get nosey and see what’s going on on TV, but again I’m traveling so much I miss all the good stuff. I am excited and looking forward to watching Nene Leake’s new show with Kim Zolciak (“The Road to Riches”). Also, Lifetime is my favorite to watch when I have TV time.

BGG: What can fans expect from you regarding your upcoming music?

Trina: I have a bunch of different songs that were recorded for the album. The music is energetic, fun, sexy, vulnerable, and just a fun album.

Do you occasionally wear false eyelashes? If so, what’s your favorite brand? Are you a fan of Trina’s?


Exclusive Interview: Actress Tasha Smith Dishes on Zane Books, Friendship & ‘Empire’

Tasha Smith is the kind of actress whose roles are so infectiously relatable that she instantly becomes that “friend in your head.”

For over 20 years, Smith, 43, has been gracing our big and small screens. I first remember seeing her serve as Tyra Banks’ friend and go-to acting coach on the reality modeling competition show, “America’s Next Top Model.” I recall watching her give the aspiring models a crash course in acting with funny, over-the-top antics that made her memorable.


Since then, Smith has gone on to become one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. She’s played roles in several Tyler Perry productions including “Daddy’s Little Girls, “Why Did I Get Married,” its sequel and current spin-off television series, “For Better Or Worse,” plus a host of other movies and TV shows.

Smith’s big personality, quick wit and humor often translate into her roles, but not all the time. In fact, the New Jersey native showed a more subdued, serious side as psychotherapist “Dr. Marcella Spencer,” in last year’s steamy feature film, “Addicted.”


“Addicted” is currently available on DVD here.

Now, in a recurring role on Fox’s breakout hit, “Empire,” Smith is continuing to show viewers that she’s an actress who can take on just about any character—well, she is an acting coach after all!

I recently caught up with the actress where she talked about Zane’s erotic books, why “Empire” is the modern day “Martin,” friendship and more!

Check out the Q&A below:

BGG: You’ve played so many roles in your career. What character did you learn the most from playing?
Tasha Smith: That’s a great question. A long time ago I had done a Jerry Bruckheimer TV movie where I played an astronaut stuck out of space. We thought we were going to die. That was before a lot of the comedy stuff I had done came out. I learned a lot. My character had a son and was married and lived with the fear of never seeing her family again. Her fight to survive was really important. At that point in my life, I wasn’t really honest about fear. You might meet people who say they don’t have any fears because they have faith. But, I believe that all of us have some kind of fear. I learned a lot discovering the fears of that character. It was a wonderful learning experience for me.

BGG: Who was your biggest inspiration for becoming an actress?
TS: I have to really go back to my best friend. I have people who inspire me now, but when I was young with a dream at 15 years old I met who is my best friend to this day, Tisha Campbell-Martin. We have been best friends since we were 15. I’m the godmother of her youngest son, Ezekial. She had come to Camden, NJ with a guy she was dating. At the time I was just a girl from Camden, so to meet her was very inspiring. She was the hotness, honey! That was Tisha Campbell, baby! She inspired me and taught me about integrity, character, work ethic, professionalism and how to behave on the set, etc. When I moved to California and Tisha got “Martin,” I also worked as her assistant. Through that time I really learned a lot.


Tasha Smith with her best friend of 15 years, Tisha Campbell-Martin. Photo Courtesy of Smith’s Instagram

BGG: Prior to landing the role as Dr. Marcella Spencer in “Addicted,” were you a fan of Zane erotic novels?
TS: Listen, first of all Zane’s books…let me stop! (laughing) I was very familiar with her as an author. I wasn’t one to sit and read her books all the time because I went through this time in my life where I was celibate and reading Zane’s books was not helping me to do that! All you want to do is have sex after reading Zane books!

BGG: I know that you’ve spoken openly about being a Christian, does your faith ever conflict with roles you’re approached to play?
TS: Absolutely not! I’m an actor and I can’t judge characters based on my spirituality and how I choose to believe in God. To me, whatever your choice of spirituality is, it’s your personal choice. I may play a character that doesn’t believe in God at all. It doesn’t interfere at all because I believe in God and thank Him for having a connection.

BGG: While watching Oprah’s Selma special last month, I noticed that you were in attendance. What was that experience like?
TS: It was one of the best, most beautiful experiences of my life. That lady (Oprah) knows how to throw party! I had a chance to meet Berry Gordy and sit down and talk to Smokey Robinson who was just divine.

BGG: You’re now on the hit Fox show, “Empire,” were you at all surprised by the positive response it’s been getting?
TS: I am so happy and grateful to be a part of that movement because it is truly a movement. You know when something is greater than you can imagine? I think “Empire” is bigger than anything we ever imagined. I don’t think anyone knew just how infectious it was going to be. It’s like the best thing on TV since “Martin.” Remember when “Martin” first came out and we were all addicted to it back in the day? Every time Martin did a taping, every celebrity wanted to go to it. That was like the thing to do. Every basketball team, every actress, every singer, everybody was addicted to “Martin!” To me, “Empire” is even better than that. I think everybody is addicted to Lucious and Cookie!

BGG: What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?
TS: I have to have NaturaBissé Diamond Cream. It’s a little bourgeois, it’s a little expensive, but I can’t live without it! It’s a moisturizer for the face and it’s just incredible.

“Empire,” airs on Fox Wednesdays at 9pm EST.

What’s your favorite Tasha Smith movie/TV show?