Black Owned Business That You Didn't Know About...
Gro-Protect Solutions is a harmless agent that acts as a weave bondage. The glycerin crystalizes after it’s applied to the head of hair and it washes out easily without causing hair damage or breakage.
For Tula and Calvin Garris, owning the Morning Glory Products, Inc., based in Greenville, NC, keeps them tirelessly busy. However, they both agree that they wouldn’t trade their experiences for the world.
Although the two entrepreneurs are married, that makes their union even stronger.
“When I met my husband, he was living in a trailer park. I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to live there. But, see… he is a visionary. Once I saw his ability, diligence, and skill to get something accomplished, I knew he was the winner-- the other thing is that he’s a Godly man.” Tula said. “He asked me when we met, “Do you fear God?” I said, “Of course, I fear God.” He said, “That’s all I needed to know.”
Calvin and Tula own rental properties in the Greenville area, in addition to the Morning Glory Products, Inc. Tula say that the Morning Glory Product allowed her to fulfill her passions. She has a “Tula, Fish and Chips” stand, and she sets up her stand at different events around the area.
“My husband has been doing hair for over 24 years. He is the actual inventor of the Gro-Protect Solution that we carry.” Tula said. He had many women wanting quick weaves. However, he was refusing to do their service. He contacted a chemist so that they could figure out a way to help women wear the stuff they desire, without damaging their natural hair, and that’s how the concept came about.” she said.
“Of course, I was the guinea pig throughout the entire process. Since that time, we got with a manufacturing company for the Gro-Protect Solution, and we have a manufacturer to make it for us. We have people using it all over the world and even in the UK.”
What year did you decide to launch the concept for the Gro-Protect Solution? We launched it at the Bronner, Brothers show in 2007, and since that time, we’ve patented ourselves.
Where can we find your product? You can go into many beauty supply stores across the world and find our products. We have a beauty broker, he has the big wholesalers that buy, and then the wholesalers, distribute directly to the stores.
You stated that you tested the products. But, what else do you do on the business side of things? I pretty much handle all the accounts and make sure that we get the orders processed, labeled, and shipped in a timely manner.
Have you noticed a drastic change in sales from when you presented the product in 2007? In 2007, when we first launched, our ultimate goal was to have an independent representative. When we met the Bronner Brothers, we tried to get the stylist to try the product and believe in it. Then, we asked that they consider becoming distributors.
We tried to keep it out of the stores. Unfortunately, as black people, we have a tendency to move in slow when it comes down to small businesses. They left us no choice but to think of other ways to move the product. Once we put it in the hands of the brokers, we got it into stores, and we got a lot of feedback.
How difficult was it to find the chemist to create the perfect product?
We thank God for the internet. We searched for different chemist online and talked with them. We went through the process until we found the right one. I guess the major thing is when we started out as a black company and tried to get a loan, we tried to get the bank to see our vision, and that didn’t happen easily. So, we were very grateful for credit cards. Credit cards are what helped us launch our business. It is a journey into owning a business and just because the banks say, “No”, don’t stop.
How many times did the banks say no? Maybe once or twice, and after that we said, “Forget it”.
When did you see your products in stores? It was a lot of work. In 2007, we dealt with the Bronner Brothers, and we had a website. The website is what took off. We were able to keep the website up and running. We had a lot of orders online. Online orders were the major point of sale. In 2009, we got the broker whom was able to get it into different stores, and into different distribution.
Are you satisfied with the outcome? Are you happy? Yes.
How many other companies use the product? We have a Salon here in Greenville called Salon Visions. We have stylist in there that actually use the products, and a distributor in New York. She does very well.
Do you feel like this company is your legacy? What do you want to be known for? We want to be known as African American stylist—my husband wants to be remembered as a male stylist that saw a need to protect women’s hair, and not forget about their own natural hair, in the process. We want to be known as an independent, black owned company. We want to hold on until the end. We aren’t going to sell it; we are going to make it happen.
How does it make you feel to be an independently owned black company? It’s amazing. We tell God, Thank you, all day long.
What else do you plan on doing with Morning Glory Product, Inc.? Right now, we’re talking about doing a natural line because a lot of women are going natural. The line is oil for women that wear dreads. We are developing a shampoo to go with our existing conditioner.
What hair tips can you give for winter and summer? Take care of your hair. Make sure you aren’t so anxious to get a style that you’re willing to damage your hair.
Do you have words of encouragement? Just trust God, and know that whatever you do, you cannot do it by yourself. Trust God, and the skies will open up.
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