Meet Gwen Jimmere – The first African American woman to hold a patent for a natural hair product
Reported by Liku Zelleke
Not too long ago, Gwen Jim-mere found herself divorced and out of a job at the same time. The only thing she had going for her, sort of, was NATURALICIOUS – a natural hair care product that was designed for textured hair.
“I had NATURALICIOUS as a side-hustle… I figured I could either cry about my situation, or… make something happen, because there was absolutely no ‘Plan B’,” Jimmere recalls. “During that time, I had a two-year-old to feed, and all the same bills I had before I got divorced. Plus my mortgage was due in 15 days. The only income source I had as an option was to make NATURALICIOUS work.”
Jimmere is the owner of patents for natural hair care product that include rights to utilities, designs, and plants. Her products allow for the washing, conditioning and deep-conditioning and detangling of hair – all the result of her hard work and per-severance.
“It’s a major time and money saver. It truly is incredible, and as you might imagine: it’s our best seller. This was something I created in my kitchen. I put a ton of time and work into perfecting the formula and I wanted to protect my creation,” she says.
Jimmere knew that she had to protect her work and patenting was the only way to go.
She says, “I wanted to protect my invention from imitators because I knew I could be sitting on a gold mine. Also, I kept hearing Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank saying, ‘What do you have that’s proprietary about your business?’ I wanted to ensure ownership, as well as a legacy for my company.
“In its most obvious sense, owning a patent can stop others from stealing your invention and profiting off of your hard work. But intellectual property (IP) can also be a part of wealth building. Many entrepreneurs don’t attempt to even apply because of the costs involved when using an attorney, or they don’t feel they can navigate the process themselves. I have three trademarks and one patent and I’ve never used an attorney or intermediary (such as LegalZoom) for any of them. There’s a lot of education, sweat equity and time involved when applying for IP by yourself – but it is well worth it.”