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How I Started My Own Whipped Shea Butter Business

Hi!

My name is Leila and I am the creator of BGLH Marketplace butters (and heart-shaped black soap… and a bunch of other products I’m working on right now.)

Back in 2008 I started a natural hair site called Black Girl with Long Hair, which catapulted me to minor internet fame when it became one of the top hair sites for black women.

In 2010 I opened up a shop component to Black Girl Long Hair focused on selling other companies’ natural hair products. It was fun, but got to be too time consuming so I shut it down after a year. I missed having a little shop so I re-opened it in November 2014. The only problem is that many of the companies that had sold to me the first time around didn’t want to take the chance in case I shut down again. So while I waited for a company — *any* company — to allow me to sell their products, I started selling raw shea butter on BGLH Marketplace. The raw shea looked so lonely all by itself that I figured I could maybe start whipping and scenting it to give a few different purchase options. And that’s when things got crazy.

For months I experimented with how to whip the absolute best butter I could. I spent hours researching and testing formulas and processes until I came up with fluffy, highly absorbent whipped butters that are incredibly fragrant (without using any synthetic/artificial fragrances) and soft/light to the touch. I quickly learned that shea, cocoa and mango butter are wonder products that have a number of incredible benefits including smoothing and softening skin and hair, moisturizing and reducing blemishes, relieving eczema and psoriasis, soothing chapped lips and reinvigorating the scalp. My butters became so popular that I no longer needed to sell other companies’ natural hair products.

I love that my products are completely uncompromised — no filler, no chemical additives and no artificial scents. Just butter and oil. I love that people feel pampered when they use them. My heart flutters every time someone tells me that my butters relieved their eczema, got rid of their blemishes or softened rough skin.

In 2016 I moved to Brooklyn after living in Chicago for 10 years and I love it here. I live in Bed Stuy with my three children. My youngest was actually born here in December 2016 (he’s a Brooklyn exclusive.)

Hero, the Brooklyn baby

Sage, the girl wonder

Noah, the boy genius

When I’m not whipping butter or shipping out packages, I am exploring Brooklyn, binge watching Netflix or taking dance classes. Oh, and thinking up new products! Owning a small beauty business is an exciting journey with a lot of ups and downs. But I am so happy to be here.

I’ve introduced myself and now I’d love to meet you! Please introduce yourself in the comments πŸ™‚

50 Comments

  1. Sheila

    Cute babies.

    1. BGLH Marketplace

      Thank you! I will tell them you said it, lol.

  2. Danielle James

    Hi Liela
    My name is danielle I’ve used your product for about a year and I love it they feel so good on my skin and it smell so fragrant, I have two boys,I have dreadlocks and I use your shebutter on my hair my hair is thin within my crown area but I see some improvements with new growth I love your products Shea Butter and your heart shape black soap I use it regularly day and night and the she butter and my skin getting more even clear thanks Liela, I appreciate you.

    1. BGLH Marketplace

      Awesome!!! I am so happy to hear that πŸ™‚ <3

  3. Adrienne Kinard

    Greetings! Leila! I’ve been a fan of blog since a bit before 2014 and enjoyed your butters since 2015. The info your bpig has featured has truly helped me these past few years in my natural hair journey (I began going natural the end of 2009). I wish I’d known about your blog sooner. Anyway, the butters a wonderful and I hope you’ll continue to expand and grow in your creativity with your products and blog. Thank you for sharing your passion and love for natural beauty. Blessings.

    1. BGLH Marketplace

      Thank you Adrienne!

  4. Cathy

    You have lovely children. If supporting your product means helping you build a bright future for them, then I’m going to put my order in for your black soap right away.

      1. Kimberly Brame

        Wow, wow, wow! Congratulations Leila on the new baby girl to the family! This is Kim with the kiddos, with another on the way πŸ˜‰ All your children are so precious and its really a blessing to see what the Lord is doing in your life and family. I hope to make purchase soon! God Bless!!

        1. Idalis

          He’s a beautiful baby boy – congrats to you all! Eternal blessings to your beautiful families!

  5. Theresa Carroll

    Hi Leila,

    I’m from Maryland. I’ve used your African black soap and whipped Shea butter for over a year. Your products have truly transformed my hair , skin and face. I will never go back to store bought products!! I have my teenage nephew using the soap for his acne. We already see the difference. We love it!! Plus I love supporting small black owned business. You rock and have a customer for life. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰

  6. Colette

    Hi Leila,

    You are a walking advertisement with your flawless skin and fly hair! Congrats on turning the adversity of no sellers into your own business! Happy Mother’s Day.

    I am all stocked up now as nice as your butters look. Keep in doing what you do!

    Colette

  7. Adrienne Washington

    I have been using your products now for two years. Love your Shea butter(none scented), and your ehip Coco butter( none scented). I wll be buyinh your products as ling as the remain the same.
    Much success
    Adrienne R Washington

    1. Leila Noelliste Author

      Yes! We will never change our formula πŸ™‚

  8. Barbara

    All your children are beautiful! Your new son is so adorable! You kind of know me already. I was the one who sent you an email over a month ago telling you about my plight dealing with that sub-par shea butter company when you moved from Chicago. We’re still using your shea butter, of course. My husband says it clears up those dark shadows from under his eyes and I noticed the difference as well! Can never say enough about your shea butter!

    Many Blessings to you and your beautiful family!
    Barbara

  9. Jessica Smith

    Hey Leila,
    I love your products, the smell is lovely just wish my face wasn’t so sensitive. I will be back to order more please don’t stop doing what you doing your products are great πŸ‘πŸΎ!!

  10. Nacobi

    Hello. My skin loves your butters and the scents are divine. I just received the whipped mango butter and I am going to see if my fine hair reacts to it better than Shea. Lovely children and happy mother’s day!

  11. Joyce

    I have purchased the whipped shea butter, the black soap, raw shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, and I use these products religiously because they’re all natural, they work well and I trust them, period. You keep with the formula and I’m sure you’ll be around for a very long time. I’m very proud to support my people. Its make me so happy inside to see that my dollars are helping to build “us” up! God bless you/hubby and those adorable little ones.

  12. Adriene Thompson

    I have been looking for shea butter to use, but was not to happy with the original shea butter during the summer months. I saw that you had whipped shea butter and I said let me give it a try. I am so glad that I did. It’s just what I been looking for. I use it after I shower, and my skin feels so smooth and soft. I also use it on my twa and it pops my curls. I also use it to moisturize my face. I just want to say Thank you! It seems like your products were Wonderfully made for me!

  13. Tamara Fort

    Hi Leila,
    Glad to see the woman who creates the whipped shea butters I love. Thank you for what you do. I’m a fan of whipped lavender and grapefruit butters. I love it for my hair and for my own kids. You have a beautiful family and hope you have a restful Mother’s Day.
    Tamara😘

  14. Natalie

    Beautiful family. First, thank you for your creations. I have your used shea butter and whipped butter for at least the past 2 years on my skin and I have grown out beautiful natural hair with the shea butter.

    I get compliments about my soft skin and my hair is lustrous.

    Congratulations on being innovative.

  15. Wanda

    I’m looking for a non greasy fluffy butter that’s don’t have coconut oil in it. That really works..

  16. Kedra Carter

    Hi! My name is Kedra and how wonderful to meet you. I found your products randomly on google in one of my communities. I was SO happy because I was in search of a product other than shea butter that I could use on my hair. I believe I have a mild allergy to shea so cocoa butter was what I needed! I bought it for my niece and nephew to try once I tried it out myself. The whipped cocoa butter is my go to from head to toe! I last purchased some bergamont shea for my husband to try and he likes that and mine. I pray you continue to be a source for us in the community. Peace and blessings.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  17. Laurenthia

    Hi!
    I recently tried your product and am officially hooked! I’m seriously happy to be supporting a black owned business. I’ve been wanting to start my own (similar) business but I know I REALLY need to do my homework in order to be successful. Congrats on your success and I wish you and your family the best.

    -Laurenthia

  18. Autumn indigo

    Just reading about you and the article are inspirational.I myself have a side business cleaning.But I’m always looking for ideas thank you for sharing my name is Autumn.

  19. Salimah

    Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day. I’m Salimah from Ohio. My family loves your butters. Thank you for sharing your story. You have a beautiful family.

  20. Kim

    Thanks for the introduction Leila. Your family is beautiful. I recently moved to the Atlanta area from the Detroit area. My husband, daughter and I all love your butters especially the lemongrass shea butter. But we also enjoy the cocoa butter and lavender shea. I truly appreciate a quality product and yours is definitely quality. I appreciate your improvements in shipping, the website and overall look of your products. I like your sales and many samples, keep it coming. I wish you much continued success!

  21. Starr McClelland

    I just love your story on how you got started. Blessings to you and your beautiful family. I have been using your Whipped shea butter and soap for over a year now and I love them! I introduced the butter to my sister when she got pregnant and she loves it too. I recommend your products to all those I meet. Keep up the great work and you have a customer for life.

  22. Laura Howard

    Thank you for sharing your story. Good job.

  23. Aletia Howard

    Hi Leila,

    Thank you for your heartfelt introduction. I love the spirit of a true entrepreneur! I’m happy for your perseverance … and your products as well. Keep thriving, and I will keep buying!

    Peace and Light…

    Aletia

  24. LaTonaya

    Hello…
    Nice to put a face with a name and what a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your story… btw….Happy Superwomen’s(Mother’s) Day!!! I just want to say I LOVE your products. The soap is very healing to my skin & your shea butters I love because I can use them for my body & hair. I like that one product takes care of all of ME πŸ™‚ My Sweetheart loves the way my skin feels & the smell of my hair when using BGLH products. He’s always touching & rubbing me, which I enjoy. I have also enjoyed sharing your products with family & friends as a gift. The response is always, “ooh, I loved that shea butter, I’m going to order myself some more”. My son uses the soap to shave & bath with & loves it. Thanks again for this wonderful product/gift & I look forward to new products you’re bringing forth. God Bless!!!

  25. T. LashayBurns

    Happy Belated Mother’s Day Leila…I love the website and your beautiful family is so precious. I look to purchase some products very soon, my daughter loves the mango. You are our official hair crush, sending much love from the Peach State. Keep up the awesome work, your Blessing will be abundant.

  26. Leeza

    *hits the love button*

    Hi Leila,

    Thanks for sharing your simple but inspiring story. Keep pushing. God bless.

    Leeza

  27. Candra

    Hey girl! Nice to meet you. I first discovered BGLH Marketplace through the Black Girl Long Hair blog. I followed the blog in the beginning bit after a while it started to have too much going on so I stopped following it. But yes, in the beginning that blog was one of my favs! I make my own butter but decided to purchase some from BGLH Marketplace when I was being particularly lazy and had run out of my ingredients. And noy! I was crushing over tour butter more than mine! Lol. You challenged me to step my butter game up (mine was not as fluffy). I still make mine but I also still purchase some from you. It depends how I feel. Lol. But I do love your butters! I am married with 2 kids and live in Baltimore!

  28. Jhanique Jackson

    I found your products looking for black owned businesses and put it on my wishlist for Christmas 2015. I was pregnant with my baby boy at the time. My husband bought it for me and I have been hooked ever since. As a matter of fact, it’s time to restock before I run out!

    Sending you prayers for much more success in the future!

    -Jhanique J., Las Vegas, NV

  29. Dee

    Hello, Love your story and beautiful family. Thanks for sharing. I just started using shea butter and LOVE it for my natural hair. I have been using black soap for a while now. That’s the only soap used in my household but have been ordering it from another well-known, black-owned company. I would love to order it from you if you can sell it by the pound like them. It doesn’t have to be heart shaped. Please email me to let me know.

  30. LaTanya

    Hi Leila,

    I love your story and not only are your kids little cutties you are a very beautiful woman. I love to support our black women doing positive things. I love your products and will be purchasing more. My fiancΓ© is now wanting to buy some of your men’s line. So I look forward to purchasing more products.
    Continue the good work and may you and your family continue to be blessed πŸ™‚
    LaTanya W., Plano, TX.

  31. Letha

    Love your whipped butters, your kids are beautiful. How do I combat frizz?My hair looks great when I leave my house but it still gets frizzy. Does this means my hair is still very dry? If it is still trying to absorb all the moisture in the air?

  32. Nneka

    Hi Leila,
    I’m Nneka. I went natural in 2007 after 3 years of having my first relaxer at 14. I relaxed again in 2010. Then went natural again in 2014. When I relaxed my hair in 2010 I was totally oblivious to the presence of the natural hair community. Your site BLGH has been a blessing to me. It is the single reason why I have healthy, thick, almost mid back hair in 3 years. BLGH is the only place I turn to for my haircare.
    Your kids are so beautiful. I’m the mom of one little handsome 10 month old boy who never gives me a chance to style ‘fro lol.
    Thanks for doing what you’re doing. xoxo

  33. Karen

    Has your product been approved? Also what are your ingredients is it for all types of hair?

    1. Leila Noelliste Author

      Hello Karen,

      Our products consist of: cocoa, mango or shea butter + coconut oil + almond oil + an essential oil or organic extract for scent. That’s it!

      Also, approved by whom?

  34. Carla

    I’ve been wanting to order your butters for a long time and finally made the plunge yesterday and placed my first order with you! I’ve been using Shea butter since I started embracing and caring for my natural hair in 2002 after being a straight hair natural for most of my life (never relaxed) but I have always wanted to try whipped butters for my skin and hair. Thank you for sharing your story and your kids are beautiful!

  35. Loretta Jackson

    Hi leila, love your shea butter.

  36. MiMi

    Hi!
    1. your babies are adorable!
    2. i didn’t know you had moved until i saw the post about the shop opening! i got excited thinking it was here in chicago
    3. i’ll be in NYC next week and i’m going to try to visit the shop
    4. I WISH YOU CONTINUED SUCCESS. BGLH was a staple site for me for so long (I went natural in 2000) and the meetups you all hosted were life-affirming.

    – MiMi

    1. norman baldwin

      Thank you so much Mimi <3 <3 <3

  37. Kay

    So this became lucrative? I shared this on my page then deleted it since it didnt give any info on marketing, consulting, etc. You just added a new shop and started getting orders?

    1. norman baldwin

      Lucrative is subjective because overhead is high when running a small cosmetics business. Most of my initial orders were from readers of my blog. I think because I had a built-in base that trusted me, it helped get BGLH Marketplace off the ground.

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