Lulu Cordero: “Learn to trust the people you work with-don’t micromanage!”

Learn to trust the people you work with-don’t micromanage! Work with great people, who have a passion for what they do, let your team OWN their efforts and make sure that you maintain those interactions with your team so you can help steer the them in the right direction and bring out the best in them. […]

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Learn to trust the people you work with-don’t micromanage! Work with great people, who have a passion for what they do, let your team OWN their efforts and make sure that you maintain those interactions with your team so you can help steer the them in the right direction and bring out the best in them.

As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lulu Cordero.

Lulu Cordero is the CEO + Founder of Bomba Curls, an all-natural, nontoxic, premium Dominican style line of hair care products, developed to celebrate curly hair. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, Lulu grew up watching her Father work hard to not only support his family, but also turn his security job into his very own business. In watching and helping her Father make his dreams come true, Lulu learned the sacrifice and drive she would need to make Bomba Curls come to life.

Lulu saved up for over 10 years in order to launch Bomba Curls and did so in August of 2019. Growing up in a world where mainstream media didn’t depict or deem curls beautiful, Lulu decided to make it her mission to create a brand that celebrated natural coils and kinks. Using her Afro-Dominicana roots as inspiration, she formulates hair potions made with Dominican beauty secrets and island ingredients.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Every time I’d step out of the house with my natural curls, people would always stop and ask me what products I used to get them so luscious and healthy. I would then have to explain that what I used could not be bought in stores- it was homemade, organic and created with a Dominican twist by me. Eventually, people started offering to buy my homemade products and that’s how I knew I was on to something. It was always a dream of mine to enter the haircare space, and ultimately I decided to let go of the fear and pursue Bomba Curls full time.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Since starting Bomba Curls I’ve learned a lot about human behavior, most importantly, that you have be as clear as possible with your expectations and instructions. In working on getting my bottle samples, I thought my requirements were pretty clear to the manufacturer, but when my bottle samples arrived they were completely wrong which set our timeline back. That experience taught me that in everything that you do, whether it be instructions to customers, team members or manufacturers you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early stages of Bomba Curls, I decided that for the first time I’d to allow someone else help me run our newsletter. I found someone who came highly reviewed, so I decided to give them a shot. I absentmindedly did not do the final review of the newsletter, before letting it run. That was the first and last time I ever did that. There were grammatical mistakes everywhere! My customers weren’t happy, I wasn’t happy and it didn’t reflect well on my brand. At the end of the day, the fault was my own, because its my job to be on top of all of the details, big or small. Lesson Learned: Mind your business.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are creating formulas in a style that’s never been done before in the United States. We’re bringing uniquely Dominican formulas and a brand-new style of haircare to American consumers. Our innovative, effective ingredients are what separate us from the pack. Haircare is a nationwide obsession in the Dominican Republic and we are masters of haircare. From the moment you are born, your education in which ingredients work to address which haircare issue begins. Bomba Curls is here to bridge the gap and introduce the American market to a new form of hair care.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now we’re formulating new green, toxin-free curl care products. I’m a self-confessed perfectionist, quality is of the upmost importance to me and I want to make sure that our new releases deliver results on a level that will make it easy for my customers care for & embrace their natural hair.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Give your team the tools they need to help them best get the job done. Provide them with clear expectations and create an environment that is conducive to collaboration. Lots of problems often require a multi-disciplinary approach and instead of compartmentalizing your team, open the channels of communication and take advantage of the collective strengths of your team.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Learn to trust the people you work with-don’t micromanage! Work with great people, who have a passion for what they do, let your team OWN their efforts and make sure that you maintain those interactions with your team so you can help steer the them in the right direction and bring out the best in them.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father. He came to this country with nothing and worked incredibly hard to provide for his family. He started his own business when I was nine and just watching him work, taught me invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship. I’m incredibly grateful for receiving those early lessons because I learned the importance of having persistence, passion and grit in pursuing your dreams.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I help women feel more beautiful in their own skin and that is the most gratifying part of what I do. Curly, kinky, afro hair has a history of being stigmatized, however, through my work via Bomba Curls I am able to uplift an entire community and de-stigmatize natural hair.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Lead from the front- by doing the heavy lifting and showing your team that you’re not afraid to jump in the trenches, you can effectively become the powerhouse of your business. Your team knows that you’re a leader that comes from a place of experience and will listen to what you have to say because you’ve done the work! I didn’t even know where to begin when I started my journey, but by doing as much as I could on my own, falling down, reassessing and pivoting as I needed to, I gradually developed the knowledge & skills that are of value in my business and my team knows that what I say, I can back up because I’ve been there, done that got the t-shirt and most importantly, wore it!

Know what you stand for- It makes you a leader that has integrity. People will respect what you have to say, if they know that you not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. I stand for clean ingredients because I believe that green products are better for the environment and us. I personally live a “green” lifestyle and my products are a direct reflection of that. This is how I choose to live my life and just knowing that, I believe, lets people know that I have something insightful to contribute.
Have a vision- the vision is what keeps your path clear every single time during the stressful moments and reminds you of the greater purpose behind your work. As a leader, you have to wear a million hats, put out a million fires and be in the right headspace to juggle all those things while keeping your cool. Having a vision is what keeps your focused and fighting to see it come to fruition.

Be Open to feedback- Feedback is a useful tool that can help bring clarity to an idea, figure out your next step and help you avoid mistakes down the line. My customer’s feedback let’s me know what we’re doing wrong, right and allows me to better address their needs. Their feedback is often the deciding factor for new products ideas and ingredients that we choose to incorporate into our formulas.

Keep an open mind- you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you chose to do otherwise. To grow, to learn, to discover your strengths you have to be willing to admit that you don’t know it all. Stay open to new ideas and watch yourself grow.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Acceptance. The tapestry that is humanity is so rich because we each bring our unique backgrounds and stories to the table. That variety is a source of beauty within the world. If more people saw things through that lens then life itself becomes more beautiful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Success is not given, it is earned.” That is one of the first lessons I learned growing up and its what motivates me to push through obstacles every day. This is a country where you can make something out of yourself…doesn’t matter if you come from humble beginnings or aren’t well connected…none of that matters. What matters is your level of grit and willingness to put in the work that it will take to succeed.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Oprah Winfrey- She is the definition of self-made. I have the greatest level of respect and admiration for her especially, as a woman in business. She saw a vision for herself and made it happen regardless of what anyone saw or failed to see in her. The effects of what she has accomplished will ripple through the lives of many for years to come.

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