This week’s Millennial On A Mission is an interior designer by trade, but a true entrepreneur at heart. Her natural hair care start-up, Neo Tress, looks to solve the problem for women who sometimes find it difficult to style and protect their natural hair. Not only is this young woman’s talent and drive impressive, but I know personally that her creativity and work ethic are truly unmatched.
Ladies and gents, meet Nicole Ben.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in interior design from Syracuse University. She then went on to attain her master’s degree in design management through Savannah College of Art and Design’s e-learning program. “I’ve always been fascinated with human experiences and how those experiences influences all aspects of design,” Nicole says. “Hence why I dedicated my education to the subject.” Currently, Nicole is a lighting designer and showroom manager for an Italian lighting company. In the evenings and on weekends, she works on her company, NeoTress.
MOAM: What inspired you to pursue design? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building NeoTress, and what have you learned from them?
NB: In some way, shape, or form, I’ve always been a designer and entrepreneur. Through my education, I became very interested in studying behaviors, defining problems, then developing solutions to problems. Whether that meant re-designing an office for employee productivity, designing a chair for lounging, or developing an innovative business concept, I knew all of those things were in an area I wanted to pursue. So, when I discovered that I couldn’t figure out what to do with my newly natural hair, I did what I do best –solved the problem. Only this time, I created NeoTress to do so.
Steve Harvey is someone I admire a lot. He has so many hustles, it amazes me! He has a talk show, he hosts Family Feud, he’s an author, actor, producer, has a line of suits — the list goes on. And, what I admire most is that he hasn’t allowed where he started (as a comedian) restrict him in what he does now. That’s exactly how I want my life to be. Full of things that I enjoy doing, which bring me wealth and make an impact on people (even if it’s a small impact.) The biggest challenge that I’ve faced building my own business is the lack of funding. I’ve literally have started NeoTress without a budget. And because of that, I’ve learned to be resourceful. I find friends that can offer their talents or services to me for free. Or I find free workshops, where I can learn about things I need to advance my business.
To Nicole, a Millennial On A Mission is a young professional aiming to challenge, change, and redefine the status quo through innovation. “I put God first on a daily basis because without Him,” Nicole says, “I wouldn’t have the strength and the drive to follow my dreams.” She also keeps a list of short term and long term goals with deadlines visible so that she can hold her accountable. And her one piece of advice to her millennial peers? Take a leap of faith with a plan. “Don’t let current circumstances be the deciding factor of your leap — just leap,” Nicole says. “For as long as you don’t leap, you’ll never know what it feels like to soar. You may not soar right away. You might fall and experience a few bumps in the journey. But, that journey will make soaring so much more rewarding.”