How She Got There: Muhga Eltigani, CEO of NaturAll Club, VFA Fellow

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Name: Muhga Eltigani

Job Title and Description: CEO of NaturAll Club

College Name/Major: University of Pennsylvania/Triple Major in International Relations, Religious Studies and African Studies

Website: http://www.naturallclub.comhttp://www.youtube.com/picturemenatural

Twitter Handle: @picture_meem, @NaturAllClub

Instagram Handle: @picture_meem, @NaturAllClub

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Muhga Eltigani: As the CEO of a startup, no two days are alike. Because NaturAll Club is a subscription-based service delivering organic hair products to its customers, I do a lot of work with production and logistics. I am also heavily invested in marketing and customer satisfaction. Each morning, I prioritize goals that need be achieved for the day. Once those are accomplished, I have a long list of more “medium-term if-you-can-complete-this-today-too-you-really-rock” tasks to tackle. The one thing that is stable in my work day is coffee, and lots of it.

 

What is the best part of your job?

ME: It is surreal to be able to finally manufacture, distribute, and see the impact of products I have been making for over 3 years. And the best part of my job is interacting with our members. I love hearing their stories about results they are getting, and I even set aside time to have Skype feedback sessions with some of them. Human-centered products, service, and experiences have been core to our success. I look forward to constantly improving our brand by listening to user feedback. It’s awesome to be able to monetize your passion all while being able provide something useful for others.

 

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

ME: My love for entrepreneurship was piqued during undergraduate internships with startups in Philadelphia, Manhattan, and Accra, Ghana. I had the idea of starting my haircare company before, but like many entrepreneurs, I did not know the right time to start (the answer is now, always now).

During my senior year, I heard about Venture For America, a two-year fellowship that helps recent grads become entrepreneurs. It’s still a pretty new program, but after learning about their training, the community, and the support and resources provided for VFA Fellows who want to start businesses, I knew VFA would be a catalyst for me to start mine. Through VFA, I spent time working with a startup in Cleveland, OH and was provided with the support I needed to launch NaturAll Club months after graduating from college.

 

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

ME: It is critical to know everyone is still figuring it out. I have met some of the most seasoned entrepreneurs and they never cease to learn new ways to solve complex problems, improve efficiency, and employ new strategies for growth. Consumer markets are always changing, giving new entrepreneurs opportunities to grow, adapt, increase revenues.

 

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

ME: My parents have always believed in me and pushed me to strive further. They relocated to America from Sudan, unsure of what lied ahead for them. As immigrants, they were inherently entrepreneurial, navigating a new city and working hard to move forward. They invested in my education and travels around the world, knowing my success would be the ultimate dividend. Having their support, allows me to be fearless in my approach and grounded throughout my journey.

 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

ME: When NaturAll Club was still only an idea, I started a crowdfunding campaign as part of Venture for America’s “Innovation Fund.” The Innovation Fund gives VFA Fellows (like me!) the chance to spend a month trying to launch and gain a following for our business ideas, with the most successful campaigns getting extra funding. I was cautiously optimistic we would hit the fundraising goal, but in fact, we surpassed it! I was stunned at how many people wanted fresh hair products delivered to their door and were willing to support the launch initiative from all around the country. It was a surreal moment, because for the first time I felt I could truly succeed in creating the intelligence behind a business model.

 

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

ME: Startups are challenging, yet rewarding. I am looking for someone with an entrepreneurial mindset who can wear many skill-based hats. It is also key to take the initiative to create opportunities for the business, our stakeholders, and themselves. This person would be passionate about providing high quality products and care to our members. Last but not least, an ideal candidate would be someone who is genuine and kind, because we would be working closely together as we’re a small team.

 

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

ME: Two pieces of advice popped into my head immediately:

1) Start now. Don’t wait until your product is perfect because there will always be new things to improve. Think about the time Domino’s Pizza rebranded itself by shedding light to bad feedback regarding its former pizza recipe. Consider the constant influx of new cosmetic products each season or the increased trend of products being labeled organic or non-GMO. The sooner you get your ideas in front of people, the sooner you can receive feedback, keep up with trends, and continue to build on your brand.

2) Separate yourself from your business. You’ll spend so much time building your business, it becomes part of who you are. At times, you can take feedback on your product or service too personally. When you’re able to take a step back and look at your business as just another business, you’ll be able to make better decisions to go in the right direction.

I love to see young women with aspirations in any field. If there is any way I can help motivate you or help you reach your goal, send me a tweet or leave me a comment on twitter or instagram: @picture_meem.  “Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it.” -Rosemary Brown

Venture for America is a fellowship program for enterprising college grads to launch their careers as entrepreneurs and revitalize American cities. After five weeks of training, VFA Fellows spend two years working for a young company in an emerging U.S. city, where they learn how to contribute to a high-growth business. Fellows then get access to the mentorship, network and resources they need to become entrepreneurs.

The next deadline to apply is at 11:59 PM EST tonight—but VFA is offering a 48-hour application extension to all Her Campus readers! Learn more at ventureforamerica.org/hercampus or start your application now and mention Her Campus. You’ll have until 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, October 7 to apply. Good luck, collegiettes!

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