Qiyamah Singletary: Beauty is her Business
In a sea of beauty products, Immaculate Collections stands out with natural ingredients like African shea butter, mango seed extract and essential oils which founder Qiyamah Singletary hand-selects from an organic farm in Illinois and traditional markets in Egypt. Today Immaculate Collections products are sold at several stores around Northern NJ, but the eco-friendly business began with a personal commitment to a holistic lifestyle and a haircut.
“After years of using chemicals to straighten my hair, I decided to go all natural. I cut off my hair and let it grow out naturally,” said Qiyamah, “That’s when I started experimenting.”
As her hair grew back, Qiyamah experimented with natural ingredients to create products that would keep her hair healthy and beautiful. She drew on personal research as well as lessons she’d learned from her mother, who for more than two decades created natural beauty products for the family store, The All Body Shop in Newark, NJ.
Her work did not go unnoticed. When she wore her homemade creations, people began asking Qiyamah what she was using and where they could get it.
“First one person asked, then another, and then another. Finally, I said to myself, I should try to sell this,” Qiyamah remembers.
A week later, she created her first shelf-ready product –a whipped, coconut-almond scented body lotion—and placed a few samples on the shelves of The All Body Shop.
“I wasn’t sure how people would respond to my products, but before I knew it, they were sold out,” said Qiyamah, “That’s when I knew I was doing something right.”
Over the next several years, Qiyamah worked with a graphic designer and her mother to expand the line of products which she branded Immaculate Collections. She spent many evenings at the store experimenting with scent combinations and took courses at the New York Open Center to hone her technique. She also enrolled in Rising Tide Capital’s Community Business Academy to develop her business skills.
“There are so many things that I learned during the CBA, but most importantly, I learned how to improve my record keeping and balance my books,” said Qiyamah, who graduated from the CBA in December 2010. “This knowledge was critical as I expanded my product line and gained recognition.”
A month after graduating from Rising Tide Capital, she was contacted by Essence.com.
“An editor found out about me through one of my customers and wanted an interview. As an African American woman who grew up seeing Essence magazine on the coffee tables of all my friends’ homes, I was ecstatic,” recalls Qiyamah.
Since then, Qiyamah has been working harder than ever to share Immaculate Collections products with a wider audience. For the first time this year, she was able to secure enough capital to launch a line of mass-produced soaps. According to Qiyamah, this is the first step in taking her business to the next level.
“I’m so excited about this project. Pretty soon I believe my products will be on the shelves of major stores like Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s,” said Qiyamah. According to Qiyamah, this is the first step in taking her business to the next level.