Yve-Car Momperousse Photo/Kreyolessence.com
Everyone wants to feel beautiful. For Yve-Car Momperousse, this desire led her to create the hair and skincare brand, Kreyol Essence and over 500 sustainable jobs in Haiti.
The Birth of Kreyol Essence
Like many young girls, growing up, Yve-Car experimented with different hairstyles to express her beauty, all of which left her with damaged hair. When her hair needed repair, Momperousse turned to her mother for the ‘miracle oil’ that she knew would fix everything, Haitian Black Castor Oil. In 2009, Yve-Car went to her hairdresser to get her straightened with a hot comb for an event that evening. The next day, her hair started to fall out. This time, Momperousse went to the nearby West Indian stores in search of natural black castor oil to no avail. Again, her mom came to the rescue and sent her some from “her stash."
Having experienced the benefits of pure black castor oil and recognizing a void in the market, Yve-Car and her partner Stéphane Jean-Baptiste launched Kreyol Essence in 2014.
Kreyol Essence allowed Momperousse to pair her love of social impact and beauty, with her vision for economic development in Haiti. The company offers natural, plant-based beauty products for people with dry or textured hair and dry skin.
Not an Easy Road
At launch, the company sold Haitian Black Castor Oil in bulk. Two years later, Kreyol Essence lost a major client and sales dropped drastically – causing Yve-Car and Stéphane to consider closing the business – but they preserved. The partners shifted from a wholesale business model to a direct-to-consumer model and regained their stride. They would go on to secure a $400k investment from Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank in 2020, which gave Momperousse the opportunity to scale the business.
Since the launch, Kreyol Essence has expanded their product line from organic Haitian Castor Oil to other castor oil-based products including soaps, lotions, facial products, and shampoo and conditioner. Most recently, they have also put a spin on their signature Haitian Black Castor Oil creating multiple strains of the product infused with various fruits and herbs indigenous to their homeland.
Kreyol Essence continues to deliver despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Having dealt with the challenges of working in a developing country and dealing with unknowns like limited electricity, political unrest, and maladies, prepared Yve-Car to maneuver through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The company was able to maintain production while adhering to safety protocols. Moreover, Momperousse understands the importance of self-care, especially during these times, when most beauty salons are either closed or open for limited hours. To that end, she and her team have been working overtime to help their customers maintain their beauty and personal care routine during the pandemic.
Making a Social Impact
Prior to launching Kreyol Essence, Yve-Car worked in the non-profit space for over 10 years. As a community servant and activist in the Haitian community, she helped transform communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York through economic development initiatives.
In 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti. During that time, Yve-Car had a conversation with her mother about putting her business plans on pause to focus on the relief efforts. Momperousse's mother convinced her that job creation was key to making a lasting impact, so she made that a business mission.
Today, Kreyol Essence has worked with over 500 Haitian farmers and producers, to plant over 100,000 castor trees. “We like to say social impact is part of Kreyol Essence’s DNA. It’s the reason why we get up and do this very hard thing called entrepreneurship,” Momperousse said in an interview with Lunion Suite. Momperousse is committed to creating more economic opportunities for her Haitian countrymen, especially women who are often victims of gender-based violence and poverty. Moreover, the farming and harvesting of the castor beans are also helping to reduce deforestation, soil erosion, and gas emission in Haiti.
Prior to appearing on Shark Tank, Momerousse landed a national distribution deal with Whole Foods Market. She used a $50k loan she received from the Sephora Accelerate 2017 program to increase her inventory for Whole Foods. Since appearing on Shark Tank, Kreyol Essence has expanded their products to Ulta Beauty stores, one of the largest beauty retailers in the U.S. Their products are featured among Ulta Beauty’s ‘Conscious Beauty’ brands. Most recently, Kreyol Essence made history as the first Haitian brand on QVC - offering a Haitian Castor Oil Scalp Care kit that includes oil and a shampoo and conditioner.
By delivering clean, non-toxic beauty products, Kreyol Essence has amassed a tribe of loyal customers. Momperousse and Stéphane are well on their way to achieving their goals of a sustainable beauty brand, while improving economic and environmental conditions in Haiti.