Courtney Adeleye, founder of The Mane Choice, is on to her next venture: Olbali.
The direct-selling beauty and wellness platform launched in July 2022, and has reached $2.5 million in sales. Adeleye expects to double that number in 2024, as she focuses on mentorship and product expansion.
After selling The Mane Choice to Mav Beauty Brands in 2019, which had become a $100 million-plus company in six years, Adeleye thought she would retire, but life had other plans.
“Your passion is the same, but your vision gets larger and it starts to expand,” she said. “I was like a mad scientist after I sold The Mane Choice. I was creating brands left to right….I woke up one day and I felt like God put a vision in my head. He was like, ‘I want you to turn this into a direct-selling company.’”
For Olbali, Adeleye created several brands spanning beauty and wellness, including Cool Coffee Clique, a range of coffees, teas and accessories; Foolproof Body, a line of health and feminine hygiene ingestibles and topicals, and Wait & Sea, a skin care line that Adeleye plans to double down on in the year ahead with new products. The Mane Choice is also available on Olbali.
Although Adeleye has been focused on brand building, her truest passion and the impetus behind Olbali is mentorship and being able to help others.
Following the success and the acquisition of The Mane Choice, she began receiving messages from people asking how she built the business. During the pandemic, she would livestream events with the public; she said she’s now able to mentor on a larger scale through the Olbali model and its business owners.
“The mentorship is a lot more personal so it’s not throwing out information,” Adeleye said. “These ladies and men are sacrificing their lives, their time and they have to win. We have to position them in the best way to win.”
Obali’s mentorship components include Tuesday opportunity calls, where sellers can invite new people to join their network and learn about Olbali, Thursday corporate-led trainings and a January conference.
“It’s like a reunion for our distributors, but at the same time, it gives the ability for anyone that’s in their network to come in and see what the company is all about,” Adeleye said of the conference.
In addition to mentoring, Adeleye has committed to giving back.
“Being from Detroit, Michigan [and] my mom, [being] a single mom, we struggled a lot,” she said. “I remember those days sleeping in a car…I was just thinking, ‘I will never let this happen to someone that I care for, so if I’m ever in a position that I can help somebody I’m going to do that.”
With this, Adeleye has set up several ways to give back, including paying bills of those in need, as well as offering a Mercedes-Benz program through Olbali — car incentives like this are common perks of other direct-selling companies, including Mary Kay.
While Adeleye is aiming to use the business for good, she is aware of the stigma around direct-selling companies and the association with pyramid schemes. At the same time, she’s seen the success of companies like Mary Kay and Avon and isn’t scared to face criticism.
“I’ve never necessarily been in an industry where there’s so much stigma,” she said. “I’m going to start releasing a lot more testimonials from our owners, so people can see we can [either] have stigma about something, or learn and see how this can affect our community, the economy.”
Although Adeleye plans to expand Olbali’s presence through new products, most notably from Wait & Sea, the true focus is on community. Her goal is to have 1 million Olbali business owners in the next five years and expand its presence to other countries, notably the U.K. and Canada.