While healthcare workers sound the alarm about the lack of sufficient protective equipment and governors bemoan the fact that they’re competing with other states and the federal government for precious resources, CURLS founder Mahisha Dellinger has found a way to get thousands of FDA approved N95 masks to hospitals in Texas and New York.
“Sometime in January, I saw what was happening. I started to see the influx of coronavirus cases, and that’s why I placed the order ahead of time. So top of February was when I started sourcing my items to get them in,” Dellinger says.
“I had some of those masks imported so we could donate. We’ve been shipping out units of masks every week to New York.”
Being on top of things is part of what makes Dellinger such a powerhouse in business. But it also carries over to her charitable work—and apparently to her knowledge of current affairs.
“I’m up like at 4:30, 5 reading the updates before I start my morning,” she says. “My husband said I’m a walking CDC alert.”
It was Dellinger’s preparedness, or seeing the writing on the wall, as she puts it, followed by decisive action that allowed her to secure the supplies that are now protecting those on the front lines.
“When I saw what was happening, I went into action mode,” she says, “unlike our president who said he thought it was a hoax and didn’t really believe what’s happening.”
“Now things are hard to get because now everyone is trying to get all the masks, all hand sanitizers, and all those things. You have to act—acting when you see it and not stumbling and waiting and procrastinating, that’s the key. That’s how we’re able to do it.”
Providing such a needed, and scarce, resource as N95 masks for the people who are most at risk has had an unexpected benefit for Dellinger and CURLS.
“Because we’re sending masks to healthcare workers, we were considered an essential business—which wasn’t the reason why I did it. It gave me chills thinking about how that manifested. That positive action—that was totally meant for good, not for anything beyond that—became a blessing for me,” she says. “So now I can stay open. I don’t have to furlough any employees.”
“So it winded up being a blessing to be a blessing.”
Between the donations and the increase in online orders since most of the country is staying at home, Dellinger is finding that she’s got even less downtime than usual: “I thought I would start slowing down, but because of all the nonprofit stuff we’re doing, we’re busier than ever. We’re bringing in more people to fulfill all the donation requests.”
The N95 masks are just one of the many things CURLS is doing to help. After an interaction with a grocery store worker who wasn’t provided any protective gear, Dellinger decided to donate disposable three-ply surgical masks to essential workers and members of the community.
“I went to Whole Foods, and I saw that most employees weren’t wearing masks. So I said to my team the next day, let’s drop them off in all these key grocery stores. I have 30,000 surgical masks being delivered so I can donate to this area,” Dellinger says.
The brand is also manufacturing its own hand sanitizer, which it is including for free in every order on Curls.biz and also donating to the local community in Dallas.
In the virtual space, CURLS has launched an Instagram series featuring experts such as Dr. Lynn Richardson and Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche to provide its customers and followers with much-needed information to make it through these difficult times.
“We are kicking off a virtual wellness series with a host of amazing women,” Dellinger says. “These women are all donating their time just to be of service. And we’ll go through April doing this.”
It’s all part of Dellinger’s DNA as a person and as an entrepreneur. She says it’s always been in her to give of her time and her resources.
“I always find a way to give back. We created CURLS Cares many, many years ago; whenever something happens we activate it, like when hurricanes come and we donate and ship to different churches.”
“I believe wholeheartedly to whom much is given much is required,” she continues. “I’m always finding ways to be a blessing because I truly believe that a lot of the success I’ve had has been because of being obedient in that way. I’m a woman of faith and I believe so much in reaping what you sow and that having a heart to give will take you a long way.”