Armed with an MBA in international business in 1997, Marsha Coulton dove head first into the business world.
Over the next few years, her many jobs included a trader on Wall Street, an analyst for one of the nation's largest retailers, a computer consultant at a global tech company and a career counselor with an Ivy League graduate school.
"I was jumping around to different jobs because I wasn't particularly happy," says the creator of Curl Junkie, a new line of products for curls and kinks. " I was doing what I thought I should be doing. But since I was 12, I'd known I wanted to do hair."
One day she was complaining about her own hair to her mother, who asked "Why don't you go to beauty school?"
Coulton says she always felt like she was expected to pursue a high-powered career. So her mom's suggestion to go after her dream was a breath of fresh air.
The timing was perfect because Coulton was just embarking on her own hair journey after decades of relaxing her hair.
"I wanted to see what my natural hair looked like since I hadn't seen it since I was 8 or 9," she says.
She found NaturallyCurly.com, and was inspired to cut off her long, relaxed locks. But she struggled with how to take care of her newly shorn kinky curls. She found that most newly natural people struggled with the same issues.
In 2004, Coulton started beauty school at the Carsten Institute in New York. From the beginning, her whole emphasis was curly hair. But beauty school, she says, was a bit of an eye opener.
"I saw that the push was to straighten out curly hair," she says. "It wasn't about working with the curl."
She graduated last year and went to work at the Sam Wong Hair Studio in Manhattan. The salon had gained a reputation for its hair treatments using essential oils. Essential oils had long been a hobby of hers, and the job motivated her to learn more.
She began studying different ingredients, and she began developing her own hair concoctions. She spent hours each day on research, and her kitchen resembled a chemistry lab.
"I set out to make products for me and my fellow curlies," Coulton says. "It helped that I hadn't found my 'Holy Grail' product, and I wasn't satisfied with the products that I had to use on my curly-headed clients."
She tested her concoctions on mannequins, herself, her family and friends, and finally her clients. When clients began asking to buy them, she knew she had the makings of a successful line.
In February, she launched Curl Junkie. The collection includes more than 20 products, all made from the finest essential oils, gentle cleansers, botanicals and conditioning agents. The line is broken down by curl type, with products for thick and luscious, fine, and dry and damaged hair.
Coulton is developing a number of new products, including products for type 4a and 4b hair. This month, she has introduced two new curl cremes, Guava & Protein Curl Creme and Guava Curl Creme.
Although she's getting numerous requests from distributors an wholesalers, Coulton says she wants to keep the line exclusive to maintain a high level of quality and service.
"Hopefully, Curl Junkie will meet the needs of most curly hair product junkies out there," Coulton says.
Although Coulton got a relatively late start in the beauty industry, she says she has no regrets.
"I wouldn't have done this if I hadn't gone through all the things I've gone through," she says. "I knew this was my calling for a while, but I was just fighting it. I really feel like this is what I should be doing."
Coulton's Curl Junkie products are available in CurlMart.