MmmŸ Takes America?
An American Story of True Entrepreneurship
Book release - 4 of July 2009
The poignant story of Sheago Cosmetics
(Detroit’s “Pursuit of Happiness”)
MmmŸ Takes America?
“Mother is the word for God on the lips of little children.”
I’m sorry Mrs. Gollman, you just can not do that! No one takes a
child into a corporate meeting, especially not a baby! It’s just not
appropriate. Don’t you have someone to watch him?
No madam, I am breastfeeding so I can’t leave my child and travel
out of the city. The baby must stay with me.
How are you going to go into stores and do sales pitches with a baby?
How will you lead your team with a baby on your back? Nobody is
going to take you seriously!
I’ll take my chances madam. My son stays with me. Now with all do
respect, may I go forth.
The receptionist was adamant, but despite her protests, Anoa Gollman, owner of Sheago Cosmetics, walked into the largest health food store in America that day with a small child sleeping peacefully in a baby stroller. She then gave a presentation that resulted in placement within Whole Foods Market Eastern Region, her company‟s first chain. Anoa brought home
clearance into 35 U.S. stores and another located in England. Today, her line of natural cosmetics is one of the most popular brands throughout the Midwest and East Coast, particularly New York City.
“People always want to tell you that something can‟t be done; but my grandma always told me,
„Nothing beats a failure, but a try.‟ I don‟t think in terms of can it be done; but rather, how can it
be done? I believe most anything can be accomplished if you believe. Henry Ford said, „Whether you think you can or not, you are right.‟ Well, I think I CAN!”
Get ready mommies of America. The story that I am about to share is one of perseverance and awe-inspiring triumph over overwhelming circumstance. This is a story with high mountains and desperately low valleys. This is a quick journey through the life of a young mother who overcame the long, arduous struggle for entrepreneurship.
Born in April of 1970 in the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, Anoa Gollman represents a newer and younger generation of entrepreneurs that take matters into their own hands to create their own opportunities. She moved to Michigan at age 27 newly married to support her husband‟s desire to
attend law school. Shortly after arriving to Detroit, Mrs. Gollman became pregnant with her son.
The trials begin…
She left her job at the University of Detroit, to become a teacher at a private elementary school, but when they found out that she was pregnant, the job offer was retracted. “Here I was with no job, a
baby on the way, and a husband in law school full time and working meager hours as a student intern,” she explains. As a result, the couple was forced to temporarily go on welfare.
That year, with no health insurance, Anoa Gollman contracted toxemia and her kidneys began to fail. In and out of the hospitals every week, she nearly exhausted her savings to buy health insurance. Her doctor suggested a medication that could cause serious damage to the fetus.
Gollman refused. “I won‟t take anything that will harm my baby,” she explained to her doctor.
“This is foolish, young lady,” the doctor responded. “This is serious. You could die.”
“Then I will name him Kafele, worthy of dying for,” responded Gollman.
“She is such a fighter” her mother, Mrs. Mondy, explains. “She just called home to Louisiana and
got some old herbal remedies. She also went on the internet, called friends and family that were doctors and did some exhaustive research. She found alternatives to birth defect causing pharmaceuticals and my grandson was born perfectly healthy.”
Soon after, Gollman found work as a counselor at Wayne State University. One month later, her husband became very ill. After six long months of midnight trips to the emergency room, Anoa Gollman realized that she had to, once again, get back on her research wagon. Ultimately, she found herbal solutions that would resolve the problem.
The Gollman family troubles were far from over. On the way to a family funeral in New Orleans, she and her 3 month old son were struck by a truck. “It literally fell on top of our car,” said Gollman, who sustained crushed bones in her leg that rendered her completely unable to walk. “This was the closest to death I had ever been.” Miraculously, her son was unharmed.
It was a life altering experience. After a year of intensive physical therapy, Gollman began to get serious about her hobby of making her own natural hair and skin products for her family and friends. At this time, she began to realize that this could become a viable business.
In 2002, Gollman incorporated Sheago Cosmetics and started selling cosmetics to small health food stores in Detroit. Using the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that had been so instrumental in restoring her family back to health the business began to thrive. She began traveling from across the country selling her line of bath and body products—all while working as a full time counselor
at WSU and a part time therapist at the Wayne County Jail, as well as a full time mother and wife. Within three years she was in 70 stores and in 17 states.
It was hard work. After twelve hours of counseling women plagued by substance abuse and domestic violence, Gollman would go home, prepare dinner, and spend time with her son while her husband was in night school. At 8:00 p.m., she would put her son to bed and begin making organic cosmetics, working often until 2 or 3 in the morning just to get back up at 6a.m. to work at the University.
Not content to leave her son with a babysitter during out-of-town trips, Gollman would strap her little boy into her trusty old Chevy Lumina. “My child was in the stroller, and my cosmetics were
in the diaper holder in the back,” she explained. “I brought toys along and created a corner for him
to play in while I talked to store owners, but that child was always getting into something. So, in the city of New York, my son goes by “Mischief”, which later became the name of two baby
products. New York buyers would make fun of my accent because I would affectionately call my baby Mamatuga, a Louisiana expression for Mama‟s Sugar. The term become so popular in New
York, we named the children‟s line Mamatuga. It was an overwhelming success. ”I learned to just
be proud of who I am and make it work for me,” Gollman continued.
Little Mischief has been in accelerated classes since kindergarten. His academic success is mostly due to his mother‟s creativity. “I created songs and played games for him to learn basic skills while riding in the car or waiting for me to get out of meetings,” she explained. “I simply refused to let
other people raise him while I was „raising‟ my business.”
It was extremely trying for Mrs. Gollman, but she was making headway until the dreaded day of October 31, 2004. A fire ripped through the Gollman home. The fire began at 5 a.m. inside of the basement walls. After burning for hours the home and business were completely destroyed.
“Because I had a home business, I watched my home, my corporation and my nonprofit company,
designed to help other women like myself overcome life traumas, all go up in flames. I had to start all over. It was devastating,” she states. “We then had to move into a temporary apartment shelter
for a year while still providing for Whole Foods Market.”
Through all of this turmoil Mrs. Gollman‟s marriage began to weaken. “It was tough for us
because we never saw one another. He was in school full time. I was having difficulties at work and we were having life challenges together. I was married, but I felt like a single mom. It was lonely. I began gaining a lot of weight. Food became my lover and I later realized that I had an eating disorder. At one point I weighed 270lbs. It was also during this time that I began showing early signs of Lupus. With grotesque sores all over my face and hands, I was ashamed and just barely making it emotionally,” she explained.
Believe it or not, this story gets more traumatic. Earlier one morning, Anoa Gollman was carrying 50lb buckets of shea butter up the stairwell and fell so hard that she dislodged a disc in her back. The doctor told her to stop carrying heavy things; but not having much assistance, she did not.
“I had little help and I refused to let the business that I had worked so hard for go down the drain, so I pressed on and my condition worsened to the point of walking with a cane. They told me that my condition was not curable and it would never get better. The doctors told me that at best, I could stop working at this type of job to stop the progression so it would not get worse. The problem was that I was not ready to be disabled at 34. I told the doctor that God heals!
A month later I saw an old lady in a wheel chair at a Natural Cosmetics show. When she saw me walking with a cane she said, „baby, you are too young to be looking so pitiful. I‟m going to give
you the number of my chiropractor.‟” Today, with the help of an honest chiropractor, good herbs,
the belief in God and personal will power, Anoa not only walks every morning she runs 5 miles.
At 38, Anoa Gollman would need a good back to walk through her 35,000 square foot warehouse, which she acquired in 2006 on the eastside of Detroit. Today, in 2009 just 8 years after incorporating, her multi-national company is the largest provider of grade A shea (or food
grade) butter products in the United States.
It is one of the few physician endorsed body care lines in the country. It is also one of the only cosmetic companies in America that uses African resources. Sheago also has native African co-owners, practices fair trade and works directly with women in African villages.
Even more amazing is the fact that Anoa Gollman accomplished this while being a full time mother and wife refusing to give governance of her son over to strangers while she built her company. Today, Amiri Kamau Gollman‟s math and reading are two grade levels ahead of his age group. She is an amazing mother with a lot of courage and an uncompromising spirit.
Back to the beginning of this story, so what happened with Whole Foods? With the encouragement and support of a compassionate team of dynamic individuals throughout the Whole Foods Market chain, Anoa Gollman recently acquired placement in her fourth WFM region. “I learned from Whole Foods Market that Whole Planet starts at home. I am proud to be a part of the locally
grown program and I humbly and sincerely thank Whole Foods for all of their kindness and love.”
by Diane Reeder, Metro Parent Magazine
MmmŸ Takes America?
An American Story of True Entrepreneurship
Book release - July 4, 2009