Shubhra Sharma

“I will not allow myself to give up on an idea.”

Shubhra Sharma is the CEO of Cria Hair, a small business based in Austin, Texas. Cria Hair owns the brand Cria-100% Natural, Vegan, Gluten-free Hair Follicle Energizer (available on Ms Sharma holds a doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Sociocultural Anthropology. She has written a critically acclaimed book on globalization and several academic articles. She is also a children’s book author, a teacher, mentor, and world traveler.

Where did the idea for Cria Hair come from?

It all started with an obscure notation in my father’s diary. I found my father’s diaries upon his passing — six in total. They were just fascinating… Each diary was simultaneously a journal, a calendar, a recipe book, a memoir, a map, and even a confessional! As I came to the last few pages in his diary from 1995, a set of scribbles placed diagonally across the top of a page caught my attention in particular. I took the diary to my mother, hoping she would know what it is. In the first minute, she exclaimed—“So there it is! THE formula!” This moment marked the genesis of our company Curatif INC. and its first offering CRIA™—an all natural, vegan, hair follicle energizer that is more than 20 years in the making.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have a list of things to do and I go down that list one by one. Whether it is meeting with a new retail client or writing a shoutout, everything has to be on the list. I am kind of lost without the list.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I know what I like and I then go in search of like-minded people locally and virtually. I seek my idea soul mates, people who literally just step into your life to help you with that one problem that requires solution. The Universe always conspires to give you what you want.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The oil-as-conditioning trend in the Western market was set with the popularity of Argan oil. But Argan oil works precisely because it defies traditional notions of oil as icky and sticky. It is considered light enough to be non-existent, and therefore useable within an anti-oil culture. We produced Cria at the confluence of this dramatic new development in hair care in the West. And Cria, we are proud to say, is lighter than Argan oil!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I train my brain to act according to a plan I set the previous night. I have the ability to focus, and to persevere. I will find a way to solve a problem, any problem.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To know that there is solution to every problem. And that I am smart enough to seek it, find it, apply it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

That time is circular. It is not flat and linear. We are tricked into feeling that it is. We are all on a Ferris wheel called time, going round and round, arriving at the same moment everyday but with the belief it is new and different. It is Groundhog Day everyday that like the film gives all of us the opportunity to correct a sequence of actions for a different result.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I will not allow myself to give up on an idea. And when I am excited about an idea, I manifest it. It becomes real. I am good at manifesting, at realization.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Vulnerability. I put myself out there everyday. I pound the pavement everyday. I seek that one person everyday who could possibly become an evangelist for Cria. You just need that one person to believe in your product as much as you believe it. Social media takes care of the rest. I also don’t take rejection personally. One “no” means there has to be a “yes” somewhere I have yet to look. So I keep looking.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Failure is just information you need to go a different route. It is not a reflection on self, its inadequacies in the moment. I want to fail forward as they say. On another note, I don’t fail. I just pay attention to what didn’t work, and then make it work with this new information.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A safe place to vent. A place where you pay a fee to throw china at a brick wall and watch it explode into slivers! I think we live with pent up anger and frustration and with easy access to guns in this country, the outcome of lack of release is tragic. We can invent safe places for physical release of such insidious emotions, safely, civilly, and securely.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On a Krav-Maga class. It is the most empowering class I have ever taken. I felt limitless, physically and spiritually.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it? For a small business entrepreneur, the site offers economical options. It does require you to be exploratory in the sense, you might only find the “right person” after many trials and many errors. But the site offers refunds for services not found suitable. Making the wrong choice is inevitable but then having the choice to find the right service makes the site comforting for newbies.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I actually don’t recommend any books. And this is why. Reading what others have done before you, how they came to be entrepreneurs can go both ways. It can inspire you. But can also discourage you, fatally sometimes. I am an anthropologist by training. I do not have a degree or any formal training in entrepreneurship or marketing. Yet, here I am everything rolled into one. I am the CEO, the marketing head, the customer care service representative, the social media “expert,” and so on. And I do all this based on sheer intuition. My anthropological training made me astute in the observational sense. And somehow I have a good idea of how to make things, how to find resources to make ideas exist as material objects spatially. I just had to work on my gumption. I found inspiring words on YouTube, friends at local cafes, and I always had family’s support. So here I am. I have two marketing experts in my family. Yet, they are not entrepreneurs. I am. Sometimes being over-trained and over-read can be a debilitating to creative pursuits.

What is your favorite quote?

Everything will be okay in the end. If its is not okay, then it is not the end.

Key learnings:

For Shubhra Sharma, being an entrepreneur requires:
• Perseverance
• Vulnerability
• Self-awareness
• Courage

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