Elevating Beyond Your Environment with Aisha Ceballos-Crump

Aisha Ceballos-Crump is a first-generation Hispanic American who is the founder of two beauty brands, Botanika Beauty and Honey Baby Naturals, both multi-million dollar brands that are sold in Walmart, Target, and Sally. She is also a member of The Global Beauty Alliance and Target’s Business Partner Council, serving as the only minority woman focusing on diversity and inclusion in Target’s stores.

Aisha was born and raised in Indiana. Both of her grandparents immigrated to Gary, Indiana during the steel industry boom to create a better life for their families, but when the steel industry crashed, so did the city. The entire city changed nearly overnight, and Aisha grew up determined that she would not stay in that place.

Aisha always had teachers who saw something in her. They would pull her parents aside and say Aisha’s talents were wasted where she was, but they couldn’t afford private school. One teacher in particular pushed Aisha to apply for a performing arts school, and she got in. It was still a public school, but it was a very different experience – and it was being in theater that gave her confidence she carried with her throughout her life.

Through that high school experience, Aisha really wanted to be an actress, but the truth is she knew that was a long shot, and she didn’t want to remain poor for the rest of her life. A college recruiter who was passionate about picking the brightest students from the inner city found her and encouraged her to get into engineering. She signed up to be a chemical engineer, got a full ride to Purdue University, and, honestly, had no idea what she was getting herself into. After getting 4.0s her whole life, her first semester at college gave her a harsh reality check of how underprivileged people in her position were, and she ended up getting a GPA of 2.6. But she stuck with it, she found environments she was comfortable in, and, eventually, she graduated with honors – all the while knowing she did not want to become an engineer.

She met her husband in college, and, instead of going with one of the engineering jobs, she took her impressive degree and moved back to Chicago to work with her dad, selling tacos. Eventually, as she looked for other jobs, she found a recruiter who recognized that she didn’t want to be an engineer. He pointed her to a high-paying sales job. She still didn’t love it, but it gave her some stability. At 28, and with a kid, she realized that she wanted to start her own business. She heard a casting call for Richard Branson’s TV show Rebel Billionaire. She went for it, and, out of 250,000 applicants, she was selected to be on the show. This became the turning point where she decided she would do anything she wanted to do, and find a way to make it happen.

Determined to show everyone what she was capable of, Aisha flew out to London to be on the show… only to be eliminated in the first episode. Devastated, she went back home, feeling like a failure, but the producers called her back for the finale and she had an amazing time. She felt like she belonged. She decided then and there that she was going to put her all into making her business dreams come true. She quit her high-paying job, put her entire life’s savings on the line, and, eventually, Honey Baby Naturals was born.

Aisha later founded Botanika Beauty to embrace her heritage, and, in her first year, got into 300 Target and 1,200 Walmart locations. In her place on the Small Business Council at Target, she fights for diversity, inclusion, and representation.

What Brett asks:

  • [01:01] Can you tell us about the beginning? Where you grew up, the family dynamic, all of it?
  • [03:19] What do you remember about being in this environment and seeing it “go away?”
  • [07:33] How did you learn to embrace your gifts instead of dumbing them down?
  • [14:30] Can you tell me about your performing arts school experience?
  • [18:09] Tell me about how your college life and early career emerge?
  • [24:24] What happened when you realized that you didn’t want to become an engineer?
  • [30:28] When did you realize how everything in your life started coming together?
  • [41:54] Can you tell us a little about Honey Baby and what you’re up to now?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • No matter what environment you grow up in, no matter what your situation is, you do not have to become a product of that environment. That doesn’t mean things will be easy or that they will be fair. When Aisha went to college, she first realized the odds that were stacked against her. It was difficult, but she managed to face those odds head on and overcome them.
  • Find people who support and encourage you. This is the kind of lesson that’s best to learn young, but, no matter what age you are, you can still accomplish great things with the right support from others. Teachers, mentors, loved ones, whoever it is – find people that can lift you up and show you that you are capable of great things.