This Delco Local Made the Forbes “30 Under 30” List

Barbara DelleMonache grew up self-concious about her curly hair. Now her brand, Curls Monthly, is sweeping the nation.

The traditional path through cosmetology training was never an option for Barbara DelleMonache. (They don’t teach curls in hair school.) The Delco-born entrepreneur always had a passion for beauty and haircare, but she needed to create her own path to pursue her dream.

That ambition blossomed into Curl Vitality, a virtual curly hair coaching service, and Curls Monthly, a subscription service geared toward women and girls with curly hair. Each month, members receive a package with the latest and hottest haircare products to help them embrace their curls, something DelleMonache was never encouraged to do in her youth.

Raised in Upper Darby, DelleMonache was shamed for having curls. During her school years amid the era of pop-punk and Avril Lavigne, she remembers when stick-straight hair was the only style in vogue.

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“I actually had a middle school boyfriend break up with me because he didn’t like my curly hair,” DelleMonache recalls.

While it now serves as a foundational story for the leading entrepreneur, that experience could have easily had negative results instead. DelleMonache might have bottled that incident deep inside her psyche and never found love for herself.

Barbara DelleMonache grew up shamed for her curly hair, now Curls Monthly is one of the top cosmetoglogy brands nation-wide.
Barbara DelleMonache grew up shamed for her curly hair. Now, Curls Monthly is one of the top subscription brands nationwide.

Instead, she reached out to her community. Growing up in such a diverse area, she remembers talking to people of color at her school, who would encourage her to accept her hair and teach her which products to use.

When DelleMonache graduated high school, she considered cosmetology school but knew it wouldn’t cater to her larger goals.

“I know that I [didn’t] want to learn how to do a manicure when really all I wanted to do was hair, curly hair,” she shares. “The cosmetology school system was created in the ’70s, so it’s extremely outdated, and that’s something that needs to be fixed.”

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As a young, aspiring entrepreneur from Philly’s western suburbs, she knew that the path to success wouldn’t be to follow in the footsteps of others. After a brief stint on the West Coast looking for a career in Hollywood, DelleMonache returned to the East Coast with a plan.

Casting directors had told her that she would “never work a day with that curly hair.” Now, DelleMonache would prove them wrong.

She went through rigorous self-training, watching every video and reading every book on curly haircare she could get her hands on. After that, she was ready to challenge the industry standard.

Her first entry into the market was Curl Vitality, a curl coaching service and brand.

“After I taught myself, I transformed my mom’s hair and some friends’ and family’s hair. And I was like, ‘I’m good at this and, clearly, I know what I’m doing. I’m doing something that no hairstylist does or teaches,’” DelleMonache recalls.

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During the depths of the pandemic, with stores shuttering across the country, DelleMonache’s curls journey took off. Stuck inside, her customers had time to burn, and they were happy to use that free time to restore their hair.

“I started to post videos on TikTok just to find clients. And I think the third or fourth video I posted went mega-viral.  I gained like 60,000 followers literally overnight that day, and I had 1,000 people on the waitlist to work with me,” DelleMonache remembers.

@itsbarbiedelle Have you ever described your hair this way? #curlyhairfordays #haircaretip #selfcaretiktok #blondeshavemorefun ♬ original sound – Barbie Delle

The experience was both amazing and overwhelming. Naturally, she couldn’t get to everyone who wanted her tutoring, but for a year and a half, she worked her way through a wildly enthusiastic waitlist. All the while, she knew she had to find a way to reach customers on a larger scale.

Burnt out from working all day with guests hungry for her thoughts, she remembers praying and thinking, “What do I do with my life?”

The answer came to her almost miraculously. She took her small team, composed only of herself and three others, and told them to shut everything down.

“‘We’re going to stop everything we’re doing and we’re going to try to open a curly hair subscription service,’” she remembers telling them. 

It was a huge risk, and DelleMonache was well aware that she might lose all she had built.

“Launching a business is [a gamble]. You might as well just step onto the casino floor and play blackjack,” she says. “You could do all the research you want, but at a certain point you’ve got no idea if it’s going to work.”

The turnaround was fast. Just two months later, Curls Monthly had a successful launch, selling out in an impressive 36 hours. Carrying products from Fortune 500 companies down to the smallest indie brands, the service began sending subscribers exciting haircare goodies each month.

After beginning with a team of three, DelleMonache now employs a marketing director, video editor, TikTok manager and more. She has employees whose full-time job is meeting with brands to pitch them on being part of Curls Monthly. Her team is still small, but not so small that the brand has escaped recognition.

In fact, Curls Monthly has been so successful that DelleMonache was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for retail and commerce in 2024. With nearly a million TikTok followers and projected revenue of $1.2 million in 2023, Curls Monthly has been a resounding success.

“[Forbes] had a party for the people who won, and we always have imposter syndrome about ourselves. We never think that what we’re doing is that great. But when you’re at a party with other people who won Forbes ’30 Under 30′ and they’re NASA rocket scientists and literally curing cancer, it puts it into perspective,” DelleMonache observes. “You’re like, ‘Ok, it’s different, obviously, but it’s not a mistake. Clearly, I’m doing something that’s impactful just like these people are.’”

Despite lacking traditional training, DelleMonache has a curly hair expertise that few can rival. She knows and has tested every product that comes in the mailer. Each subscription package comes with a write-up from DelleMonache herself as well as a QR code to a YouTube video showing just how to use it.

From humble origins in her dining room, DelleMonache is building an empire that is still growing. She never went to college or cosmetology school, but she’s more successful today than almost any other hair expert worldwide.

“I gambled on myself and I’m getting a great return,” she says. “It’s almost like winning the jackpot.”

Related: Master Barber Jodi Murray Hones His Craft in Chester County

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