Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Passion project turned small business: 2023 Powers Pitch Competition winner shares her journey to success


Aleah Gramblin ’23 discovered a passion for helping others who experience hair loss when she herself began experiencing it during high school. Along with her parents undergoing chemotherapy, Gramblin knew she had to do something.

During her junior year of high school, she was also working on obtaining her cosmetology license, so she decided to use her skills to find a solution to her problem. Her solution: creating wigs. Although she had worked with hair in the past while pursuing her cosmetology license, creating wigs ended up being a completely different experience. “The first wig I made was completely horrible. But I was okay with that, and I actually still have it,” Gramblin reflects. “It’s kind of like I framed it at this point because it will never get worn again, but I keep it because it’s just good to look back and see where this all started.”

Her desire to help others propelled her to continue making wigs and would eventually result in the creation of her business Girls Love Lace. After graduating high school, Gramblin chose to continue her education at Clemson as a business management major.

When she entered the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business as a first-year student, Gramblin recalled the specific instance when everything clicked, and she decided to turn her passion into a true business. “My first year was during the height of the pandemic. I remember going to see Dean York speak. She highlighted many of the local businesses that were succeeding despite the circumstances, and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a part of that community. It propelled me to seriously start thinking about creating a business.”

From there, her family joined together to support her, with her dad working with Gramblin to build an in-home salon, which she still uses today for her company today. “My parents really have supported me with the business. I still tell my dad that he’s my number one employee,” she muses. “My mom and sister have been such an important part of my being able to do this. I’m very grateful for them.”

Working to build her business while simultaneously being a student did not come without its challenges; however, Gramblin made sure to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to her during her undergraduate years, including entering and winning the Powers Pitch Competition for student entrepreneurs. “What I found after I won the Powers Pitch Competition is that it reinforced something that I already knew: that there was value in the business I was creating and the idea behind it,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of great collaborations with people through connections I made. It was a rewarding experience.”

Gramblin is very hopeful about the future of Girls Love Lace, emphasizing the importance of community. “I think over the last year, I’ve seen how important community is. Not just because people need the community but because businesses need the community as well. Businesses thrive on community,” she explains. “My hope for the future is to continue cultivating the tight-knit community that has already been created on a local scale and expand it to a national or even international level.”

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