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Jayla Stampley’s “Hair Sauce” is more than a shampoo.

Earning her the top prize in Dominican University’s Second Annual Launchpad Business Pitch Competition, the product, says Stampley, represents pride in natural Black hair and embracing one’s real self.

“For me, it’s a huge part of supporting the resurgence of natural haircare ingredients in my community, while also spreading positivity and authenticity,” the 2024 Dominican University graduate shared. “It’s about showing up as your true self, which is also what this brand means to me.”

Judged by a panel of area business professionals, the Launchpad Business Pitch Competition encourages current students and recent Dominican graduates to present their small, start-up business ventures and compete to win funding to help grow their companies. This financial support is made possible thanks to donor contributions to the Entrepreneur Launchpad Fund (ELF), which was developed by professors in Dominican’s Brennan School of Business as a way to give student start-ups a financial boost and encourage entrepreneurship.

This year, five finalists presented their concepts before five judges.

“Overall, the caliber of pitches was competitive, and now five students have the necessary funds to either start their dream business or help their existing business grow,” said Dr. Anne Drougas, interim associate dean in the Brennan School of Business and a lead organizer of the 2024 Launchpad competition.

As the first-place winner, Stampley was awarded $10,000, which she plans to use for promotion and development of additional haircare products for her Imani Origins line, which is sold online.

The brand’s featured product is Hair Sauce, a cleanser for all hair types that Stampley developed at home through research and experimentation—and some testing by family and friends. The key ingredients are rosemary, African black soap and avocado oil.

“Over the years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Black community for loving and embracing natural hair,” Stampley noted in her business summary. “The target audience is any man and woman who desires to further embrace their natural hair textures and explore the beauty of it.”

Stampley, who graduated with a degree in international business, said she was inspired and encouraged by the Brennan School of Business community to take her idea from concept to completion. 

“Getting a business going takes a lot of courage and commitment to push your idea out,” she noted. “I definitely had my doubts and setbacks, so it was encouraging to have that support from the university and my peers who have entrepreneurial skills of their own.”

Internship Inspires Digital Marketing Start-Up

Yasmin Silva, a marketing major, was the competition’s second-place winner with her proposal for Silva Sky Digital Solutions, a digital marketing service offering website creation and social media support to small businesses. She was awarded $5,000.

The company was born from Silva’s internship in social media and website consulting, which was made possible through the Brennan School of Business’ partnership with the Berwyn Development Corporation. During the internship, she worked with two Berwyn-based businesses on their websites and social media presence.

Silva credited Mike Kiyosaki, Brennan’s executive in residence and a co-creator of ELF, with encouraging her to participate in the Launchpad competition and develop her own business.

“He said, ‘you’re good at this. It’s a nice side hustle you can do,’” Silva said.

“When I’m working on these websites and social media, it doesn’t feel like work,” she added. “It’s fun and creative.”

Three other participants in the competition were each awarded $2,500 for their businesses. They included Karyme Castro ’22, founder of Just in Kase Vending Co., a restroom vending machine company providing women’s hygiene products, pain relief medication and personal care items; Gold Odedele ’24, creator of Radiance, a line of beaded bags made with Nigerian crystals and reflecting Nigerian culture; and Michelle Scott, a nutrition student who developed Thank God for Raw and Vegan Treats, a line of vegan and plant-based foods.

This year’s judges were Tom Abrahamson, founder of Rewired, LLC and past chair of the Dominican Board of Trustees; Steve Holli, executive vice president of Golin public relations firm; Abby Lombardi, retired attorney with Lord, Bissell, Brook; George Lombardi, attorney with Winston & Strawn; and Paul Schneider, partner with Keystone Partners.


Jayla Stampley
Yasmin Silva