Chafik Abdellaoui has always considered himself an entrepreneur. Originally from Morocco, he first came to the United States in 2008 to pursue a BA in business. After traveling and launching a website in France, he returned to the U.S. in 2011 to attend the University of South Florida. He graduates this spring with an MBA degree.
Abdellaoui's mother was a beauty professional for many years, owning a spa in Casablanca, Morocco. Seeing his mother's success gave him the inspiration to get into the business himself.
In March 2012, Abdellaoui launched Prettymanagement.com
, an online solution that allows beauty salon and spa managers to manage their customers, inventory, staff and marketing.
In March of this year, he started another company by the name of Pretty Argan
. The cosmetics company produces organic, all-natural products using argan oil, a plant oil extracted from the kernel of the argan tree in the Souss Valley of Morocco.
The oil is extracted from the argan fruit, which grows on a 200-year-old tree that only grows in that part of the world. Women in a local cooperative pick the fruit, break the kernel inside and extract the oil from the kernel by hand.
Abdellaoui and his fiance discovered the oil while traveling to the Souss Valley. They noticed the Berber people there used it for almost everything – their skin, hair, food and some medicinal purposes. The oil is very popular in Europe, but isn’t as well known in the United States. Abdellaoui decided to dive in and launch a company to increase awareness of the benefits of the oil in the U.S. The oil is imported from Morocco, and the products are formulated and marketed in Tampa Bay.
"I enjoy the entrepreneurial venture of trying to achieve something using my energy, time and investment," says Abdellaoui. He also likes that the company helps guarantee jobs for women in the Souss Valley.
Abdellaoui attributes the connections made while in the USF MBA program with helping him get the business launched. His graduate assistant position gave him direct access to the resources in the USF Center for Entrepreneurship
. He also joined Tampa Bay WaVE’s
roundtable and is using their co-working space.
"I'm trying to take advantage of as many resources as possible that are available to entrepreneurs in Florida," says Abdellaoui. "Tampa is a very good area because it does provide a lot of these resources."
Once becoming more established in Tampa, Abdellaoui plans to distribute Pretty Argan statewide and eventually across the nation.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chafik Abdellaoui, Pretty Argan