Bonnie Steen isn’t the usual Retired Mother, Grandmother and Wife. But she is a great example of an individual with a unique item, solid business plan and the drive to succeed. Bonnie’s product is Roots Only, a hair application system allowing women and men to get solutions down to their scalp and roots.
In 1973, Bonnie began working as a clerk in the Veteran’s Office at Antelope Valley College (AVC) in California. She worked her way up and went on to become Assistant Director of Financial Aid at AVC and retired with 27 years of employment. But that wasn’t the end of her career; it was only the start of another endeavor.
Bonnie had been coloring her hair for many years with the help of her twin sisters, Peggy and Nancy. But the three moved apart from each other, and this meant Bonnie had to find another way to color her own hair.
One day while visiting her hairstylist, Bonnie was informed she was damaging her hair to the point of it falling out. The hairstylist told Bonnie she needed to focus on the new growth at the “roots only.” She offered to assist her with her root coloring, but Bonnie knew that meant paying almost $70 a month.
“Whenever it came time to do my roots, I thought, there has to be a simpler way,” says Bonnie. So, Bonnie decided to try to make the process easier. She asked her husband, Claude to help. “I asked him to build a hair pick with hollow teeth that would screw onto a hair color bottle so I could comb it through my hair.” After a little coaxing, the first prototype was born.
Claude used plastic hair color bottles, capped the top and drilled a dozen small holes down the side of the bottle. He cut the straws from WD-40 cans to comb size length and glued them in place. “I can’t begin to tell you my excitement when I tried it out for the first time. It worked just as I imagined,” Bonnie exclaims.
After selling her product at county fairs, Bonnie decided to expand her operation which now includes beauty supply stores and the internet. Roots Only is currently manufactured, packaged and distributed in California. “We believe it is important to contribute to our community by keeping manufacturing and assembly jobs right here in our local communities,” says Bonnie.