Miami Presents: A Recipe for Success - Student Entrepreneur on Finding Confidence and Founding a Company

Presented on: Thursday, December 8th at 12:00 PM EST

Organizational and Social Change

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Miami University student VaLanDria Smith-Lash was in middle school when her mother was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease.

“The disorder and medication wreaked havoc on her hair, skin, and confidence. I wanted to help her get relief, so I did research and consulted with her doctors on natural things that would be beneficial without producing further side effects,’’ she recalled. “After much trial and error, a family recipe was born.”

She started selling Coarse Culture products eight years ago when she was just 14 years old. Back then, growing up on Chicago’s South Side, she couldn’t focus on her budding business selling her products of whipped shea butter with all-natural ingredients as much because of school and extracurricular activities. Today, she’s selling her products on Amazon, all while preparing next spring to graduate from Miami, where she is a senior majoring in Speech Pathology and Audiology.
Join the Miami University Alumni Association and D. Ellis Rates '14, Associate Director, Intercultural Initiatives, as he chats VaLanDria about running a successful business, while also going to school full-time. We will talk about the birth of Coarse Culture and how it has grown to now be a product sold on Amazon. 
VaLanDria Smith-Lash '23, Founder of Coarse Culture
VaLanDria is the founder of Coarse Culture and a lover of self-care. She is a vastly ambitious, caring individual who is dedicated to forming a "Take Care" community. As head of the company, she is determined to build a product line that improves the well-being of each and every customer. Along with leading the company, VaLanDria is a full-time college student and Evans Scholar.
D. Ellis Rates '14, Associate Director, Intercultural Initiatives
D. Ellis Rates is a Miami alum of Miami University, Class of 2014. At Miami, he earned his bachelor's degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies with a minor in Film. He earned his Master's from Walsh University in Counseling and Human Development with a focus in Student Affairs in Higher Education in 2020. From there, D. Ellis landed a role at Hiram College as the Director of Campus Involvement/Assistant Director of Diversity & Inclusion. D. Ellis returns to Miami to fulfill his dream role and bring his insight, experience, and fun-loving attitude to the CSDI. Try starting a conversation with D. Ellis about movies, TV shows, video games, Cleveland sports, cartoons, music, and/or random pop culture trivia!
The presentation is free to watch online, but registration is required. Please reach out to Emily LeFevers,, with questions.

The views expressed by presenters are their own and their appearance in a program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Miami University Alumni Association.