What prompted you to start your business?
My experience as a Sales Manager for a major hair extensions brand convinced me that I can help stylists dramatically increase their income without increasing their hours.
I met with thousands of stylists and was struck by the fact that most stylists don’t do extensions at all, about one in ten stylists have 3 to 5 different extension clients and amazingly, a handful of stylists do 5-12 extension clients a week!
What were that handful doing differently I wondered? Did they have a unique skill? Did they specialize and only do extensions?
Here’s what I found. Most stylists feel they don’t have the clientele for extensions and some of them feel that it takes too long to do extensions and they make more money doing cuts and colors.
Around one in ten stylists do have a handful of clients who want that celebrity style long, sexy hair.
A very, very few stylists use extensions to fill-in thinning around the front and sides, broken mid-lengths and ends or to give volume back to thinning hair clients and they also use blonde extensions instead of balayage or foil.
These stylists do more services per client than average, have higher ticket prices as a result and higher retention rates.
I was excited to use the habits of these very successful extension stylists as a training program for other stylists.
What did you try?
A family member who has vacationed in India for years connected me with a supplier of Indian Temple hair. His weave hair was great for an ethnic clientele.
I thought it would be fantastic for fusion extensions aimed at women with age-related fine and thinning hair. It had a soft beautiful wave that would be perfect for adding volume without weight. After six months of testing his weave hair I asked him to create fusion extensions and that is when the struggles began.
What worked, what didn’t?
The hair had lovely texture and the bond melted beautifully with a regular iron but too slowly on a cold fusion machine. I wanted it to work with a cold fusion machine as well as with a regular iron. I knew I needed more prototypes and more testing to create the ideal bond. That supplier would not work with me on creating a different form of Keratin bond, so I was back to square one.
Did you think about giving up? Why didn’t you?
It was very scary not to have a supplier of top quality hair extensions given that I had quit my job to pursue this business opportunity.
However, I knew that the big extension brands don’t make their own hair and if I just kept trying I would find a source of great hair. I reached out to every industry connection I had made over thirty years who might know a hair source and manufacturer who could help me. I talked with four different companies and chose a gentleman with a factory in India and connections in Italy, Germany and China.
What was the catalyst behind the development of your first product or service?
Along with the prototype fusion extensions my vendor included samples of Tape In extensions and I gave them to a friend who is certified with many different extension brands and she installed them on herself. After a few weeks of treating them carefully as normal she deliberately abused them for the next four weeks and they stayed in and did not shed or tangle. She told me I had a winner.
What are your problems in bringing it to market?
Stylists are bombarded with false claims about hair quality and are understandably skeptical. The only true test of hair extensions is to wear them for a few months and experience how they tolerate being slept in and styled as well as the move-up process. There is no quick path to success and I am committed to offering hands-on classes around the country so that stylists can test my extensions for themselves.
What is unique about your company?
I want to help stylists have the career of their dreams while being true to my core values of
mutual respect, honesty and loyalty. I am at my best when working with creative, energetic and passionate stylists who make their clients look great and have fun doing it.
I believe that great stylists who are successful behind the chair are the best people to guide other stylists. My job is to discover them, get their input on what makes for the best education experience and then empower them to deliver that experience to other stylists.
I am selling extensions online to stylists only and not going through distributors or salespeople and using those savings to offer great hair at a great price as well as very affordable regional hands-on classes.
How do you ensure you keep innovating?
My vision is to have between 25 and 50 unusually successful stylists around the country exchanging ideas on a consistent schedule so as to effectively help stylists have the career of their dreams. I will act as the facilitator of that creative process and share those ideas and behaviors with my clients.
We show respect for each other with the following individual behaviors:
Humility: none of us is wiser than our collective team.
Mutual Respect: we assume the best about each other.
Integrity: we do the right thing when no one is looking.
Loyalty: we aspire to speak as if the other person is listening to everything we are saying about them.
Compassion: we treat others as we wish to be treated in a similar situation.