I’ve spent four decades living and breathing hair. There have been several phases of my career, but a pivotal one was a decade ago when I was traveling the globe and executing hair campaigns with A-listers. I needed to achieve perfect hair results without any product buildup for high-budget commercials. Therefore, I tailor-made instant hair repair formulas to help me.
On a professional set, you get one chance to get it right. Time is money, and you need to work fast. I steadily worked in Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia and the U.S. — a melting pot of hair textures. The formulas needed to work instantly, and they had to repair all hair types.
There was never a plan to manufacture my three signature formulas for anyone other than myself. The turning point was when my celebrity clients wanted to order the formulas, which planted the seed. I started considering whether I should manufacture more product than just for my use and honor the orders that were building up. To me, starting my own company meant interrupting what had already been a very successful career as a freelance hairdresser. It takes courage to take the financial risk to start such an endeavor.
Finally, I launched my product line four years ago. I opted for a clean, simple, luxury packaging. I did not do any market studies to help me decide on the packaging and the aesthetics of the brand. Instead, I followed my intuition and what would please me to buy as a customer. Today, my brand is seen as bespoke, indie and niche. Here’s how I grew a successful business and you can, too.
Being a niche company forced us to do things differently. While we control every single aspect of our brand and the products, we decided to install an asset-light model. We handpicked our production and fulfillment companies, both family businesses who understood and accommodated the needs of a startup. Especially when you’re just starting your company, this can be important while production quantities are limited.
We decided to do almost everything differently from our competitors. One example is that we do not offer the back-bar products that the hairdressers use when they shampoo and condition their clients for free. As a small company, we could not afford it. It turned out not to be an issue. The hairdressers love witnessing the enthusiasm of their customers, who return to the salon precisely because of the difference my products make, and now all salons that retail our products also use them in their back-bar.
Don’t Spend A Lot On Marketing At First
It’s been a steep learning curve as we started from a small seed. Word of mouth has been the most significant vehicle in building our brand. We had no budget for significant PR, so we started with Instagram and Facebook accounts and invested in a simple online website. Right now, we began to implement a much more sophisticated digital web-infrastructure with the latest technologies and functionalities, including a state-of-the-art B2B platform. This allows us to offer the best possible service for the top salons who carry us and for our consumers.
Being smaller than other brands allows you to serve your customers in a much more personalized fashion. To me, each customer is a part of our family and has to be treated as such. I decided early on never to compromise on that.
Think Twice Before Using Influencers
Many indie brands rely too much on influencer marketing, but I rarely work with them because many influencers have lost their integrity. To me, honesty is of utmost importance, so I don’t want to engage influencers to mention our brand. However, we receive a lot of organic word of mouth and have a large bank of hashtags because people (including a lot of my celebrity clients) post and hashtag my products continuously. I will never get tired of the excitement of discovering who is using and loving my brand.
Be Involved With Your Brand
I am very hands-on. All the formulations and branding are my own. My husband is the CEO and takes care of numbers, contracts and global growth. A strategy firm supports us in our brand execution. Our team, which we connect with daily, is scattered in different cities.
My company did not start as a dream for a niche luxury brand. It started with my personal need to have the best tools to do my job. It became a brand because of its high performance. It just happened and grew, and I’m along for the ride giving this company every breath I breathe.
My advice to any small business starting would be to be sure of your products and their performance. Integrity is everything.