I recently shared that I was invited to speak at the Start Up Africa Do it Now Now Hair and Beauty Anti-Pop event. It was a great day and it was fantastic to be able to connect with a number of #brownbeauty entrepreneurs at differing stages of their business journey.
At the event, I spoke about the British Beauty Industry and shared some stats and facts – which I love (yes, I am a geek!) – and instantly connected with a fellow lover of numbers Melissa Sinclair, founder of Big Hair Beauty.
#EVENT #LONDON Melissa will be there. Will you? @bighair Link in bio. .. .. Big Hair Beauty is a natural haircare brand for curly, kinky, coily hair. It marries a passion of healthy living and a love of fabulous curls and awesome afros to an ever-growing market of conscious consumers.. Committed to using 100% goodness and 0% harmful ingredients, the innovative range of curl care products has become a trusted favourite seen in Vogue, Psychologies Magazine, Black Beauty & Hair, Courier Magazine and more.
I discovered that Melissa was a construction professional who followed her dream to start her own hair care brand and I have asked her a few questions about how she turned this dream into a reality.
BPL: Tell me about yourself and why you started your brand?
MS: On the face of it I’m probably the least likely person to start a haircare brand, as my background’s in construction. So the journey to launching Big Hair was definitely an organic one!
I was always around hair growing up, as far back as I can remember my mum would have people over to do their hair and my family went on to own a hairdressers. It’s funny looking back because I even had a Saturday job there sweeping up hair, making tea and booking appointments – but I didn’t progress on to hair washing or anything. Of course I loved my hair looking good and got to learn about all the different styles, how long they took and how they were done (for booking purposes), but my hair was always done for me. Fast forward moving to a new city, navigating life on a student budget, and realising the cost of trips to the hairdressers – I had a lot to figure out and me and my hair just didn’t get along. After years of me trying to get it to be and do something it didn’t want, in 2010 I did a big chop and started over and realised I had been doing it all wrong. So I guess you could say that’s when the Big Hair journey officially began – when I started to unlearn – although it was very clearly written from the start!
BPL: You are now working on your brand full time and that wasn’t always the case. How did you manage the transition?
MS: I had actually already left the corporate world prior to launching and was freelancing, so I initially worked on Big Hair full time. I feel like you have to be all the way in, especially in the beginning. Although I had to take on some part time/freelance work in the second year, having that first year to focus was crucial. I’ve always been a planner, but entrepreneurship definitely teaches you a thing or two about patience, timing and the fact that nothing ever goes to plan! Honestly, I felt like a failure going back to work, but I was committed to Big Hair and it couldn’t support me and itself at the time – but I always knew a ‘day job’ would be temporary. So when I returned to work I set myself a time frame of when I’d return to Big Hair full time again and I followed through on that. Budgeting, sacrifices, and being willing to change the plan were essential in making it work.
BPL: What has made you most proud during your entrepreneurial journey to date? What have been the challenges?
MS: I’m just really proud that Big Hair is still going! That I’m still going. Entrepreneurship is an interesting and difficult journey to say the least. Most businesses fail within the first 3 – 5 years and we’re in a position to be getting ready to relaunch so I’m really proud of that.
Since our launch back in 2013 there have been a lot of challenges, from securing manufacturing, to supply issues, to securing retailers – you name it, I’ve experienced it. But it’s just about pushing through. Most of the time we never give ourselves enough credit because we’re still chasing the big ‘feel good’ goals, but recently I looked back and thought, “Wow! Do you remember when you were mixing products by hand and now you’re signing off samples with a manufacturer.” That felt really good, as sometimes I forget how far I’ve come.
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BPL: What 3 tips would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to follow in your footsteps?
MS: Do your research. And when you think you’ve finished, research a little more.
Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, this will help you so much as you and your business grow.
Outsource. When you know what you’re not good at and what you don’t enjoy, as soon as your budget allows, outsource it and focus on the things you’re good at.
BPL: Who inspires you?
Children. They’re so honest and pure and almost always hilarious because of their utter boldness. Whenever I have conversations with kids I’m genuinely in awe of how much you can learn from them if you’re paying attention! It’s a reminder to just be you, with no pretence and no inhibitions. I wish we all kept a little bit of that magic whilst growing up.
BPL: It is said that readers are leaders – what book are you currently reading and why?
I’m such a book worm! At my old book club we used to read 2 books at a time, so I still do that. I tend to read one for business, and one for pleasure.
I’m currently reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith for the second time, because I power read it over a weekend when it first came out so I didn’t hear any more spoilers [the interviewer at the book launch gave the biggest spoiler and I didn’t want it to happen again], but I feel like I read it too quickly to fully enjoy it.
I’m also reading David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – ‘The Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants’, as I thought it would be great preparation for our relaunch. The industry has changed so much since I launched Big Hair in 2013, and the industry giants are dominating the market so us smaller brands are having to work harder and smarter. I’m hoping that something in the book will spark an idea and we’ll relaunch swinging, taking the giants down and making space for us smaller brands to carve a name for ourselves.
BPL: What can we expect from Big Hair and Beauty in the next 3 -5 years?
MS: Growth and newness – new branding, new products, new markets, new collaborations, and a new approach! All will be revealed soon with our relaunch, I just can’t wait to get it out there and share it with everyone
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