Founder and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, providing professional grade hair extensions for hundreds of thousands of Black women, the "bad ass female entrepreneur" Vivian Kaye joins Pitstop for a very special, extra long 1-on-1 about building your brand from scratch to cash.
It's every entrepreneur's dream to create a 7-figure earning brand with their own hands, but few have the skills or hustle needed, and even fewer still have the luck, to find the right opportunity at the right moment, and know how to take advantage of it.
Success wasn't achieved overnight for Toronto's Vivian Kaye, who started out 15 years ago with a side business doing wedding decor and designs. While she was able to turn VD&D into a 6-figure company, it wasn't until she thought about herself and her own needs first, rather than her client's, that she discovered the product and mission that would change her life.
Here's how VIvian Kaye and KinkyCurlyYaki went from at-home DIY to hair-care product must-buy.
6:15 At Home Solutions. The best selling products fill a need, solve a problem, and improve the life of the customer, and there is no customer's need you understand more than you own. When the hair-care industry couldn't offer Vivian the quality other customers could expect, she struck out on her own to do it herself.
Simply looking to make her own life a little easier, so she could focus on her then-main business, she learned how to make the product she wanted, who could help her make it, and familiarized herself with the common complaints of other customers so she could avoid those problems.
- What have you already innovated, researched or developed to make your own life easier, that you're not yet taking full opportunity of?
7:55 Grow It Organically. Any product, company or brand can buy some advertising space on Facebook, the site isn't too picky about whose money they'll take, and there's always more to flood its closed network with.
To make a real, lasting impact and impression with your first customers, you have to get personal, and let them get a little personal with you.
Though Vivian saw a potential gap in the market, providing professional looking protective styles for Black women with a more natural look, but didn't see an opportunity to capitalize on the idea. It wasn't until she was read the experiences of others online, and was approached at an event where she was promoting her decor business, that she saw her chance and her market.
- Your first customers can be your most powerful brand ambassadors. Their satisfaction with the product & excitement from getting in on the ground floor is the best promotion for your business, costs you nothing in marketing dollars, and they'll never hesitate to eagerly and proudly share with any new potential customers.
- Find someone you know would love the product just as much as you do, and send them some free samples. They will not only generate leads, they'll give you honest reviews and fantastic promotional copy, in the honest language of the customers.
- Be honest, open and yourself with your earliest customers and any potential customers you gather market research from. People only feel used and abused when they've been outright ignored, taken advantage of by someone they don't know, or are quickly forgotten. Be there for your community, and they'll be there for you.
10:00 Build Your Inventory Brick By Brick. You may think that in order to sell $ 1 million in product, you have to have $1 million worth of product, but that's taking an unnecessary gamble, and putting the cart far ahead of the horse.
Relying on the revenue from her previous wedding design business, Vivian took it slow and steady, re-investing any profits from sales back into buying more product, and playing the waiting game until word of mouth lead to ever increasing sales and clicks. This allowed her to take KinkyCurlyYaki from a couple of Rubbermade buckets to a 1000 square foot warehouse.
- Only buy the stock you need until you've found a promotional partner who will take your brand awareness to a new level. This will help you avoid unexpected loss should the business fall through, but will also keep things manageable, and allow you to maintain the highest quality.
16:25 Adopt, adapt & Always improve. It's not just the customer's taste that changes over time. As personal technology and ecommerce advance and become more integral to everyone's day to day lives, so will their inherent understanding of the tech, and how they use it.
With the advent of pay-to-play promotion, for-purchase bots and other algorithm based systems, plus competition from larger overseas markets who can manufacture products for penny on the dollar and dig into deep pockets to hire talent, Vivian and KinkyCurlyYaki have had to work extra hard to stay on top of the industry.
- Always keep one eye open for market, technology and behavioural changes, be it from customers, industry or providers. Seeing the next big wave coming can mean the difference between riding it to new heights, and seeing it all come crashing down.
Put yourself out there, be open and honest, and be the company Amazon and your overseas competitors never can be
- Tags: organic ecommerce