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Please give us an introduction to yourself and your business
Madam Indigo is a luxury hair extensions retailer that provides, multi-textured hair extensions for women with discerning taste and connects clients with qualified hair extension specialists from all around the world, who can answer their most pressing hair concerns. Our vision is much bigger than your typical luxury hair retailer. We aim to train a sales force of dynamic women throughout Africa and Diaspora, by equipping them with essential entrepreneurial tools and training to become financially empowered.
What inspired you to start a business?
I founded Madam Indigo out of sheer frustration. As an African-American woman who is serious about my hair maintenance routine, after living abroad for five years on four different continents and traveling to nearly forty countries, I had very limited options for places to buy luxury hair extensions and hairstylists who could do my hair to my specifications. While I was living in South Korea, I caught buses, trains and subways for a total of 12 hours round-trip, hoping I didn’t wind up in North Korea, just to find a Nigerian lady who could braid my hair. I experienced my hair falling out in Brazil, because my Portuguese was so minimal my stylist mistakenly put a relaxer in my hair that burned my hair out. Most recently, I was catching 14 hour flights from Dubai to the United States to get my hair extensions properly installed. Unwittingly, these experiences spawned me to form Madam Indigo.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge is that I have to be educated on EVERY aspect of my business, from logistical matters, understanding profit and loss statements, interpreting contracts, becoming super knowledgeable about the tech side of things, communicating my message and brand effectively to contractors, brand partners and employees, outsourcing responsibilities. It’s a very delicate balancing act every second of the day, BUT it’s so rewarding to track my progress and celebrate victories along the way. Knowing that I’m building a lifestyle brand that will impact the esteem and financial trajectories of women’s lives, wakes me up at 4:30am and motivates me to work 18 and 20 hour days EVERY SINGLE DAY and feel damn good about that.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
Write down your goals. If you don’t write it down it means nothing. Visualise yourself obtaining those goals and really feel the feelings associated with those victories. Recite daily affirmations. I find “I am” statements to be especially effective. Read books, watch YouTube videos and seek counsel of positive people and business rock-stars who inspire you. As far as managing failures, expect them. It comes with the territory. If you’re not up for the inevitable possibility of failure, then this isn’t the game for you. Being an entrepreneur is about being a risk taker and failure is an essential part of the process. Accept failure for the valuable learning opportunities that they are, learn from them quickly and move on.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
In the beginning I thought that I could do everything by myself and I realise now that I was hustling backwards. I guess it was part arrogance and part naiveté. Not outsourcing pertinent tasks, like hiring an accountant, an attorney or a business adviser in the first few months was quite a costly mistake. So the biggest challenge in that way, was trying to do it all on my own. I heard a businessman say once, “Being a professional is expensive, but being an amateur cost a fortune” and it’s so true.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
Tremendously. I have a business coach that I pay in addition to a few mentors. It’s important for a few reasons. One, being an entrepreneur can be an incredibly lonely experience, because we’re these mad, obsessively driven people who are motivated by a dream that no one else really sees or understands. So my coach and my mentors are both my emotional and professional sounding boards. They keep me accountable, they help me to see a bigger vision and advise me on actionable steps and strategies to scale my business.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
I’m not sure if, I’m the best person to ask this question. I can be quite socially awkward actually. Most of my relationships have come from meeting people quite organically, through my world travels or old friends introducing me to people in their circles. Planned networking events I find to be painfully uncomfortable. I will say though, don’t ask people, “What do you do?” within 2 seconds of meeting them. Try to have an authentic engagement without seeming like you have an agenda straight away.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth? What does the future hold for you?
Scaling your business goes back to planning and writing stuff down. It’s important to have short term and long-term goals. Asking yourself the questions about where you want to be in one month, six months, one year, one years, five years and then developing strategy and taking actionable steps every day to achieve those goals. Also make sure that you’ve hired a competent team that is smarter than you and can fill your deficit areas. I plan to expand my product line to hair care products and cosmetics. I foresee Madam Indigo as a Pan-Africanist Avon of sorts.
To attend ‘The Business of Beauty’ event, which will host a Q&A session with a panel inspirational women of colour on 21st October at Vanilla London, visit http://www.Madamindigo.com. For more information about how to join the Madam Indigo sales force see https://vimeo.com/183335283
Hair extension brand providing quality hair extensions, styling aids and hair care products for women of color.
A LONDON-based Oxford graduate and his team of young black entrepreneurs have launched a new hair and beauty brand aiming to revolutionise the beauty shopping experience for women of colour across Europe.
Graduating with a first class Economics degree from Oxford University, Tommy Williams secured a much-coveted role at a large investment bank.
After two years there, and seeking something more exciting, he relocated to Nigeria, joining Africa’s first unicorn, e-commerce retailer, Jumia as a Business Development Manager, working on projects within the ever-evolving black beauty industry.
It is there that he met his co-founder Sanmi Ogunmola who was one of Jumia’s first employees in the Business Development team.
They both shared an appreciation for the sheer enormity of market and, thus, the opportunities available for anyone willing to take the leap.
Growing up in home full of women, they had a basic understanding for the products available to consumers, however, it was in Nigeria that they were able to see the “logistical and supply chain nightmare” that existed in sourcing good quality products and the disconnect that exists between sellers and consumers.
Upon his return to London, Tommy decided to pursue the idea, conducting further market research amongst friends, family and his wider network. All Shades Covered (ASC) was formed in April 2016 and quickly grew in size, with Co-Founder, Sanmi Ogunmola joining shortly after.
ASC is a sophisticated direct-to-consumer e-commerce store, selling ASC branded hair extensions and a wide selection of hair care products
Since starting in April, the team has expanded and now consists of five young black staff.
ASC has secured funding from a prominent angel investor and have been selected out of 250+ applicants to be part of the Truestart (www.truestart.co.uk) retail accelerator programme that funds some of the most game-changing retail startups globally.
The team have spent a significant amount of time conducting and developing thorough quality control procedures, as well establishing on-the-ground support in both Asia and the UK, to ensure consistently good quality at a fair price.
ASC officially launches in late October, with the intention to create an international powerhouse for black hair and beauty which “brings the shopping experience into the twenty-first century and most importantly, supports the community”.
One Indian temple reportedly earned £22million in a single year from the sale of its worshippers’ hair.
PENNILESS Indian women have their heads shaved and receive nothing in return while poor Chinese workers sort through the locks before they are bleached.
These incredible pictures show the disturbing truth behind the hair extension industry.
Britain is the world’s third biggest importer of human hair with thousands of women, including celebs from Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to Mary Berry, paying up to £1,200 to have their manes enhanced every few months.
However, few people know the unsettling journey the silky strands make before they reach up-market UK salons.
The process starts at Yadagirigutta Temple in southern India where impoverished women line up to have their heads shaved.
Indian hair is highly prized as much of it, known as ‘virgin hair’, has never been coloured, blow-dried or even cut.
Speaking to the Mail Online, Lavanya Kakala, 28, revealed that she was gifting her hair to God Vishnu and wants nothing in return.
She said: “I did this because I wanted to say thank you to my God.
“I’m not bothered what happens to my hair afterwards. If women with bad hair want to use my old hair to look better, it’s better than it going in the bin.”
The temples are supposed to plough the profits back into the community – however the vast sums of money are hard to trace.
One temple, Tirumala, reportedly earned an astonishing £22million in a single year from selling hair.
Head shaving is an act of pilgrimage for the Indian women and as many as 50,000 can be seen queuing at larger temples to take part in the ‘tonsuring’ ceremonies.
And despite its dark colour it can be bleached blonde, which is the biggest seller in UK salons.
For years, rumours have circulated that some hair extensions originate from tough Eastern European prisons where female inmates are shorn by guards.
In 2003, Victoria Beckham joked: “I’ve got Russian Cell Block H on my head.”
Hair which has been growing from an early age has more keratin, the protein which makes up strands, making it incredibly healthy.
Once the hair, which is known in the industry as ‘black gold, is collected it is transported to factories to be processed.
The first stage of processing is untangling which is done by hand and the task is painstakingly slow.
The Mail spoke to one elderly Chinese woman, 83, who works in a factory using a darning needle to untangle the strands.
She said: “I can’t see much, but I make up for it with patience.”
The hair is then ‘hackled’ which involves it being repeatedly put through a comb with sharp iron prongs to smooth it out.
The next stage is ‘drawing out’ the hair into strands of different lengths before it is combed and tied into bunches.
After that the hair is soaked, with cheaper locks doused in acid to remove germs.
High-quality hair is placed in an osmosis bath which slowly removes dark pigments without damaging the cuticles.
At the lower end of the market, human hair is sometimes mixed with horse manes or clippings from goat hides.
Synthetic hair made from acrylic fibres can also be found in extensions claiming to be ‘real’.
One celeb who may have invested in some low-quality extensions is pop superstar Britney Spears who was spotted having a seriously bad hair day on earlier this month.
While shopping in Los Angeles with friends, the singer’s extra-long hair extensions appeared to be breaking away from her scalp.
Looking casual in a pair of tiny, denim daisy dukes and an oversized pink jumper, Britney looked as though she was trying to keep a low profile.
In other bad hair day news, earlier this year a woman was left with hair extensions stuck to her head after buying ‘special’ glue off the internet.
Lauren Dewick, 25, says the adhesive was so strong even PLIERS have failed to remove the extensions.
Lauren bought and put in the extensions in February but had been trying in vain to remove them for nearly a week.
The mum-of-two said: “We’ve been trying to take them out all weekend, but the glue bonds that are left in are not softening at all – they are rock solid.
“You can’t even crush or bite them out.
“We’ve even tried using pure acetone to try to get them out and it burnt through my friend’s gloves because it was that strong, but they’re still not budging.
“I just want to cry because my hair is that important to me.”
They believe they are offering their hair to Vishnu, for protection and harmony. While they are a peace because their offering was received by the Hindu god, their set of hair is being exported all the way to China. The hair from the Indian women is washed, colored and prepared to become a brand new set of hair extensions.
Daily Mail revealed the amazing ‘journey’ of the Indian hair also known as ‘black gold’ in the hair extensions industry and most times is sold for at least £ 1,000. The biggest demand is in the UK, which is the largest importer in the world and buying 43 million tons of human hair per year!
At the Yadagirigutta Temple is located in southern India and the poor women are patiently waiting every single morning to offer their beloved set of hair to Vishnu.
Their hair is known in the industry as ‘black gold’ because most of them never dyed it and they are not drying it with a pheon. They are using a straightener, representing a major ‘jewel’ for these merchandisers.
Among the women who donate the ‘virgin hair’ to Vishnu is 28-year-old Lavanya Kakala. Although she struggled to maintain her beautiful hair in all these years, after the hairdresser who cuts it, she will not get anything in return.
‘I did this because I want to thank my god. I do not mind what happens after that with my hair. If women do not have good hair they want to use mine to look more beautiful, is enough for me’, said Lavanya.
In India, cutting their hair represents a tradition among women. They are ‘donating’ their hair to Vishnu, although they are conscious that it will then be sold to dealers.
Sometimes more than 50,000 women (per day) are waiting in massive lines to attend the ceremony of “trimming”.
It is considered an act of pilgrimage, where their heads are then coated with an antiseptic paste made from sandalwood.
Natural hair requires a ton of care, in part because it tends to be dry and delicate. The good news? It doesn’t have to stay that way for ever. Here are eight things your #hairgoals idols do that you can copy, too.
“Avoid buying a zillion different kinds of products,” says Anu Prestonia, hairstylist and owner of Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn, New York. While it’s tempting to stockpile various natural hair products (especially if you’re just transitioning your hair), you might be wasting money on things you don’t actually need. Instead, ask your stylist what will benefit you most
Prestonia has noticed that women who are transitioning their hair shift from cutting it every six weeks to just about never once they go natural. Wrong move. “Have your hair trimmed or cut seasonally,” she advises. “That’s a minimum of four times a year.” You might be trying to grow it out (the struggle has never been more real) but trims help you avoid split or frayed ends, making your locks look healthier overall.
“More and more women with natural hair are color-treating it,” says Prestonia, and that can cause serious scalp problems like excessive shedding, dry scalp, and even bald spots. And even if you’re new to natural, past use of chemical relaxers could have irritated the scalp. If you’re noticing — or feeling — tightness, itchiness, or any sort of discomfort, get it checked out by a professional ASAP. “The longer you wait, the more severe the issues may become,” says Prestonia. “Be proactive so that any damage can be halted, minimized, and healed immediately.”
Speaking of color-treating — doing it to your hair without using a mask afterwards is like taking a shot and skipping the chaser. “Coloring hair strips it of moisture and strength,” explains Prestonia. “Follow up your color services with a hair mask.” One like SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intense Hydration Masque, $13, is mega-moisturizing — it’s basically the hair equivalent of chugging a bottle of water the morning after a GNO.
To be fair, the idea of a cold shower sounds fun to no one. But for the sake of your hair, take the temp down a notch. “Hot water will ‘melt’ the conditioning elements, rinsing them out of your hair,” explains Prestonia. “Cool or cold water causes the conditioning elements to contract and adhere to your hair for a longer-lasting effect.”
Certain hairstyles can do a number on your hair. “Pulling the hair back [in a tight style] can damage follicles around the hairline,” explains Prestonia. In fact, any sort of style that tugs on hair, like combing and brushing it, can cause breakage. Not to say that you should swear off ponytails forever, but try to avoid wearing a style that’s harsh on your strands multiple days in a row.
Taking out hair extensions isn’t as simple as just pulling them out, since they may have compromised fragile, natural hair while you wore them. “Extensions can be drying to the hair because of the harsh chemicals used to manufacture and color them,” says Prestonia. She recommends deep-conditioning your hair as soon as you remove them. It’ll be worth the extra time in your routine.
The single best thing you can do for natural hair is — you guessed it — conditioning. From conditioning in the shower to regular deep-conditioning treatments, your hair can’t get enough. “Leave-in conditioners are a great way to rehydrate and bring moisture and vibrancy to your hair on a daily basis,” explains Prestonia. “For best results, dampen your hair with water before applying it.” Go for a nourishing, fatty acid-rich formula like SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner, $11.
More than a century after her “secret formula” turned Madam C.J. Walker into a self-made millionaire, her iconic brand of beauty products is back. But this time the hair care line is reaching a broader group of consumers.
From millennials to men, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture has developed an eclectic following since it exploded onto the scene earlier this year.
Sundial Brands, a New York-based company, re-established the brand that now includes gels, oils and cremes, as well as shampoos and conditioners. Sundial CEO Richelieu Dennis teamed up with Sephora to put Walker’s name on store shelves, as well as making the products available online.
Sundial Brands purchased Madam C.J. Walker Enterprises in 2013. Dennis then met with Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, to discuss the direction of the line.
The pair agreed that the products had to honor Walker’s legacy while meeting the needs of consumers.
Their formula is working.
Soon after debuting in March, Harper’s Bazaar called the line’s “curl reviver” one of the best coconut oil hair products on the market. The Los Angeles Times, Allure and Marie Claire also praised the line inspired by Walker’s story.
Walker built her empire by selling hair care products to black women at a time when women of color had few options.
But Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture wants to reach men and women of all backgrounds and hair textures.
“Hair is hair,” said Devon Ginn, an Indianapolis native who works at the Madame Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue. “Your hair can look one way being a man, and another way being a woman. Either way you want it to be tamable and manageable.”
In Indianapolis, beauty blogger Victoria Davis took notice of the line’s potential to desegregate the industry.
“Hair care aisles have been divided between the mainstream brands and ‘ethnic’ brands for so long,” said Davis, who has more than 5,000 followers online. “The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture products, no matter the collection, are made for a diverse audience.”
.The line has collections for different hair textures: tightly coiled, curly, wavy and straight.
Prices range from $14 for coconut oil to $32 for a deep conditioning masque. A bottle of shampoo costs about $24. Dennis expects the product line to grow as more consumers try the products.
Bundles is helping spread the word.
The legacy of her great-great-grandmother’s original product line inspired Bundles to write three books about Walker’s life and how she built an empire.
Walker created marketing schemes, training opportunities and distribution plans that continue to influence hair care companies nationwide.
Sundial is focused on its customers having healthy hair, Bundles said, the same goal Walker had 100 years ago.
Walker’s first products, Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower and shampoo were vegetable-based. The current line is enriched with shea, coconut, Jamaican black castor and murumuru oils.
“She was very clear that her primary goal was to have healthy hair and to grow hair,” Bundles said. “Hair straightening was a part of the overall system if women wanted to straighten their hair.”
Walker opened a laboratory, manufacturing plant and beauty school in Indianapolis.The building, a National Historic Landmark, has since become the Madame Walker Theatre Center.
Employees at the theater, along with Bundles, are determined to keep Walker’s legacy alive by promoting the products to a new generation of consumers.
Bundles thinks European culture has influenced beauty standards for decades.
Skin bleach, chemical straighteners and hair extensions remain on the market, but more products for natural hair are popping up.
Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture is competing against popular brands such as Carol’s Daughter, Miss Jessie’s and Curly Junkie. Mainstream hair care companies such as Clairol and Pantene, for example, now offer options for natural hair, too.
“There is nothing wrong with our hair as it grows out our heads,” Bundles said. “Why is it that we have to make our hair look like someone else’s hair?”
Bundles and Sundial Brands hope the new line of products eases the pressure for men and women to conform to popular beauty standards. Bundle also hopes the spirit of Madam Walker helps young women and girls, in particular, feel good about their hair.
“Inner confidence is what makes us successful,” Bundles said. “What grows from our head is something that we should love. The larger society can love it or not, but it’s not their decision to make.”