Have you ever dreamed of owning your own brand of hair extensions? The idea that you can source amazing raw materials from another country seems as easy as using Alibaba right?!
After traveling to various cities in China and visiting several factories. It became apparent that the hair extension business is one big grey area.
While overseas, our limitations to social media and blogging were unexpected. An eye-opening experience in regards to what these factories thought I knew about hair! When I would mention the importance of quality and how the cuticle must be in the same direction, most seemed alarmed. As my translator said, "they are surprised you know!".
Our days were filled with factory tours, meetings, and eccentric lunches. Two translators, 5 factories and in the end I had a suitcase full of samples that I was so excited to try. I could feel the excitement of my own brand and it felt ah-mazing!
At the end of the trip, I can honestly say that I have made some serious memories, and have powerful thoughts about importing raw materials from overseas. A global industry, and it requires more than one country (in this case) to create the brand I always dreamed of having. The hair I was using was Indian, and once collected and sanitized, it shipped to China. And in China, they would process the hair and follow the guidelines set by myself. What I didn't realize is that India and China have a different working relationship and solidifying these relationships with trust and quality control was almost impossible.
I found it challenging to have free time since once the news was out that I was in town, third party representatives were waiting for me in the lobby of my hotel. Some of them I had no idea how they knew I was there?! Bombarded with business cards and promises. I was also receiving updates via Google that the Studio She name was being stolen and registered in China under more than 100 domains. I couldn't prevent this as I only own the Trade Mark in Canada and the US.
I learned about being a female business owner and what that means in a communist country such as China. Often the main boss of the factory wouldn't make eye contact with me as he would only speak to my translator and barely looked me in the eyes. I didn't want to do business with only the representative of the factory; it was important that I met him. I find it off-putting but also more so because the wealthiest person in China is a female!
It was essential to make sure that while visiting these factories that fair trade was in practice. What I saw was positive and in a sense emotional for me. Watching the artistry that takes place is fascinating and close to my heart.
UPDATE: After six months I finally decided to invest $30,000 in my first wholesale order of hair extensions. First I created my color ring which carried ten base colors. Followed by I-tip, Tape, Fusion and Machine Weft. All of which pre-sold to stylists who have attended the two-day Mastery Extension Class.
Once the product arrived we packaged and shipped, only to receive messages that the quality of hair wasn't Remy and it quickly knotted and tangled. I trusted the wrong factory and in a sense the wrong person who decided that selling me sh*t quality was going to be ok! My heart broke, and for weeks I lived in a cloud. My savings was done, and all I could do was offer refunds, accept the hair back and decide that for now I was done searching.
This is just one reason that I prefer to work with select vendors! It took me years and tens of thousands of dollars to find the hair extension companies that continue to keep up with research and development and quality control. I am running a business and my days are full of guests that need my guarantee that not only will I provide an excellent service I will promise great extensions.
What did I do with $30k in hair extensions that I can't use on my clients or sell to licensed Cosmetologists? Well what I didn't do was receive a refund or any sort of credit from the factory. It sat in my basement for several years until I made friends with the boxes again.
I decided to use it during our 2 Day Mastery Class. If you can believe it I have a long time client who requests the tape extensions from this batch. She loves the density and the strength of the pieces. Even while writing this there is two saved packs of tape extensions with her name on it. She's tried others and prefers my so called brand. Who can understand it?! :) .
If you have any stories like this, I would love to hear from you! I know there are a handful of stylists who dream of owning your brand. In no way am I discouraging you, we touch on that during the Mastery Class. More so I am just saying...there are so many great companies out there that can give you what you need without added stress while you are getting busy behind the chair and being awesome! I like to work smarter not harder.
Oh and if you're still reading, you're a rockstar! :)