24 Nov How I founded an 8 figure brand with only $1000
This is how I started my 8 figure brand Glam Seamless at the age of 23 with only $1000. Nope, I was not as lucky as Ali Webb who got $250,000 from her brother to start DryBar or Toni Ko who founded NYX Cosmetics with $250k from her family as well, I actually came from a poor family and single mother home. Here’s how grit and the internet made it possible:
7 years ago in the Fall of 2012 I started my business Glam Seamless (which was acquired in February 2019) with $1000- I started it all by myself in my small 2BR apartment, with zero experience, and no parents or family to help me or fund my business. Truthfully, at the time I did not know it was going to be a business, and I had zero vision or plan. I started Glam Seamless to make money, more so as a side hustle in between my reality TV shows and working as a plus size model. When starting out the the entertainment industry the gigs are unstable and you also cannot commit to a “real” job because the castings and bookings are very sporadic and at any time you can be booked for a big gig that pays thousands for the day. So I was looking for my next internet side hustle. When it comes to hustle, I am no stranger to the side hustle! I watched my mom from an early age balance 2-3 jobs as a single mother. Pretty much all of my childhood my mom had at least a second job. Always working weekends. Then in high school, she got smarter with it, using the internet to make money in her sleep. I know now that this inspired me subconsciously. She never settled, she always was looking for work outside of her regular job. Prior to 2012 before starting Glam, I too joined her in some affiliate ventures selling books online, I even started selling “How to get on reality TV show” personal coaching! I mean, after 8 reality TV shows, I knew what it took – and I would network on Facebook groups and Linked getting people to pay me to help them get on reality shows. But these things did not bring in a lot of money, and they were not sustainable nor did I enjoy them. So I did not give it my all. I worked my regular job – kept going on whatever show or gigs I could – and I kept my eye out for the next big thing. Well, little did I know my next “Side hustle” would turn in to an eight figure per year brand.
So how and why did I start Glam Seamless? Let me preface this by saying – looking back I was subconsciously influenced my people and ideas around me. I started Glam before “Girl Boss” was even a thing. I watched Shark Tank and The Profit every week – for 2 years. I saw other friends that wanted to be business owners that were 20 years old, I saw my eyelash lady Clementina of Envious Lashes running a very successful business. Looking back – these things made it possible that owning a business was 100% a reality for anyone who wanted to do it. I also was the type of person that did not “fit it” or “Follow rules” so getting a real job just did not work for me – I had to start a business if modeling/reality TV did not work out – I knew I would NEVER be able to comprise my personality to work for someone else. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with working for someone else, in fact, NOT everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur that is 100% for sure, I even watched one of meh friends fail BIG time even though she had a great product. But I knew this was the path I had to take and I had to try something – even if a side hustle – because my future was looking unpromising if I didnt.
Ok: Back to how I started Glam: It’s September 2012
Some how, through the universe I saw the lovely Mimi Ikonn doing hair tutorials and selling clip ins for her brand Luxy Hair. This was in the back of my mind – but I did not give it much thought. It was around the time that I was looking to start a lucrative internet hustle. I was debating between doing eyelashes and teaching a course online (Which I am bad with my hands – why did I think this was a good idea?), I thought about selling makeup sample subscription kit (thank god I did not – BirchBox had so much funding after 2012 and killed it), and I thought about selling extensions (I have worn them since middle school – not a hair stylist -but a true wearer of them). I did a lot of research and allowed the universe to give me the answer. One day I went to a hair salon down the street, one I never went to, and the owner was talking about “Tape extensions” something I never heard of! After seeing the Luxy Hair, I knew that I could not sell clip ins or I would fail as too many brands existed selling clip ins online— I had to start with a product no one else was selling online. See, when it comes to making decisions, I am an over thinker, but I went with what I knew and loved most, what I PASSIONATE about (looking good/hair extensions), and what the universe presented to me my next business – which was selling tape extensions – a certain type of extension that was not sold online at the time – and was truly meant for salon professionals – to install at the salon (I thought it was a DIY product oops). My ignorance for how this product truly worked lead me to my greatest success and allowed me to disrupt the market. When it comes to being successful in business it’s part timing, part luck, and 100% hustle and marketing.
So I start a Wix Website (which they are horrible don’t use them) because I chose the product I was confident in selling— made up a name (Glam Seamless) with little thought – because again – this is my side hustle – and I went to Alibaba to start buying hair from 15 suppliers. After wearing hair for 15 years, I knew how to make it better, I knew good quality, and I worked directly with the factories myself to crate a product I wanted to see. Now, I only had $1500 – I used $250 of it for a website, $250 for packaging and $1000 for hair. I bought one dark and one light color – slapped crappy packaging on it – and put the website up. This is where my love and expertise wearing extensions came in to play. I assessed other hair on the market, and I starting selling something that was better in terms of quality and value and that was easier to purchase. Other “tape extensions” were only sold through the distributors on the phone – and the sales reps of the brands selling the tape extensions would take days to get back to even place an order. But Glam Seamless tape ins, would be sold online, at a fair price, shipping same day, to all! Here I was, with packs of hair on the floor, putting them in the packaging myself because at the time I could not afford to have packaging at the time!
Build it and they will come? No – they won’t. I knew I had to put in the work and keep trying new things, after building my website, I knew the platform I was using and the website was bad, so I had to start over and do it again! I believe this too was a key difference in being successful -never settling, always looking to improve your products or services – this is the main responsibility of a business owner. Shortly after the website was rebuilt, I started writing blogs on the website for “hair extensions for thin hair” because that is what I had knowledge in. I started making videos about tape extensions, extensions for thin hair. I even made a “Glam Seamless Reviews” video as if it wasn’t my company because it was my side hustle and I did not expect it to be a big business. I know – how pathetic – but when you are bootstrapping a business you have to do whatever if takes – as long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt others – do it! Hey – even Sara Blakely founders of Spanx pretended her friends were her employees in the early days when Oprah came to visit her “Fake office with her fake employees”. Do what you have to do. I did not know what SEO was when I started the business, but day after day I would research articles on how to grow an internet business – and writing blogs would come up. Turns out, the blogs I wrote helped me with SEO -Which basically got my business to rank first on google for keywords for “hair extensions for thin hair” and “Tape extensions” – this is what helped me get successful because I did not have money for ads, and because no one was selling tape extensions online, there were no ads, and there were no competitors, I started to rank first for these terms hair extension wearers were searching answers for – and I had the answers and the solutions for them! It was the right product at the right time – one that I was passionate and knowledgable about. See you can’t sell BS or SCAM people – selling something you don’t care about, and trust me, people can see right through it and it’s not scalable, you will NEVER succeed doing this. Also, the road to being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 one – especially if you are talking a 7 or 8 figure brand. You have to be 100% OBSESSED with what you’re selling – or else you won’t want to keep going with it. For me – I wore extensions all the time – and knew so much about it – and LOVED the product (Still do). If I would have chosen another beauty category or even sold clip ins – I would have failed. If I would have started the business later, I would not have become an 8 figure per year brand, because now there are tons of competitors, taking up a huge market share with deep pockets to run ads and push the little guys down. We have even seen hair extension brands come in with big dollars and still not do that great – because there are strong established brands – and now would be the worse time to get in to the extension market as there are a ton of them out there. It’s about timing, its abbot passion, it’s about marketing and having the best product – and there are ALWAYS ways to improve. In fact, that is your job as an entrepreneur, seek to improve both your product and business every single day! NEVER SETTLE. Always do it better, or someone else will, and they will take the business from you.
Here I was in 2015 running the company from home, printing labels before I could afford to have a warehouse! If you are going to start your own company, be prepared to do it all, 24/7! You have to have a ton of self motivation and love the product/service or you probably won’t scale.
Long story short, I chose a product I loved, sold a product online no one else was selling, and got lucky with ranking #1 on google from my blogs due to SEO. Now, within 2 years of starting the brand I was selling over 1 million dollars a year from home! I ran it in my home for 3 years, with 3 people, until after I had my baby! I even double the business in sales revenue year after year even after having a baby, and running it from home. 7 years in, and 9 months after my company (and Luxy hair at the same time too!) was acquired, I have begun to reflect on not just the timing but certain characteristics I have that helped me become a successful entrepreneur. Over the years, I started to realize why a lot of small business owners either fail or don’t scale – and as hard as I have wanted to step in and tell them what to fix – I have made mental notes for those that actually care in going the extra mile as business owner.
If you want to start a business or become an entrepreneur, just know it’s 1000% yes 1000% hard work! You work harder as an entrepreneur than you do as an employee. It’s a 24/7 job – unless you plan on being a lifestyle entrepreneur who doesn’t want to take home the biggest financial reward (more on that later – subscribe below to learn my secrets). If you choose take the wonderful journey of owning your own business, choose something you LOVE, something you can talk about and improve day in and day out, and do whatever it takes to be the BEST out there.