A few years ago, I decided to join the natural hair clan because I wanted to start rocking my natural curls and needed a healthier option for my hair. Fast-forward to today, I have wrestled with my natural hair so much that I normally give in and just straighten my hair because honestly it’s easier for me to manage my straight hair and not my curls.
Too often, naturalistas like you and I struggle with our natural hair. We are clueless when it comes to products, self-styling, and maintaining healthy, natural hair. Thanks to Nicole Ben and her company NeoTress, being natural is easier.
NeoTress, is a beauty box subscription service that offers naturalistas 4 to 6 products and a step-by-step guide that can be used for hair care and self-styling. We recently connected wit the founder, Nicole, and she shared how she took what was once an idea in her mind to a real business.
Start with sharing a little about your career journey for those who aren’t familiar with your story.
– I studied interior design at Syracuse University and design management in grad school at Savannah College of Art and Design. My design career has been focused on business development and sales for product manufacturers in the interior design industry. I’ve worked with brands like Zara, Michael Kors, COS, and Rolex on designing lighting and displays for their stores. My true passion is merging design thinking with entrepreneurship, which I do for my own company and also by creating online and in-person workshops for other entrepreneurs through nicolelashae.com.
What inspired you to start your business?
– I’ve always been known for changing up my hairstyles often. The process of researching hair styles, products, and tutorials was taking up too much time. I saw an opportunity in the market to make the self-styling hair experience better, shorter, and easier, so I jumped on it to create NeoTress. Starting my business was also an opportunity for me to put all of my skills and passions to work, rather than staying in the boundaries of what my 9 to 5 requires.
What is the hardest thing you have learned about starting a business?
– The hardest thing about starting a business is getting familiar with the legalities. You have to make sure you read up on everything about how you choose to form your business (i.e. LLC, Corporation, etc.). You also need to be sure that you have the proper licenses and permits to run a business. Creating and refining the idea is the fun part. But, you want to make sure that your full fledged idea goes out into the world without risk of somehow being penalized by the government.
What has been the highlight of your life as an entrepreneur?
– The best highlight will always be my first sale. I had a landing page up for my business for about a year and half. The landing page was simply there to capture information of people who may be interested in purchasing my, then, hypothetical subscription box. But, when I launched my website and got my first sale on neotress.com within minutes of launching, I felt so accomplished that some stranger in the world paid for what I had to offer. And, I’m also thankful that wasn’t my last sale.
Best career advice in 6 words or less?
– Keep pushing to follow your dreams.
Top 3 items you cannot live without?
– Neo-Soul Music, My iPhone, and My D-SLR
If you work full-time, how do you balance your FT job with your business?
– I maximize any down-time that I have. In the mornings, I might be running errands for my business before I head to the office. During my lunch break, I head to Dunkin’ Donuts to get in sales calls with potential partner brands. After work, I accomplish my to-do list or attend networking events to get my business out there. I answer e-mails while walking down the street or on the subway. Between work and running my business, I usually work 10-12 hour days Monday through Friday, then at least 6 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, I don’t always plan to work like this, but I’m committed to working hard in order for my brand to stand up against my competitors and be able to someday only work for myself.
What’s next for you and your business?
– My goal for 2017 is to be a full-time entrepreneur by the end of the year. For NeoTress, I want to expand my product offers and have the ability to ship internationally in order to reach untapped markets.
– I’m reading new articles these days. I’m trying to stay current on the changes in politics and how those changes will affect this country and the world.
What is one fun fact about you that others may not know?
– My new hobby is taking improvisational acting classes.
Where can we find you and NeoTress online?
– My Company, NeoTress
– My Personal Brand, Nicole Lashae Ben