Hi, Dames! This week’s Friday Feature is the creator and founder of Hair Lingerie and Charmsies: Kiara Bailey! Hair Lingerie is a high-end professional line of hair extensions known as the best in the market. She has equipped celebrity extensionists all over the country with these luscious locks that have been known to grace the heads of the Kardashians, Chrissy Tiegen, and Christina Aguilera, to name a few.
Charmsies are the coolest most innovative hair accessory to hit the market in decades. They are little pieces of sparkle meant to dazzle up any hairstyle with the simple press of a flat iron. They are perfect for festival season, special occasions, or just to feel extra sparkly on any given day. They have been seen all over red carpets, on influencers at Coachella, and at weddings.
We had the opportunity to hang out with Kiara and ask her some questions about having ideas and turning them into businesses. Check out our interview below.
How long have you been doing hair?
My first memory of doing hair was sitting on the back of the sofa at 6 years old with my box of plastic barrettes. There must’ve been 20 or 30 flowers, bunnies and bows. I would sit for what seemed like hours putting each barrette in my dad’s long permed hair and was obsessed with getting every single barrette in his hair. He looked ridiculous, but I’ve seen this redone on Instagram so I was way ahead of my time. I never really gave hair much thought (even though I spent every day after school and weekends as the receptionist at my mom’s salon) until my senior year of high school. There was an opportunity to go to Beauty School paid for, so my mom signed me up. I really had no say in it because we couldn’t afford college so she thought I could at least work my way through college doing hair. I hated Beauty School and vowed that I was going to get a “real” job. My first day assisting my mom in the salon was amazing and I’ve been a workaholic ever since.
How did you decide to start your own hair extensions line?
I think deciding to start a company was the easy part and something that few of us give much actual thought to. It’s all the stuff before and after that make the story great. I got a bad haircut after moving to LA in ’99 and got individual fusion extensions to have “long, luscious locks”. The hair tangled so badly with my hair that every one of those 300 bond got pulled out from the root. I was so freaked out that extensions could cause someone to have hundreds of bald spots on their hair and became obsessed with doing it better. You see, the feeling it gave me, how it fixed my perceived defect, how it gave me the instant gratification of changing my look wasn’t flawed; the product that was used was flawed, the technique was flawed. I became determined to find a way to get the good feelings without any of the negative side effects and in order to do that I found out I had to make it myself.
What was the biggest obstacle in your building process?
There were thousands! Literally thousands of obstacles! People don’t see all the nights you are up until 4 or 5 am on conference calls with China, or the stress of being out of stock of a product for a very important client and the toll that takes on you. I think the biggest obstacle I had and so many business owners can relate to is that I didn’t know how to do everything I needed to do when I started, so I spent a bunch of money having people do it for me, which meant my investment became much bigger than I thought it was going to be. My original business model is almost nothing like my current one and that [transition] cost more money [in order to] switch brands, logos, websites, products, marketing, you name it. That was hard to stomach, but luckily I had some great mentors and made sure that I learned each thing that I hired someone to do, so now I can do it for myself. I can add Photoshop, iMovie, Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Prezi, Quickbooks, corporate structure, bookkeeping, tax preparation, contract reading and negotiations and a bunch more stuff to my resume now.
How can one get Hair Lingerie? Is it for professionals only?
Hair Lingerie is available in the top salons in the world. We currently have around 40 Specialists throughout the world and plan to expand to 60 by the end of the year. It is a professional product that you would need to go to a salon to have applied and removed and since it is the highest-end brand of hair extensions and virtually undetectable to anyone, the quality of our Specialists work is second to none. You would never know that half of the celebs in Hollywood are wearing HL because as we like to say “We Never Kiss and Tell”. Most of our clients are really private and we only post something when the person has given permission. You can find a HL Specialist or apply to be one on our website www.HairLingerie.com
How did you come up with Charmsies?
I was on a trip in 2012, buying hair from the temples in India and then to China to take it to my factory and walked into this store in Guangzhou and saw all these hearts and stars and puppy dog charms in bags covering every inch of wall space. They were nail charms and I thought how cool it would be if you could put these in your hair. I became obsessed and nine months later I was at a trade show rolling it out. It was truly a whirlwind!
Who was Charmsies designed for?
A Charmsies girl wants to add something extra to her style. Up until now you could only put a rhinestone or stud barrette in your hair or a hair tie or headband with something on it, but now you can put rhinestones all over your hair like in Cinderella or accent your braid just like stars like Bella Thorne did. Creativity is endless and Charmsies is for the girl that needs to be creative with her style, who wants to be seen and recognized.
Was your building process different from Charmsies to Hair Lingerie?
Of course! There were so many differences in where I was and who I was with each brand. I was a full time hairdresser with a tiny baby and knew nothing about running a company when I started Hair Lingerie and already had the infrastructure, knowledge and experience when I started Charmsies. This is why it took 8 years to get HL up and running and 9 months for Charmsies. Another difference is that HL is in the luxury market with a super small ideal customer only looking for hair, and Charmsies is inexpensive, mass and we’ve sold everywhere including gift, toy, fashion and hair markets. They literally are on the opposite end of the beauty spectrum and was a great learning lesson about who I am and what markets I inherently understand and which ones I needed to have other people step in and be the voice for.
Where can you purchase Charmsies?
Stores carry select styles but you can get all 40 styles on our website plus free shipping! www.HairCharmsies.com
What is your advice for people that have an idea about a product?
Ah… advice! Everyone has some, right? Mine is simple, don’t get so caught up in the idea of the mythical business plan. It has to prove itself before you can make it a plan. Feel comfortable changing it every year or month or week. If you hit a road block with product development, sales, or fulfillment or any of it, DO NOT RESIST! The hiccup is there to make you rethink your strategy. If no one is “getting” your product then it’s either too complicated or you aren’t explaining it simply enough. If you aren’t making money right away then it’s not going to make money, and you have to rethink your costing and pricing and expenses. Get really comfortable at being wrong and quickly making adjustments to your course. And whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE UP, UNTIL IT IS TIME TO GIVE UP! Sometimes knowing when to quit is more important than everything else.
Do you still do hair in a salon?
I now play at doing hair. I always wanted to move on from “being a hairstylist” and thought CEO seemed like a much better title, but after working in an office at a desk, quietly behind a computer for a couple of years, I became super depressed. I realized that it was because my whole life has been lived in a salon; it’s the only job I’ve ever really had and is a part of my being. It makes me happy to chat with people and teach those around me what I’ve learned and to be active and never sit down, even when eating lunch. So even though I only take clients a couple of days a month, I am always in someone’s salon, and work every day with either hairstylists, entrepreneurs or professionals on business and life strategy. I just helped my good friend and hair colorist extraordinaire, Kazumi Morton, launch Salon Kazumi in Beverly Hills and realized it was the missing link between all the work people are doing and truly feeling successful, and we aren’t taught any of this as stylists so it’s really needed in our industry! My mission is to make sure everyone has the tools the need to be happy and successful.
What do you want people to know about you and your products that we may have not discussed?
If you have any interest in group or personal mentoring please contact me via email Info@HairLingerie.com and put Business & Life Strategy in the subject line. **
A big thank you to Kiara for taking time to answer these questions. Hope you loved this interview as much as we did, Dames. Let us know if you have any questions or comments below.