Setting up an online shop can be a quick, easy and low cost way to start a hair product business and if successful, a wonderful way to supplement income. Long gone are the days when small business owners had to print out flyers and/or pay print advertisers to promote their business they now can promote themselves via the Internet.
“Madam Walker once said, ‘Having a good article for the market is one thing, and putting it properly before the public is another.’ In other words, having a great product is only half the battle. You have to promote it,” stated A’Lelia Bundles – Madam C. J. Walker’s biographer and great-great-granddaughter.
She said that Madam Walker herself would have absolutely used the Internet (if available in her day) to sell and promote her products. “It’s challenging to get wide distribution from an Internet-only presence, but savvy marketers who know how to use social media, as well as traditional mainstream media and cosmetics industry events no longer have to depend on large firms to enter the market,” she added.
Sisters Monica Richards and Leigh Richards, creators of Knaps products launched their home-based business on the Web. The high prices of other products on the market inspired them to make their own. “I shared Lil Better Butter that I made for myself with friends and family and they said it was good enough to sell,” Monica explained.
Lil Better Butter, is a creamy, whipped shea and oil mixture great for moisturizing and styling all types of hair, and a little truly goes a long way. Knaps products also include T-shirts, mugs, key chains, and coming soon Shealoe and Honey-Mango Pomade.
Sunshine Abuwi, of Peace, Love & Sunshine Natural products, was inspired to start making/selling her own products when she went natural. Like the Knaps creators, she started off by using the products on herself, then she began telling others through her blogs and Internet based social networks. “The support I have gotten from the online community has been wonderful. The Internet has offered me a great way to get my products out there and my voice heard,” she said.
Sunshine’s most popular product, is Coconut Confidence Hair and Body Butter. This is an all natural butter, “that will leave your hair and skin in coconut heaven,” she adds. She also offers a scented, whipped alternative to pure Shea Butter, known as Sunshine. The Peace, Love & Sunshine Natural product line is growing, future products will include hair spritzer(s), facial tonics, a stretch mark remover system, body polisher and much more.
“I hope people will remember that Madam Walker’s business success is only part of her legacy. That she became a millionaire is, of course, noteworthy, but that she used her wealth and influence as a philanthropist, political activist and advocate for women’s economic independence really is what makes her worth remembering,” A’Lelia Bundles stated.
Knaps’ goal is to give back through education. “I want girls and women to be able to make a real choice about their hair. In order to make a choice one has to be armed with accurate information. We plan to provide information to women of color,” Monica added. Knaps also has a fantastic blog and YouTube channel, where they give back to the natural hair community, through tutorials, product reviews, and giveaways.
Sunshine stated that giving back to her community is very important. “In the beginning phases of my business, and when I was getting the concept together, I would allow the neighborhood girls to come over and I would share with them my plans and get their feedback. This was important, because I wanted to offer them a different image of a young black woman to counter the many negative images they see of themselves in music and sometimes in media.
As Peace, Love and Sunshine Products continues to grow, I plan to use teen and pre-teen aged, female volunteers as helpers. It will be my way of mentoring them and instilling in them the belief that they too have the talents and ability to do whatever they want in their lives including being business women and entrepreneurs,” she added.
“I’d also add that this is a very competitive business with thousands of products on the market. What is hot today won’t be hot tomorrow. I believe Madam Walker would have adapted with the times and likely would have been a leader in natural hair care.
Even then, her focus was on healthy hair and healing the scalp disease that was so rampant at the time …. I know many people still associate her primarily with hair straightening, but if they really examine the record – looking at her original ads, her letters, the products she and the Walker Company actually sold before her death in 1919 – I believe their interpretation would be different,” A’Lelia Bundles stated.
“Right here let me correct the erroneous impression held by some that I claim to straighten hair,” she told the Indianapolis Recorder. “I deplore such impression because I have always held myself out as a hair culturist. I grow hair.” – Madam CJ Walker from On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J.Walker.