Partners see good hair days ahead
Go anywhere in Barbados and you will realize that Bajan women love hair extensions.
And while salons and hair supply stores are the obvious beneficiaries of the high and increasing demand for flowing hair, two young people have found another way to capitalize on the trend.
Twenty-one-year-old Torian Holder and Jenai Babb, 20, are the owners of Fabulous Xtensions, which is possibly the only locally branded weave.
While the hair is imported from China like most other international brands, it is packaged locally, with Barbadian-designed graphics and Barbadian models.
When Torian realized just how much some women spend on weave monthly, he came to the conclusion that “the hair business had in money”.
As a man, he didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the different textures, lengths and styling options. But given her love for weave, he sought out Jenai’s help in understanding the trend.
“Then one day I brought the idea to her about starting our own Bajan hair brand and she shut it down. She said it couldn’t work,” he told the SUNDAY SUN.
Jenai’s argument was that local hairdressers were loyal to particular brands because they were certain of the quality. But Torian, who was aware that Government was pushing entrepreneurship in Barbados, believed that “anything is possible once you market your brand well”.
They agreed to start the business last June. Both had on-and-off jobs and they saved their money. By November they were able to launch their brand entirely out of their pockets.
“It was hard financially. There was a lot of cutting back, a lot of sacrifices,” the former student of St Leonard’s Boys’ School said.
He noted that it was the lack of consistent income that fuelled his desire to start the business. While he currently has a temporary job, Jenai works full-time with Fabulous Xtensions.
“It is difficult at times. [There are] long hours and your brain always has to be ticking, ticking, ticking. You have to be thinking of new ideas,” she said.
The young business partners rely heavily on word of mouth and social media to market their products and Torian noted that engaging current and potential customers on Facebook and Twitter required much thought and effort.
Another challenge is interacting with suppliers in China, given the time difference.
“When they are up, it is night here so we have to be up late at night to see when they are online to talk to them and let them know what we want,” said Jenai, a former student of Alexandra School.
The young entrepreneurs have roped in their family and friends “who are just a phone call away” to assist with many aspects of the business, from trying out hair pieces before they offer them for sale to designing the packages.
One product which Jenai sought to test on her relatives first was the clip-in hair extensions that allow women to add length or volume without going to a hairdresser.
“I introduced clip-ins to them first because I like to try the hair from the company before I go and sell it. I want to make sure it is good quality,” she explained, adding that not many Barbadians knew about the clip-in option.”
The challenges have been many but Torian and Jenai say they are pleased with Barbadians’ response to their business.
“When we look at the customers and see that they’re happy, it makes us happy,” the couple said. They are also happy about successfully launching their business.
“It is really great to know you have something out there that is yours and you worked hard to get it where it is right now,” Jenai said.
• Positive Youth is a series highlighting the efforts of youth in our nation who are engaging in positive pursuits.
If you know of any such people, please contact Natasha Beckles at 430-5459 or [email protected]; or Bryan Walker at 430-5492 or [email protected]