Founder, ESPY Hair
Shira Jacobs is the Founder and CEO of luxury hair brand ESPY Hair.
Based in Beverly Hills, ESPY Hair has developed a cult following among Hollywood stylists and celebrities. Recent clients include Gabrielle Union, Ciara, Toni Braxton, Brandy, Joy Bryant and Lady Gaga.
Founded in 2003, ESPY Hair provides quality human hair for weaves and extensions. The company also specialises in custom wigs, hairpieces and hair replacement systems for women.
What made you decide to start your company?
Back in 2003 I felt there was a need to create a unique environment for women of colour to shop for hair. More often than not, the hair industry caters to the mainstream market and the hair available to Black women is inferior. I wanted to provide a quality product and personal, caring service to others like me.
What was your professional background prior to starting your business?
I worked in marketing communications for a number of years. I was formerly a Communications Manager for Interbath, a mid-sized manufacturer of tubs and shower systems for upscale spas and hotels.
Prior to that, I was an Account Executive for Lagrant Communications, a Black-owned and operated integrated marketing firm which specializes in adapting mainstream campaigns to fit African American and Hispanic markets.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
There’s greater flexibility with my time compared to being an employee. Running my own company has also proven to be financially rewarding.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Having to be responsible for EVERYTHING is definitely the hardest part. You do not get time to focus on a singular aspect of the business. Instead you must have a hand in all areas, especially in the beginning, such as market research, production, customer service, marketing/PR, website, accounting, legal and most importantly SALES (because no one will be able to sell your product/service like you).
What has been your biggest triumph to date?
Continuing to profit in a lean economy. Watching other businesses, including many competitors, go out of business is very scary but also confirms that our brand is valuable to consumers.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own beauty brand?
My advice would be to begin with the end in mind. Try to figure out exactly where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years so you will set the right systems in place at the outset.
Also, look for manufacturers in China to keep costs down and get things produced quickly. Finally, try to borrow as little money as possible so you won’t stress too much if you run into trouble. For example, don’t max out your budget on fancy letterhead or packaging in the beginning.
For more information on ESPY Hair visit www.espyhair.com
Shira Jacobs was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club