An Interview with Tatiana Smith of Hush Hair Co.
Pink Coral Miami is happy to announce its collaboration with Hush Hair Co! We will be working together on our first editorial photo-shoot (Coachella themed!) this week, and we can’t wait to show you the finish photos! We will be posting the photos next week on #TaggedInMiami so make sure to check it out!
We were so excited to work with such an incredible team and woman-empowering company we had to talk with the founder and CEO Tatiana Smith and get to know Hush Hair a little better.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Tatiana Smith. I’m second generation Norwegian and for as long as I can remember always wanted to be in the beauty industry. I remember how happy I was as a child styling my friends and families hair. I went to San Francisco State to study Communicative Disorders in addition to attending Cosmetology school at the Paul Mitchell School. Part of an ongoing negotiation with my dad (laughs).
You know, there was a day that this all became very real for me. I remember my last semester of college, sitting in the library studying with another girl from the same program I became good friends with. We would talk about grad school and what we wanted to do after college. It was then that I noticed a huge difference between her and I. When she would talk about becoming a speech pathologist, she would light up. I liked the idea of it, but I wasn’t passionate about it. Not like she was. When she would ask me about my plans, I would always end up on the topic of hair extensions. I remember sitting in audiology class, designing the packaging for our hair, when she leaned over and said, “I like this one best”. I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that for the last 2 hours of lecture, my focus was elsewhere, and she had been watching me. By the end of the semester, she stopped asking me about my plans as a speech pathologist and started asking me how my extension company was doing and if I needed help shampooing all the samples I was in the process of testing. I knew at that moment that building this company and its movement is what facilitates my unyielding ambition. I had never felt this way my entire life and its literally made me a different person.
What was your inspiration behind Hush Hair Co, and how did you get started?
Our inspiration was the concept of empowerment facilitated through sharing. We defined empowerment as Educational, Financial, and Personal and drove it all through sharing. The sharing could be monetary, it could be information flow or even gesture of support. The universal understanding of what sharing means goes all the way back to all our childhoods. Sharing is giving another person half of what you have as often as you can. The genuineness of such a gesture is lost in business these days. We’re here to reintroduce lost concepts to the markets by empowering our stylist partners.
We really got started once we figured out the model to disrupt the industry. When I first graduated from Paul Mitchell, I worked in a salon in Los Gatos, CA for a few months before quitting to run Hush Hair full time. I quickly realized that stylists were making little to no money on the extensions we purchased from a handful of extension companies, online and at the beauty supply stores. I decided to find a solution to help stylists everywhere. The solution was Hush Hair.
I knew that to build a world class organization, I needed the right sourcing of product and someone to help me build a distribution infrastructure to support the stylist communities. In comes Frank Castle. Frank was an immensely successful regional executive at some of the largest medical device sales organizations. Frank has decades of experience in sales and supporting large divisions of salespeople. I’ve known Frank since I was a child and he’s always been a pillar of integrity both personally and professionally. What was important to Hush Hair is that Frank has a defined sense of what fairness means and given that the Hush Hair model is to empower those less empowered, I knew he was the right partner for me. Furthermore, I knew he was the right person to co-develop our model of sharing with both our customers and our sales associates. What I didn’t know about Frank was that he was a partner in a Global Trade and Development corporation out of Hong Kong named Variance. Frank has a childhood lineage to the two founders of Variance. In late 2015, in Latin America, Variance came across the immense profitability behind the global hair extension business realizing, as I had, that stylists and salons alike were both paying retail to a handful of extensions companies and beauty supply stores that were reaping aggressive profits. Variance then entered discussions with Frank on the business and as fate has it, I engaged Frank with Hush Hair. The rest is history.
As a hair extension lover, I know it is hard to find good quality extensions like yours, what makes your hair extensions unique?
I appreciate that Jessica. The hair extension industry, namely the manufacturers in China that control 90% of the market have been lying to consumers since the beginning by creating grading systems and claiming hair is Peruvian, Brazilian, Malaysian and other exotic sources to entice sales. This isn’t to say that no hair comes from those locations but very little do. The vast majority of hair (90%) comes from religious temples in India and is processed in China. There are only a handful of legitimate sources of hair in China itself. Legitimate being defined by publicly traded and governed by shareholders just like a public company here in the US. This provides a little bit more integrity to everything. We work with the largest listed (public) supplier of human wigs to the world and our hair supply comes from them. Later this year we’ll be rolling out Hush Hair True Remy that’s going to reset consumer opinion on whatever product they’re currently using including ours. Stay tuned. All these gimmicky brands are pushing hair that wholesales in China for $40 on 18” for $200+ with utter disregard for stylists and their livelihoods. They’re not cutting people in. We are. We’re here to reset the game. We believe people will gravitate towards universal forces like the empowerment of women and sharing and that truth will sell itself. We’re about putting out the best products and sharing. The community’s support for us has been so well received and our Indie movement perpetuates. We’re by the stylist for the stylist.
I know your company is all about empowering women and helping women entrepreneurs in the beauty industry. Why is this important to you and Hush Hair and how exactly does your company do that?
To answer this, there has to be transparency and everything with us starts with our own fundamental structure. We can’t make the impact we want if we ourselves aren’t aligned by both movement and financial incentive. We’re founded at this stage by 13 people and will be increasing our partnership pool to 50 when all is said and done. 50 partners that see eye to eye on what we’re building together. We’re not 3 people that own 90 percent of a company. That’s our competitors. Some of them are PE-backed. We’ll be 50 partners with shares. Proper sharing had to begin with us first and foremost. In the community, we want to be defined as an Indie brand wielding the movement of empowerment. To the capital markets, we want to be defined as a Business Intelligence company with systems powered by data-driven Predictive Analytics.
Empowering women and helping women entrepreneurs is important to us on a number of fronts. As I said earlier, Frank Castle and I started this company from the perspective of unfairness. We had to source superior product at legitimate prices to make our model work and bring on partners from the stylist community that felt as passionate as we do about working together to unionize the community. We’re strong proponents that empowerment starts with finances and that the largest impact initially is created by financially empowering our customers through profit sharing. This gives some breathing room and optionality for women to focus on other aspects of their lives they wish to further like education or sound financial investment.
We at Hush Hair believe in supporting women’s rights. From equal pay in emerging markets to reducing domestic violence, to the challenges of single-mothers and we stand up for women globally as partner and friend. We believe in developing countries such as those in Africa, The Caribbean and Latin America our model will allow women to have a greater voice in their households. Hush Hair will be setting up its own charitable foundation in the near future rather than just contributing a percentage of sales. We’ve begun the diligence process on this. Being backed by a holding company whose primary businesses are running Venture Capital and Crypto funds have empowered us to personally invest in cutting edge alternative instruments typically reserved for a small community of people in finance in Silicon Valley. Our movement of empowerment will move from education on hair extension installation to education on investments and we’ll provide our customers in the community access to the same advantageous investment opportunities we have. To us, education, empowerment and sharing all go hand in hand and it doesn’t stop with selling hair.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs who have dreams of starting their own business but aren’t sure on where to begin?
Remember that we all start somewhere. There is no easy way to reach to achieve your dream of entrepreneurship. It takes hard work and dedication –many days I feel like I’m racing the clock. However, my desire to learn, build and impact lives completely outweigh my fears of failure. Challenge yourself. Wake up with a purpose. Write down your goals –big or small. Don’t take things personally. Every “no” brings you one step closer to your next “yes”. Too many people don’t take advantage of opportunities because they think timing is poor, or they overthink it. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and go for it.
If you only had a few minutes to give someone your best piece of business advice, what would it be?
Find a meaningful problem that you’re passionate about and work to solve it in steps. Protecting the math or odds of your ambition’s success is key. Ambition is highly sensitive and needs to be trusted and developed. Ambition isn’t the same as drive. It’s your deepest hopes and dreams. It’s equally important to remember that its ok to ask for help. The idea that asking for help as a weakness is ridiculous. We all need help and the word help itself is universally powerful.
If you inspired someone reading our interview today, what is the best way for them to start working with Hush Hair Co?
This position we’re hiring for is one to engage, establish and develop strong business relationships with stylists. To empower stylists and support a culture of trust and integrity. We are constantly looking to expand our team. The best way to contact us regarding a career with Hush Hair is to email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much Jessica. We’re very much looking forward to our continued relationship and can’t thank you enough for allowing us to share our story.
Make sure to follow Hush Hair Co Instagram: @hushhairco
Models: @nikkiealexandra + @jessburns16
Hair: @hushhairco Styled by: @style_by_blondis
Make up: @lamarieantoinette_
Purses + Accessories: @bungalow_drift