You've just gotten a fresh sew-in, but it's been only three days and your itchy scalp is on fire. You could go in with the end of your rattail comb and scratch your life away, but between the cornrows, sewing thread, and net, how in the world are you supposed to access your hair? Let alone scratch, shampoo, or take care of it? Some of us are all too familiar with this scenario, and I think we can all agree that it's the worst.
Enter Dr. Camille H-Verovic: She's the founder of Girl+Hair, and, yes, you read that correctly, she's also a doctor-in-residency taking appointments and saving patients' lives. Camille asked herself this exact question we've all asked at some point while wearing a protective style: how can I effectively take care of my own hair underneath without ruining my hairdo? With a low-viscosity formulation and a handy applicator tip, her line of "under hair care" products are the answer to our scalp's woes. We caught up with Camille to chat about her brand, how she juggles two demanding jobs, and how to stand out in a saturated market.
Real Beautiful: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Camille: It means curiosity and drive. Curiosity in the sense of identifying a problem and trying to fix it, and having the drive to take the steps to solve that problem. Also, fearlessness. It takes courage to go out there and find money, resources, and a team. You’re a team of one when you start out, and you have to make it work.
RB: You've launched a business while working a full-time job which is something a lot of entrepreneurs, especially women, strive to do. Any advice for women wanting to take the plunge?
CHV: The biggest thing for me is having a support system. My partner is my husband. He’s been my right-hand guy the entire time, and he believed in the problem and wanted to help solve it. There are a lot of balls that I drop; I can’t make every single event or do every single thing. But having that drive and partnership with him really helps. My training to become a medical professional supersedes the business in some aspects, because the biggest thing is making sure I’m performing professionally, and making sure my patients are safe. But of course I drop balls. It can be hard to balance everything, but we somehow manage to live in both worlds.
RB: What about women who may not have a partner?
CHV: I know a lot of entrepreneurs, especially women, have to hold a job down while they handle their business. It can be hard, but the biggest thing is to reach out for that support. It can be a husband, or a group of like-minded women who help you. In the beginning before [my husband] got involved, I used the Better Business Bureau as a guide. Find an organization where you have someone professional to bounce ideas off of. I feel like that’s a really crucial step for any entrepreneur—having a support system that’s non-profit who you always bounce ideas off of is so valuable.
RB: Why Girl + Hair? What inspired you to launch the brand?
CHV: I've always loved weave. Natural textures, braids, anything! I love to change my hair very often, but what I found when I wore these kinds of styles was that I couldn’t wash the hair appropriately. It was always a little more tedious and I wondered why I couldn’t wash my hair easily. It annoyed me! That’s the problem I wanted to solve, and that's how it all started.
RB: The beauty and natural hair market is saturated. What makes Girl + Hair stand out in the haircare aisle?
CHV: The utility of our brand is the applicator tip, so people see that and figure it out right away. Our thought process was that we are not only catering to natural hair, but also [improving] the delivery of the product. It wasn’t as simple as putting a shampoo or conditioner in a bottle with an applicator tip--we sat down with a great chemist and really thought about how we could deliver the products to the braids. All of our products are very low viscosity, but highly concentrated meaning they’re very liquid-y (sic), which is a first in the category. They almost feel like water going on the scalp. Same thing with the leave-in conditioner which had to be almost the opposite. It shouldn’t be liquid-y, because if you’re wearing extensions you don’t want them to be greasy. It has to be a very thick-base. All of these things were taken into account when creating the product line. It wasn’t only the applicator tip that was going to make it different. I wanted it to be different in the sense of the best ingredients we could find, but also the delivery of the product. That’s the difference.
RB: What is one thing you wish you knew before starting your company, Girl + Hair?
CHV: I wish I had known about logistics before starting the product line. I didn't realize how many hours you would have to spend just figuring out things. For instance, how are people going to put a credit card number in and how will that result in an invoice, and that invoice results in something else. You [can] have an idea and get the products together, but there’s this whole component of logistics that’s trial-and-error. I wish I knew more about that when I started the brand.
RB: What advice do you have for women who want to start a business, but also keep their main job?
CHV: I think entreprenHER’s have to be very organized, which is a quality that people forget about. You also have to know how to delegate. It’s really important because you can’t be everything to everybody everywhere. It’s also important to not compare yourself to other people. Find something that you’re offering to your clients, stick to it, and be true to that. That really is the essence of your brand. Every component of what people see on social media and in the salon should reflect that.
RB: When it comes to launching a brand, there are a lot of risks and there are a lot of great triumphs. Can you share some rewards and risks you’ve had since launching your business?
CHV: I think the biggest risk for any entrepreneur is losing money. Everyone has to be very calculated with how much money they spend on overhead. For a very long time, I had it in my mind that I wanted a brick-and-mortar store. It was going to be great, and I was going to have a big emporium, but I never really thought of how much overhead that would be for myself. Everything was a big grand idea for me. When I sat back, I thought, well that store has to have rent, and lights, and how much sales would I have to bring in to break even or profit? Minimizing your overhead is one of the most important things and that’s one of the biggest risks. Try not to make money and lose money, then you’re not putting anything in your pocket.
As a triumph, I feel as a brand it's validation when a customer buys a product. We’re really solving problems. I love meeting women who care about the things we care about as a brand. They care about health, they care about the health of their hair, and the health of themselves, and we understand that. We met that with a lot of clients, customers, and stylists, and that makes me feel amazing.
RB: What are the challenges for someone looking to enter a saturated market, like beauty?
CHV: The biggest thing is to completely flush out how different your brand is because [the market] is so oversaturated. Not necessarily in creativity or packaging, but asking yourself, what are you really bringing to the consumer that’s different from anybody else’s brand? The customer is bombarded through print, TV, and social media, so you have to identify the biggest thing. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? It’s an absolute must to be very clear about it in your delivery. Otherwise, you’re going to fall into the background with all the other products.
RB: What’s next for the brand?
CHV: I want to deliver something of purpose but that's also different. One of the things we've been toying around with are reparative, treatment products. There’s really no reparative products designed for while you’re wearing your weave so we’ll see!
RB: Where can people interested in Girl+Hair head to?
CHV: We sell our products online at www.girlandhair.com as well as different retailers around the country. People can always go on our website to find a location near them.
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