Ariaka Autry, Virgin Hair Depot’s CEO, gives millennials insightful tips on ownership

Virgin Hair Depot 5
Photo courtesy: Ariaka Autry, CEO, Virgin Hair Depot

Ariaka Autry
CEO (Chief Experience Officer), Virgin Hair Depot 
Twitter & IG: @AriakaAutry

A self-described point guard, Ariaka Autry, Virgin Hair Depot’s chief experience officer, shares some fast facts about ownership and the Black community.

“I make sure the entire team is involved and plays an important role in getting task completed or executed. I delegate to my team, and I make it clear no job is too small or too big,” she explains.

Read what else she has to say.

Why is it important to the Black community for a business owner in the beauty industry to actually be Black?
For me, I think it’s important because the Black woman and Black community are such a huge piece of the beauty industry pie as consumers. It is only right to cater to them … a “for us, by us” philosophy. When I created Virgin Hair Depot, I felt like I was filling a need. Prior to, I felt we had no representation, and now we do. I love what we have done for the black women/community and what we have given them back that was not being done prior to VHD. I get joy out of seeing how many new beauty professionals are coming into the business with supply stores, and salons. It’s an exciting time now.

What are three lessons you learned about being in the retail business that you wish someone had share before you started?
1. Cash flow is just as important as profit.
2. You have to operate with a certain level of disconnect as you do passion.
3. Learn more from other peoples mistakes rather than making your own.

How did you research your industry before you started your own business?
I researched by using competitors products, reading reports on our industry, and paying attention to what consumers were saying they did not want , so that we could meet all of there needs.

What are the advantages you have found in running your own business?
I find that running Virgin Hair Depot affords me a quality of life you rarely get working for someone else. It’s an advantage to travel. Most importantly, I get to control the quality that my client purchases. I can ensure they are only getting the best. Prior to Virgin Hair Depot, no one offered quality, transparency and extension education.

How do you select members to join your team?
I like team players that seek us out. It shows me they are excited about our brand, but selecting members always is a thorough process.

What trade show do you attend and why?
We love Cosmoprof. It’s an international show for the beauty industry and keeps you on top of upcoming trends. We attend every year. We will be at the show again in November 2015 in Hong Kong.

Describe how hands-on you are in your business decisions. 
I am very hands on when it comes to making business decisions. I’m never to busy to listen to the heart beat of my brand. We are a big player in the hair extension market and it requires attention to detail and to be hands on.

What are the best ways to establish vendor relationships?
Vendor relationships are hard to develop in our industry because there is a huge risk when dealing with overseas manufacturers. This is why we offer an amazing wholesale program for stylists and beauty professionals that want to get into the business.

How important is researching the competition?
In my opinion, researching the competition is important and may be about 10 percent of your business. You just want to know where they are. It’s more important to be the best at what you do or what you are offering. I think researching the competition just gives you a guide how to stand out. It should not be your main focus. You have to focus on what you are doing and how to do you even better.

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