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Starting a woman-owned business? Check out Tamara’s startup tips

Photo provided by Tamara Garrison-Thomas

Tamara Garrison-Thomas’ primary company, Mane Elementz, specializes in helping people start hair extension businesses online. Having been in business since 2005, her mission is to help entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their online businesses with tangible and actionable items they can implement to make their first dollar online.

So, what’s your story?

I am a beauty boss and online startup strategist from Phoenix. I am a teacher, wife and mother who has always been entrepreneurial. In the early 2000s, I started my first online business and grew from there. In 2011 I saw something missing in the hair extension industry, so I started my primary company, Mane Elementz. Mane Elementz specializes in helping people start hair extension businesses online. We do so through educational materials, our HAIRpreneur Academy and through one-on-one coaching. My mission is to help entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their online businesses with tangible and actionable items they can implement to make their first dollar online.

How did you first get involved with your business? 

I was in a network marketing business for hair. It was going really well. I was building a team and helping people start their business online and sell hair but then the company couldn’t keep up with the demand and ended up shutting down. I had so many people interested in continuing in something similar so I started Mane Elementz.

Tell us about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted. 

Which one should I choose? There are a lot of ups and downs in online. One that stands out was when I was looking to move my hair business to a physical location next to the local football stadium. I met with the landlord, had my husband check out the location, started decorating in my head and then at the final meeting the landlord asked for a ridiculous cut of my business to use the space. That he would discount my lease if he had a stake and could get a whole bunch of hair to sell and keep the profits. It was a complete bust and I was sad because I had already told people and built my hopes up. But things happen for a reason and I’m glad I saw his true colors before I signed anything!

What is your greatest achievement?  

Besides marrying my husband and having my daughter, one of my greatest achievements has been being able to encourage women and young ladies to go after their dreams. I love getting calls and emails about the milestones and success people are achieving. I have found that people get further along when they get the tangible information they can apply than a bunch of fluff.

What has surprised you the most about your business? 

The impact that we have made on people new to the hair industry and online space. It’s amazing to see your ideas come to life and help people see financial results.

What’s been the most difficult day of your career so far and how did you deal with it?

I had someone buy a lot of hair from me with a really big check that turned out to be bad. I had to get authorities and lawyers involved and it was very disappointing. I almost shut everything down that day but thanks to my husband and mom, they reminded me of how much we help people and that these are things that can happen in business. I had to pick myself up and keep going.

Who has influenced your decision to pursue your career?

My biggest influence has been my mom. I grew up watching my mom run successful businesses from home. This allowed her to be available for everything me and my siblings did and I wanted the same for my child. She is a huge support in my business, coaching me along the way and always providing help where needed. I am sure Mane Elementz would be a distant memory if it weren’t for her encouragement.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I am a musician and first lady!

Let’s talk women in business. What is the first step a woman should know about opening her business? 

OK, ladies, the first thing you should do is define your business idea. Research how many people are doing it, how is it working for them and how are you going to make it different? What problem will you solve and how will you stand out? Once you have defined the idea and found a need in the industry, then you should begin planning.

Are grants available for women business owners

There definitely are. Check out and places that specialize in what you want to do.

Finish the sentence:

In the first 90 days, a new business owner must have … A plan, business registration, [the] brand set up, social media set up, website set up and a launch on the horizon. Success loves speed!

How important is a social media presence in business? 

Social media helps people find out more about your business before they decide to buy from you. It’s very vital to the growth of your business. When I first started, I was doing hair parties and local events. Then I started leveraging videos on YouTube and using Instagram and my reach started increasing as well as my sales. Don’t be scared of it. Embrace it and make it work for you. 

What advice can you give new business owners who are thinking of giving up? 

Don’t. Remember failures are lessons, not reasons to give up. Also, take some time for some self-reflection. Have you really done all you can for your business to succeed? Does your neighbor know you’re in business? Everyone in your local grocery store or even family? If not, there is still work for you to do and it’s on you to get your business in front of them.

Three tips on cutting startup costs in business? 

– Do not spend more than $50 on a logo. Logos don’t sell products, you do!

– Do your website yourself (you can upgrade later).

– Don’t buy a lot of inventory upfront. Learn your customers buying habits and upgrade inventory later.





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