Tiffini Gatlin has gone through hell and hot water to birth a phenomenal family of hair products that will change the lives of women of color, mothers, and busy business professionals as she works to help them keep their hair follicles. I know everyone has circulated the pictures of the legendary supermodel Naomi Campbell’s hair loss, but you can’t beat her long legs and beautiful stride. Let’s not tear down but rather build one another up and step into a new level of beauty. The new level is Latched and Hooked. Vibrant and healthy are Gatlin’s underlining goals behind her assortment of products designed to accessorize your everyday with a variety of fun, feminine new looks that can be changed in the blink of an eye. Are you ready to be Latched and Hooked? Gatlin is on fire with her company and armed with an explosive philosophy of shake, fluff and go. This proud mother of four is definitely rolling out a legacy that is noteworthy.
As an African American business owner, what challenges do you face and what words of wisdom would you share with other minorities venturing off into the world of beauty?
As an African American business owner, specifically in the genre of beauty and more specifically in the niche of textured synthetic hair extensions, I’m the minority and faced with a diversity and inclusion issue. As a black woman who designs and manufactures my own synthetic hair products, I find getting my products in independent beauty supply stores difficult. Buyers of the beauty supply stores or generally Asian and they would rather purchase hair extensions from other Asian owned brands. But, where there is a will, there is a way. The advice that I would offer to other minorities in the world of beauty is don’t give up on yourself and create your own tribe (community) when another tribe will not accept you into their space.
With a background in banking and finance, how important is capital in fulfilling your dream? What plans or systems would you suggest to small business owners who are just getting started in business?
Having a banking background prepared me for the risks and rewards that come along with starting and maintaining a business. Liquid capital is important in that you have the means to scale your business. It’s not impossible to fulfill your dreams without the proper capital–yet not having or knowing how much capital you need (and how you will use it) will significantly slow down the growth of your company.
Three quick processes I would advise every small business owner to do no matter what stage of business you are in:
1. Review your revenue and expenses weekly, you can use tools such as Mint or Bench to keep you organized.
2. Don’t quit your day job unless you have to. Having a second income can help bootstrap your business until the business can sustain on its own.
3. Talk to an accountant. Every business may not be able to afford an accountant but it’s good practice to find out who much it would cost your business to have one and the benefits of acquiring one so that when you are ready to add that expense–you are ready.
You mentioned a Tina Turner type moment where a client got burned in your beauty chair. What happened and how did that evolve into Latched and Hooked?
After transitioning from corporate to entrepreneur, I used hair as a way to earn extra money while being a lifestyle blogger. Although crochet braiding is not a new method, in 2014 it was quickly becoming the best hairstyle for Black women. Although beautiful, the method of brushing kinky textured hair, rolling around a perm or flexi rod and covering yourself with thick towels as your prepared to did your head in a pot of boiling water–was extremely dangerous. There were thousands of hashtags on Instagram and hundreds of YouTube videos with millions of views urging women to follow the process so they could get the look of textured curly hair that would withstand any climate with little maintenance. After trying the method several times, even on myself, I stopped after nearly burning a client from the steam and hot water. I went to the beauty supply store to find synthetic hair that was already curled and looped. Not only was there no options available there were no pre-looped crochet options on the market. Latched and Hooked was born out of the need to provide consumers and hair stylists with a safe, affordable and time-sensitive alternative.
In this microwave society, I know people think that you arrive at this place of success overnight. Is this overnight stardom or can you enlighten us about your journey?
My success is anything but overnight. I became an entrepreneur in 2010. I have tried several different things — all things I loved and they did not prove to be lucrative. Latched and Hooked is my second beauty company. My first beauty company I started with stranger because I was scared to birth such a large vision on my own. The first partnership didn’t’t last and although that was a painful journey, it was absolutely necessary for me to go through the trials so that I’m wiser, more cautious, more knowledgeable and I can share with other entrepreneurs about my pitfalls. I’m very transparent about my journey. Sounds cliché, but you can google my name and find articles and podcasts where I talk about my journey so my hope is I never appear to be an overnight success.
What is coming up next for Latched and Hooked and your beauty empire?
What’s coming up next for Latched and Hooked is creating face to face opportunities with my current and prospective customers. I’m going ‘Beyond The Box’™to host intimate discussions, hair and maintenance demos, partnering with some of my other favorite hair care brands and more. It’s so important to me that consumers get to know me, my story, and the why behind everything I do. This is important to me because they become more attached to the why versus the what and in my opinion, they will have a greater respect for the product they are spending their hard-earned money on.