Gabrielle Joffie knows hair. More specifically hair extensions.
That’s her job as brand manager for Indique Virgin Hair Extensions. Headquartered in India, the company has retail stores across the United States, distributors in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America and a celebrity clientele that includes Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, Ciara, Zendaya and others.
“Hair extensions have become more like an accessory that is worn by woman of all ages, regardless of race, age or background,” said Joffie, who works at Indique’s office in Atlanta. “At Indique Hair, we market hair like fashion. We are trend forecasters and trendsetters in the hair extension space.”
Joffie, who has an undergraduate degree in economics from Dickinson College and a master’s degree in fashion design from Drexel University, was pursuing another career when a series of events helped her discover her real passion.
“I took the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), and I was going to be a lawyer,” Joffie recalled. “I studied abroad in Spain, and I was like, ‘Absolutely not. I’m not going to do law. I love fashion, and that’s what I’m going to do.'”
Rolling out spoke with Joffie about climbing the ladder at Indique Hair, achieving success in business as a Black woman and more.
Tell us a little bit about your journey with Indique and the process of becoming brand manager.
I started working with Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, and one of the women working there told me that Indique Hair was looking for an intern.
That was so unique because at the time, in 2010, no one was really marketing or branding hair extensions. I wasn’t even wearing hair extensions, but when I had the interview with Ericka Dotson, co-founder and creative director of Indique, I was blown away.
After interning and working the salesfloor simultaneously for about three months, Ericka was able to bring me on full-time as a marketing associate. After that, I transitioned from marketing associate to global marketing manager to now brand manager, and I’ve been with the brand for seven years.
What do you do in your role as brand manager with the company?
As Indique’s brand manager, I wear several hats. Working directly with our design and product development departments, I am able to project manage our marketing strategy for campaigns, promotions and new business relationships. I have to stay ahead of the pulse within the hair extension industry to ensure that we continue to lead as trendsetters.
What key skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
I’m incredibly organized, poised and able to see the big picture. There’s always been a stigma placed on African American women in power that we’re snappy and we don’t work well with others. I feel I’m the opposite of what that stigma is. If I can’t work in a peaceful environment, then I can’t function.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
To my younger self, I would say, “Try as many things as possible when it comes to your career and expressing your creativity.”
I was definitely very scared when I was younger. and I feel like if I would’ve talked to my younger self, I would have said walk with your head up high, be confident, be present in the room and make those connections. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If I did those things, I would have been able to speed up my career a little bit because I was a little more nervous and a little shyer back in the day.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
When it comes to making marketing decisions or doing campaigns, you need a woman of color to have a seat at the table. If our voice isn’t heard, if we aren’t there to make those big decisions, then you’re just making products that have nothing to do with us.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
My achievement is very personal and has a lot to do with Indique. A few years ago, I received the “star award,” which honors someone that goes above and beyond their duties at work. The award came with an all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa for two weeks, and I decided to take my mom with me.
My parents are still a little bent out of shape that I didn’t go the lawyer route, so when I presented this opportunity to my mom, she was so ecstatic and told everyone. This trip was the best bonding opportunity that I’ve had with my mom. We were able to hang out as adults and have so much fun.
Being able to see my mom as that strong woman in South Africa, as opposed to just seeing “mom,” was amazing. It was by far the best experience, and because of my work and my career, I was able to do that for my mother.
In addition to her work with Indique, Gabrielle has a blog called roundthewaygirl.com that chronicles her adventures working in beauty, fashion and hair.