podcast image

Podcast

Episode 138: How To Start A Successful Hair Business with Tiffini Gatlin

May 27, 2021

In today’s episode, we meet Tiffini Gatlin, founder of Latched and Hooked Beauty. Tiffini’s company manufactures non-toxic, ready-to-wear synthetic hair extensions.  After seeing how women were risking burns for their crochet styling, she invented the loop feature on pre-curled hair that’s now widely used. After building that invention into a million dollar company, she was forced to sell it after she fell out with her partner.

Today, her second hair based business, Latched and Hooked Beauty, is on it’s way to being a seven-figure business.

During our conversation, we talk about how to structure a partnership the right way, how to pick yourself up after hitting a low point in your business, and what it takes to patent, manufacture, and grow a social media following around a new product and much more.

Listen on Apple Podcast

You’ll learn:

  • Why being an entrepreneur means you can do more than one thing
  • What it looks like to bring someone in as cofounder
  • Organic marketing strategies to grow your business
  • How to navigate manufacturing products in China

Mentioned in this episode:

Business Website: https://www.latchedandhooked.com/ 
Business Instagram @latchedandhooked 
Personal Instagram @tiffinigatlin

Ready to Launch Your Business?

Join Our Membership Community

The She’s Off Script podcast has a membership community to help you launch and grow your business with resources, coaching, and collaboration with other founders. Join our Boss Off Script community today by going to serwaaadjeipelle.com/community


Episode Transcript

Tiffini Gatlin

I remember going to this young lady's house and I was doing her hair and I remember telling her, do not move

Tiffini Gatlin

because the water that I'm going to use to dip the ends of your hair

Tiffini Gatlin

to get the style to set,

Tiffini Gatlin

It's so hot that you can boil a pot of noodles in it. And I remember her just looking so terrified. But again, as black women, we have been fed this narrative for our whole lives that beauty hurts, that beauty is pain.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Hi, Off-Scripters it's your host, Serwaa Adjei-Pellé and welcome to episode 1 38 of the She's off Script podcast. This is a show where we hear and learn from women who have created unique blueprints for their business success. My hope is that you'll hear their stories and translate their gems into a unique

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

path for yourself. In today's episode, we meet Tiffini Gatlin who is the founder and CEO of Latched and Hooked Beauty. If you're a black woman, you've probably worn a crochet hairstyle. Tiffini invented the loop and we now see on most crucial hair today her clean beauty company manufactures nontoxic ready to wear

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

synthetic hair extensions. During my conversation with Tiffany, she shares her journey to creating latched unhooked after her first business partnership fell apart. She walks us through how she manufacturers and negotiates in the asian market. She shares her most effective organic marketing strategies and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

so much more get out your pens and notebooks because trust me, this is a

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

gem filled episode before we hear the rest of Tiffany's story. I would love it If you could subscribe rate and review our show on Itunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, this will help to spread the word about our show. So amazing stories like Tiffany's can continue to inspire women looking to launch their

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

own Off-Scripters journeys with that. Let's go off script with the founder and CEO of Latched and Hooked

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Beauty Tiffini Gatlin. Tiffini Gatlin Welcome to She's off Script

Tiffini Gatlin

thank you for being here. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so delighted to be

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

with you in your community of course. So for anyone who hasn't heard of you or Latched and Hooked, could you share who you

Tiffini Gatlin

are and what you do? Sure. So my name is Tiffini Gatlin and I am the founder of Lashed and Hooked Beauty and we

Tiffini Gatlin

are a scalp first brand and so we use hair

Tiffini Gatlin

extensions as a vehicle to communicate and educate to black women how to care for their scalp and how to use products that help them to feel their most confident self. Our vision is to make beauty simple for black women and you know, we feel like we're doing that by creating products that don't sacrifice your confidence,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

your skin or your health. Oh and I love that mission. Especially since for so long we've just taken whatever has been on the market as black women and have kind of thought this is just the way it needs to be. If we're going

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to get our protective styling, I honestly think we'd be remiss if we didn't cover the fact that

Tiffini Gatlin

you've been

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

On this entrepreneurial journey for 11 years. You started in finance and left without a plan. So let's start your story there before we dive into all the gems that you have around starting a million dollar business, not once but twice. So tell us, why did you

Tiffini Gatlin

leave

Tiffini Gatlin

your job in corporate America? So I actually, I mean I love corporate America, I love my job at Bank of America. I was assistant vice president of consumer salafist thinking it was a great segue into, you know, having a corporate professional job out of college, graduated from Clarkson University in Atlanta and I thought I

Tiffini Gatlin

was going to law school and didn't do as well on the L set that I, you know that I expected that I would and I didn't have a plan B and so

Tiffini Gatlin

ended up in finance definitely did not seek that out, I say. Finally, it sought me out and you know, I credit my time at Bank of America to me being developing myself as a leader as a young leader. I was a young professionals in my twenties when I started a Bank of America, I became a new mom in my twenties.

Tiffini Gatlin

And so I was really getting to know myself and what

Tiffini Gatlin

I loved and you know what I wanted to be, so to speak. And so Bank of America definitely just helped me to develop into a professional. It helped me to understand how to communicate better with a wide range of people

Tiffini Gatlin

with different backgrounds

Tiffini Gatlin

and expectations and and I I love that, but I just knew that there was something that

Tiffini Gatlin

was missing. I knew that there

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

wasn't space

Tiffini Gatlin

for my creativity. Mm you

Tiffini Gatlin

know, it was I was supposed to be more of a

Tiffini Gatlin

do er versus you know, being a person that has really great ideas and being able to bring those ideas and hopefully seeing them come to fruition. A and so I moved around a couple of times with Bank of America and each time, you know, I did I did very well, but

Tiffini Gatlin

again, it just wasn't feeding the creative aspect that

Tiffini Gatlin

I knew that I had right and so I

Tiffini Gatlin

just wanted to do more. You know, I I also just didn't believe that, you know, I was designed to work in one place for the rest of my life and then just retire and that was the trajectory of my life. So I somehow convinced my husband that I you know I

Tiffini Gatlin

can be a successful entrepreneur and I decided to leave and you're right, I did not have a plan, you know a lot of people have these stories about how they had all this money saved up and you know how they followed this blueprint and all of that and I didn't have that at all, I thought that I was going to and when I left bank of America

Tiffini Gatlin

I thought I was gonna create the next insta cart before insta cart with insta cart and so I went out to create a concierge service and that didn't go so well, but you know, I again it was I had an idea because you know I knew that there was a need to create something for busy professionals, I just didn't know

Tiffini Gatlin

how to flush it out. You know, there weren't many like incubators and accelerators and if they were, they weren't as widely promoted as they are today, there weren't, you know, any business communities for black women to, you know, to rally around, this was like

Tiffini Gatlin

Almost 12 years ago, there they all of these little things that exist today and are very valuable today, didn't exist back then when I was moving into the entrepreneur

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

space, so you were just kind of hustling, trying different

Tiffini Gatlin

things to see what would stick. Absolutely, I was literally

Tiffini Gatlin

just figuring it out and I knew that I was the type of person that, you know, I definitely took my college motto to heart find a way to make one. So I'm definitely that type of person that, you know, I'm going to figure it out and I definitely couldn't let my family down either because here it

Tiffini Gatlin

Is, I left my job, you know, making six

Tiffini Gatlin

figures in, in this job and then all of a sudden going to nothing coming in every month and we definitely worked in a household that required two incomes because of the lifestyle that we had acquired over the time. And so, you know,

Tiffini Gatlin

it made my husband nervous, you know, that the money that I did have, you know, from taking out of my 41 K

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

that it

Tiffini Gatlin

was depleting quickly, crew had to make some decisions and so, you know, overall that I left, because

Tiffini Gatlin

I knew that I could bring more into, you know, I could provide more

Tiffini Gatlin

into, you know, this economic, you know, atmosphere that we live in, I just felt like I could contribute more and I

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

really wanted to give more. So you went from the concierge service to doing hair on the side and then there was even

Tiffini Gatlin

a magazine somewhere in there. So I actually, from the concierge, I

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

actually

Tiffini Gatlin

moved into digital media, figured out that's when like the boom of twitter was happening

Tiffini Gatlin

and I don't think it's Graham was quite out yet, but twitter was definitely booming and I figured out how to maneuver twitter out and how to amass a large following and how to get celebrities to talk back. Like I figured that out and I figured out that I was really good at it and I

Tiffini Gatlin

was already a great writer and so using my love for writing, I was able to figure out like, wow, I'm really good at the social media thing and I was getting thousands

Tiffini Gatlin

of followers, but I just spewing information that I was finding from research and so I then kind of

Tiffini Gatlin

evolved into a influencer longer and I started writing articles for essence and I started covering essence festival, I started working with big brands and developing campaigns for them that specifically targeted millennials. That

Tiffini Gatlin

is actually what I did, you know when I left, you

Tiffini Gatlin

know, when I decided that the concierge was actually not

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

going to work for me and then it actually brought

Tiffini Gatlin

in money, which is good, Yeah, you know, but what I realized is that, you know, although

Tiffini Gatlin

the blog anything didn't initially checks and that was the thing, it brought in opportunities and there's a big difference and I think, you know, I see the influencers that are out there today and they want the check really fast. But the thing about it is that's not the trajectory of being an influencer, that's not technically how it happened. So you have to

Tiffini Gatlin

kind of like putting your due diligence and put in that work and, and show that you are you are a trusted voice and trusted source and so I went through this, you know, many years of, of writing and and getting, you know, free trips and free products and things like that. I

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

like

Tiffini Gatlin

to use the money. Yeah, kids, I have a mortgage and car knows I need money and so that's how the hair kind of entered into the picture because I started thinking about what are some other things that I am really good at that I can do while doing this too because I really enjoyed this part of it and I'm not and I didn't start doing it because of the money because I didn't even know that you could actually make money

Tiffini Gatlin

from being a blogger, but I did

Tiffini Gatlin

it because I loved it, but I needed something else that I can do, which I felt was the really cool thing about being on my own and be an entrepreneur is that I could really do more than one thing. I don't think we're really taught that we could do more than one thing. I think we're taught that you do one thing and do it very well, you make money from it. But the one thing that I really

Tiffini Gatlin

enjoyed about entrepreneurship is that I could really benefit from all the

Tiffini Gatlin

different skills that I had. So I started doing different things to generate income. And so one of those things that I started doing was going back to protective hairstyling, which is something that I did when

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I was in high school and especially around there, the natural hair movement was really booming. People were on Youtube sharing, this is how I'm going natural doing the big chop. And

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

so then you found yourself, I like how you tell the story about how you're working with a client who you imagined you could have burned and gotten sued. So

Tiffini Gatlin

walk us through that time. Yeah, so it was during the holidays and my husband, my family, we're going to Mississippi for the holidays and I'm like God if I'm gonna be in Mississippi for like almost

Tiffini Gatlin

a week, I need to do something because Mississippi is, you know, not like the most, you know, exciting hustle and bustle place that you go and visit. So I had

Tiffini Gatlin

to figure out, you know, what could I do for the week and how can I make some money while I was there. And so I remember putting out a flyer saying that I was going to be in Mississippi and that I was gonna be doing crochet hair styling, and at that

Tiffini Gatlin

time, like, people weren't really like, they were doing it D I. Y style in their home, but you didn't really have a lot of hair stylist that we're that we're doing this style because it's dangerous, like, nobody wanted to take on the liability, and so I said, you know, I'm going to Mississippi, I'm coming from Atlanta, people think Atlanta is really cool, I'm going to Mississippi, they're going to want me to do their hair, and I did, I believe I had six

Tiffini Gatlin

appointments lined up and that it was really good for me at that time, and and so I remember going to this young lady's house and I was doing her hair and I remember

Tiffini Gatlin

telling her, do not move, because the water that I'm going to use to dip

Tiffini Gatlin

the ends of your hair to

Tiffini Gatlin

get this style to set, it's so hot that you can boil a pot of noodles in it. I'm just giving you the perspective of how hot this water is, I'm going to dip your head,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I

Tiffini Gatlin

have these towels around, you won't move because if you

Tiffini Gatlin

move, you're

Tiffini Gatlin

gonna burn yourself,

Tiffini Gatlin

you know? And I remember her just looking so terrified, you know, because your hair right? But again, as black women, we are, we have been fed this narrative for our whole lives, that beauty hurts. That beauty is pain all the way back to when our grandmothers and moms was flat iron in our hair, or hot hot comb your hair, your ear and you know all this and you get burned on your neck or behind your ear, on your cheek or whatever, and that was supposed

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to be

Tiffini Gatlin

you know, okay. But I remember that this

Tiffini Gatlin

young

Tiffini Gatlin

lady just looking terrified and what ended up happening when I did, you know I told her to pull her head

Tiffini Gatlin

to the side. The steam from the water is what made her jump because

Tiffini Gatlin

that steam was so hot. She jumped and it was at that moment

Tiffini Gatlin

that I said, you know, mm yeah, it's gotta be a better way. This is not gonna work. You know, I'm not trying to get sued, I don't have a license which I didn't have to have one in Georgia to do any protective styles because I wasn't using chemicals but I'm just like it's hard

Tiffini Gatlin

to be a better way. And so I thought about, you know I

Tiffini Gatlin

remember on the ride home I was thinking about like what if

Tiffini Gatlin

the hair was already curled? You know what if the hair was curled and you all you have to do is just take the curl out of the box and crocheted in your head. Now at this time

Tiffini Gatlin

This was 2014 and there was

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

no crochet on the

Tiffini Gatlin

market, So

Tiffini Gatlin

was

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

yours? The 1st 1st man. Those copycats were really

Tiffini Gatlin

Quick, but I'm getting ahead. Yeah, two years. It took them two to copycat because I came out in 2000. The product came out in 2015 and I remember the first time and I went into a beauty supply store, had never gone in this

Tiffini Gatlin

beauty supply store ever before, I remember going into this beauty

Tiffini Gatlin

supply store, I know I'm jumping, but so yes, my product was the first on the market. I know, it's hard to believe people like really? Really? I'm like, yes, there was no crochet curls, locks, braids,

Tiffini Gatlin

nothing crouching with a loop in the, in the story, all you can buy with synthetic hair. And so when I

Tiffini Gatlin

created the precursor

Tiffini Gatlin

looped hair, I created it because I did not want to see black

Tiffini Gatlin

women showing other black

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

women

Tiffini Gatlin

potentially how to burn themselves and I wanted something

Tiffini Gatlin

that was gonna be safer for us to be able to use. I know I wanted something safer. So I know if I was thinking that, you know, I knew the other black women were thinking that and then

Tiffini Gatlin

also to, I knew that there were a lot of black women out there that did not know how to roll

Tiffini Gatlin

their hair around a rod. Yeah, you didn't get that perfectly, That style is not going to come

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

out cute and your coils

Tiffini Gatlin

were just just perfect.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So they feel myself, so to tell me how you went from having the idea, having the experience and know how on how to do hair, to

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

then seeking out a

Tiffini Gatlin

partner to

Tiffini Gatlin

grow this business with. So, and you're talking about a partner as

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

in like a co

Tiffini Gatlin

founder, your co founder? Yes, so I think it was just a situation and I think a lot of people can probably tested it or, or you know, have had this feeling when you think about an

Tiffini Gatlin

idea that feels so grand and so bigger than you. Like I said, remember there wasn't any crochet on the market, you

Tiffini Gatlin

know, so trying to, to, to create something, which I had never created anything like this before, never created anything where I had to get a manufacturer involved, wasn't sure how I was going to sell it to people, you know, wasn't worried about people buying it because I felt like I had the audience that I had a mask from the whole, you know, influence your situation and we, you know, gaining the followers, but I just didn't know like, what do I do? Like how do I sell it? Do you know, do people come pick it up? Like, you know, and so I think that you get so scared by your own ideas that you think that the journey would be better

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

if

Tiffini Gatlin

somebody comes along with you. And so that's where I was in that situation when I was driving back from Mississippi, you know, in that six hour drive and

Tiffini Gatlin

thinking in my head like I want to do this, but I'm

Tiffini Gatlin

scared to do it alone,

Tiffini Gatlin

who could I ask that would want

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to

Tiffini Gatlin

do this with me day. And so the co founder that I found it was somebody that I knew from instagram didn't necessarily know her personally, but I knew that she loved him, you know, croce styling, She loved protective hair styling and I remember mentioning to her like, hey, I have this idea, like it

Tiffini Gatlin

probably sounds really crazy, but what if there was hair that was already pre curl and had a loop at the top? And the loop is very important. A lot of people don't realize, but the loop is very important in the creation of of my

Tiffini Gatlin

product because the loop was to be an indicator in identifying for the customer as to

Tiffini Gatlin

where

Tiffini Gatlin

you start the style. Mhm. And so I know that that's you know what's popular in the world today treat curled And so did you not get it

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

patented? Why is it that everyone was able to just

Tiffini Gatlin

jump on and copy it? So I think that there is a misconception about patents. So yes, the idea was

Tiffini Gatlin

patented

Tiffini Gatlin

and we have a patent on the curl but

Tiffini Gatlin

it's not enough to have. And also to when you get a patent, you are protected in the United States. And a lot of our, I mean a lot of the products are, are

Tiffini Gatlin

created in,

Tiffini Gatlin

you know overseas and so you have that

Tiffini Gatlin

variable and then also to, if you try to enforce your patent, you better have the money to be

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

able to fight the path. Exactly. So as a small startup, it's like, what do you do

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

if someone bigger copies

Tiffini Gatlin

it, what do you do? You're going to do? You have, you have the choice of whether or not you're going to spend a lot of money in court or attorney

Tiffini Gatlin

fees to enforce your patent and you're talking about really big companies who have been in business for five decades. We have a lot of money and can make

Tiffini Gatlin

a lot of things

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

happen and you're just starting and they're coming on the market cheaper, which was something else we found in

Tiffini Gatlin

the, in

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

the beauty stores. But so you're at that point, your business had quite a few headwinds that you were dealing with. So not only were you a small company that was just starting, you also had a market

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

of copycats that we're rushing and kind of trying to crowd

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

you out of the market. But then also internally there was strife with the partner that you have brought on board. So how did that partnership ultimately end the company that you had started? Because at this point you've

Tiffini Gatlin

Given $1 million dollar company.

Tiffini Gatlin

Yeah. Multimillion dollar company. Actually, the

Tiffini Gatlin

thing is

Tiffini Gatlin

that, so it's definitely was probably, you know, one of the lowest points, you know, in my business career as an entrepreneur. But the good thing about it is that we had, we were able to be in the market for two years before there was any competition that came in the market. So we have basically solidified

Tiffini Gatlin

our space in the market two years prior to any other companies creating the precursor to lose hair. So that was really good because consumers were able to see that, hey, this company is black owned,

Tiffini Gatlin

you know, these two women, you know, are selling this product and people knew the name. It was different. It

Tiffini Gatlin

was a name that I made up. I just put two words together and I made it up which made the name trademark Herbal. So the names trademarks, the

Tiffini Gatlin

curls were patented. We were, you know, I was using my story in terms of why I wanted to bring this to market. So

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

that

Tiffini Gatlin

really helped because very relatable people resonated with the story. And, you know, I was prior to this product coming out, I was posting pictures on instagram of, you know, me doing other people's hair and you know, the curls and all of this. So people just really related to the story, you know, it was, it was a sour part in entrepreneurship, but now that I look back on it,

Tiffini Gatlin

it was a very necessary situation that needed to happen because I'm able to help other entrepreneurs who may be going through something

Tiffini Gatlin

similar. You know, I get, you know, tapped on to talk about partnerships and, you know, uh patents and all kinds of things, because actually

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I went through it maybe let's pause here and maybe share some of the gems you have around picking a partner and how to structure a partnership. So it doesn't disintegrate to really a person's worst nightmare where you end up spending a couple nights in jail

Tiffini Gatlin

for

Tiffini Gatlin

your business, right? It's a yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of what I went through was me fighting

Tiffini Gatlin

for what I knew that I deserved, you know, I don't know if a lot of

Tiffini Gatlin

people probably would have went, you know, a lot of people probably just maybe would have walked away and say whatever, forget it, I'll do something else, you know, it's not worth it or what have you, but I spent three years in court fighting for my business and, you know, and a lot of people say, well, did you win? You win? I mean, do you really

Tiffini Gatlin

win? If you don't really get back what you created, I don't

Tiffini Gatlin

know if you know, but I

Tiffini Gatlin

was able to, you know, sell my business to another, another beauty brand, who is taking the brand on and continuing what I would have wanted it to be and you know, so for that, I think I'm grateful and it's always, it's going to always be a part of my legacy. I can't really talk about who I am and where I am right now without actually

Tiffini Gatlin

talking about that business. So, you know, it is what it is. But I think that the advice that I would give to others who are, you know, looking for partners and and you know, going through partner issues or what have you, I think, you know, you have to look at when you find a co founder.

Tiffini Gatlin

It's really like marrying someone, you know, it's very similar in that you really need to know

Tiffini Gatlin

who your co founder is. You know, you really need to get an attorney on board before you start signing documents because you really need to understand what a partnership is going to mean 5, 10 years down the line, before you start making any money, you need

Tiffini Gatlin

to get an attorney involved and understand what the relationship is

Tiffini Gatlin

going to be and how each person is going to participate in the business, what their roles are going to be. What happens when conflict comes into the picture, because it will, I was naive to think like, oh no, it's going to be great, it's going to be fine. Everything's, you know, because you're just excited, right? You just want to do business, you know?

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

But when

Tiffini Gatlin

big money enters the

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

scene,

Tiffini Gatlin

big money

Tiffini Gatlin

enters the scene. Trust me, things start to happen. So it's before

Tiffini Gatlin

you make any one penny, you need to really decide to understand how the business going to, you know, be operated? How does conflict resolution happen in your business? You know, is there going to be a third person that decides if the two of you can't decide, you need to decide, you know, the percentages that each person is going

Tiffini Gatlin

to have in the business. I didn't know at the time that 50 50 should never be, you know, that's not how you should divide a business, You should never divide 50 50 I didn't know that. So those are just a few of the things that I would recommend, you know, when you're thinking about going and then just really think about like if you're going into business with a friend or family, are

Tiffini Gatlin

you willing to lose friendship

Tiffini Gatlin

and possibly family over business? Because it's possible that

Tiffini Gatlin

it can it can happen and not saying that

Tiffini Gatlin

it will, but just think, bring even bringing that question up. If it's not worth it, then I would probably up stay clear of asking that person

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to be a co founder and just think can I do this by myself, which is what

Tiffini Gatlin

ultimately

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

you have done in turning

Tiffini Gatlin

around and starting another business a yeah, you can definitely do it by yourself, I mean you can do it by yourself no matter how hard you think it is, you can do it by yourself, you don't need a co founder. And I think that you know, you know,

Tiffini Gatlin

well let me say this, you can do it by yourself, you don't you might not necessarily eat, maybe you

Tiffini Gatlin

do need a co founder, you know, but it's not because you

Tiffini Gatlin

can't do it by yourself, you know, you just may need a co founder because you need to be able to divide up some of the responsibilities that need to take place in your business. I think you just need to be very clear on why you need a co founder. Not that I need a co founder because I can't do this by myself. I need a co founder because I need to be able to split up some of the responsibilities in this business to

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

be able to scale effectively. Now that makes sense. And also so you can operate in your zone of genius and get someone else who can divide and conquer in their zone of genius. So now you've built yet another multi million dollar business. How did you make that transition? Because you said this was the lowest point in your entrepreneurial journey. Maybe even in your life at that point, How

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

did you pick yourself up enough to

Tiffini Gatlin

then build this next business? So I want to make a quick correction. We are not

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

a million dollar business

Tiffini Gatlin

yet. Not yet. Not yet. But

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I think I've seen some numbers that

Tiffini Gatlin

you are reaching that point. Not yet. But we are we are definitely trending that way. We are six figure business soon to be seven. And you know, and I want to make that clear because I want to show people that you know it's not you know, it doesn't happen quickly. It's not overnight. I think that I had a little bit of luck with my last business and the it was the first into market and it was something that wasn't on the market. It was something that I knew definitely black women needed

Tiffini Gatlin

and I didn't have competition. And

Tiffini Gatlin

that is a unicorn situation. You know, and that's why that business was able to be a multimillion dollar business in a very short amount of time with this business. You know, with last unhooks it is, you know, not only is my competition, my

Tiffini Gatlin

first business that I created, they are my competition, but I also have a plethora of other competitors in the space. And you know, I had to just, you know, people were confused initially when I came in because they were

Tiffini Gatlin

like, wait, is this a subsidiary of this company? Like they were just confused, you know? And so I really had to really think about what was

Tiffini Gatlin

the mission of this company and what what did I want to see done differently? And I just really have to understand what the mission and the vision of

Tiffini Gatlin

this company was to be. And so I'm learning new things, you know, that I didn't know before, you know, and I'm having, you know, a whole new experience. And so it's really beautiful to really be able to be in this position that I am today and really continue

Tiffini Gatlin

the legacy that I started. But in a more, in a deeper and more

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

meaningful way this time around. Um I would say the thing I love about your mission is the focus on the clean side of things, because for so long I think black women have accepted what is that when I put the synthetic hair on my head is going to

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

itch and it's itching because there's really no regard for the level of chemicals that are put in there. And that's something that you're rectifying with your product or to the fact that you're thinking about the scalp cleanliness, which is not something that necessarily goes hand in hand. When you're at the beauty supply store, you're

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

getting something, there's just no, I don't know, there's no relationship there, which is something that

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

you bring with your brand now, something that I think sets you apart is that you are manufacturing this, this is not a distributor situation. So how did you go about

Tiffini Gatlin

finding a manufacturer in china? So obviously I had a little bit of a leg up because obviously I had a previous

Tiffini Gatlin

business and so I actually took an employee that worked at the manufacturer that I was dealing with with my first business. She was really good. She was like one of our account managers and she was leaving and we had a really good relationship and she was like, you know, I just wanna let you know that I'm leaving and I was like,

Tiffini Gatlin

wait where are you going? And she was like, I think I'm just gonna you know, maybe try to start something on my own. And then I asked her what she come and work with

Tiffini Gatlin

me because I needed someone who understood what I was doing. I needed an inside person. I really needed her to help me to continue to

Tiffini Gatlin

navigate the

Tiffini Gatlin

space in china. And so she said we'll try it out and here we, here we are, you know, five years later. And you know, she's like one of I would, you know, right now, she she's like family

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

to me, you know, that's good. So what are the things that she's helping you navigate that might be difficult for someone who's doing it from this

Tiffini Gatlin

end in the U. S. Yeah. So she's responsible for helping us to find original manufacturers

Tiffini Gatlin

who deal with original design. So any time we're bringing a product to market, typically I'm designing something, I'm sending them the prototype and then I need it made. And so what's really important to me is diversifying our manufacturers because I never want a situation where all of our products are made in the same place in the

Tiffini Gatlin

event that

Tiffini Gatlin

they shut down. You know, something happens. Like I want to just know that I can go to another manufacturer and they're producing a product. And even if I have to add a new product, they're used to the way that we're creating products. So they know how we expect our product, the end result to be in our product. So her job is to find the manufacturers that we can work with, who would take our specifications and create products. She is responsible for pricing. It's really difficult as a black woman to try to negotiate with the asian market because they automatically want to increase our prices. So when she goes in and she

Tiffini Gatlin

negotiates for us, she's negotiating, you know, with

Tiffini Gatlin

someone that looks like her and so they're not, you know, they're not

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

inflating the prices. They know she's

Tiffini Gatlin

working

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

on your behalf though. No, no, that's definitely a

Tiffini Gatlin

leg up for you then. Yeah, So we definitely keep that now. Typically what I do is after we've worked with the manufacturer for a few years, obviously we want to begin to create a more solid relationship and we talk about, you know, exclusivity and creating products that our products are exclusive to us. But we also want to try to lock down the market specifically on certain products. So we're talking to them about, you know, trying to not have themselves those same type of products to someone else if they were to come in because we want products that are exclusive to latch hook. So there is a little bit of undercover that has to happen initially because I want them to see the volume that we're doing and I want them to get so stuck on how

Tiffini Gatlin

much business that we're doing versus getting stuck on who we are initially. Exactly. So she helps us also with the quality control. So before the products actually sent to Atlanta, she inspects all of our products for us to make sure that you know it's the way that we expected to

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

be when it gets here, Okay, so that's the manufacturing side of things and clearly you already knew how it worked and you were able to implement it. But now as you look to grow the company, you've already, as you said, had the experience with growing a social media, following what is your approach now as you're growing

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

this side of the business really into

Tiffini Gatlin

the multimillion

Tiffini Gatlin

dollar level next um Community. You know, community is our key focus without our customers and without the community I do not see us being able

Tiffini Gatlin

to grow into you know, R. R seven and eight figure status our customers is you know

Tiffini Gatlin

they are what makes us you know we shake move become popular. And so it's us creating a strategy

Tiffini Gatlin

and a plan around community and more organic or organic

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

strategic acquisition growth plans. Okay. However, are you using ads? Because I think oh ads in the hair space seem to be very popular, especially if you're using user generated content or doing more of show and tell type of ads. So is that a strategy

Tiffini Gatlin

that you guys are employing? So. Sure. Yeah. It's definitely a strategy that we implemented. However I can say within the last couple of months we've dialed back on our ads been because what I really wanted to know is where

Tiffini Gatlin

the ads really as effective as just being able to reach out to our customers

Tiffini Gatlin

In a more organic way. And so what I found like currently right now, 50, of our revenue has come from organic effort, email marketing is really big for us. I use a lot of storytelling, an email to really communicate

Tiffini Gatlin

with our customers and really help them to understand not only our products, so do a lot of education, a lot of empowerment, telling just my story over and over again in different ways and just really helping them to see that. I'm just at the end of the day, I'm just like them. You know, we have issues trying to create resolutions for that.

Tiffini Gatlin

And

Tiffini Gatlin

so whereas yes, hey advertising, you know, it's important. I think for me it's more important for traffic purposes. But I love the organic side because it really allows me to really

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

get to know my customer. So when you say organic, what specifically are you doing

Tiffini Gatlin

to drive that organic traffic? So we have several different ways. One of one of the ways that I really love currently right now is doing customer takeovers and that's where I take over my customers instagram or facebook account. And I talked to their community of friends and family. And I tell them my story and tell them how I started. And I tell them about

Tiffini Gatlin

my products and you know, with

Tiffini Gatlin

hopes that we gained new traffic, new customers who had

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

never heard of us before. I'm definitely barring that one, that's a good

Tiffini Gatlin

one. What's the next one? And then we have other things like I said before, the emails, the text messaging. We have a V. I. P. Club for customers who, who spent over a certain amount. And so I'm more active with that community. We have

Tiffini Gatlin

a customer only facebook group, we have a Park point reward program. We have our business the business side where we really get immersed with our hair stylist and hair salons. And so yeah, those are some of the ways

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

we implement our organic strategy. That's a lot. What is your support

Tiffini Gatlin

structure look like right now? Yeah. So it definitely isn't just me, I definitely can't take credit for that. But you know, to be able to make all these things move, you definitely have to have support staff to be able to navigate this. So you know us having a digital strategist, someone who who operates all of our paid media. So our facebook google ads, those things so they create all of that. I have someone who's over partnerships and collaborations and so her whole job is to strengthen the B two B side. I'm more of the consumer side, the Director consumer side. So I create all the strategy for our Director Consumer strategies

Tiffini Gatlin

fulfillment as a whole, another beast in itself. And we have someone who handles the fulfillment organization and the importing and you know, all of that. So you know being able to to understand how your business moves and you know, and and having the growth strategy like having a growth strategy for me and have been looking at my growth strategy and looking

Tiffini Gatlin

at it by a quarter to understand like how these different strategies over each quarter impacts my

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

whole year is really important. So you did recently and this is at the end of last year receive funding from google startups. And what is that going to mean for your growth? What is it going to help you accomplish as you

Tiffini Gatlin

look to grow your company? So getting the funding from google first of all it let me know that they believed in what we were doing for black women, you know, this was the first time that the biggest tech company in the world has given money to a black founder who is, you know, creating

Tiffini Gatlin

hair extensions for black women. So it really solidify that what we were doing was meaningful and what it's helping us do is, you know, we were able to move into, you know, a really large establishment where we could function appropriately and be able to import our goods and really come up with a really great strategy to be able to, you know, get all of our products in order and ship out within one or two business days,

Tiffini Gatlin

help us develop new products. Um we have some other products that are in the works that we're really

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

excited about coming out with. I'm excited about the scalp massager. I can't

Tiffini Gatlin

wait to try that one. Yes, the scalp, somebody was one of the things that we were able to bring to life with the money that we got

Tiffini Gatlin

from google, you know, hiring more staff and, and more people to really bring my vision to life. Being able to spend more money on, you know, the

Tiffini Gatlin

ads to get more traffic and to increase our role as for that, it

Tiffini Gatlin

just really helped us to get in the position to grow and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

and be attractive to investors. So are you going to be going

Tiffini Gatlin

on a fundraising round now

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

at some point? Yes. Okay, well we'll look forward to that because clearly this is something that we, as black women need and I'm glad the community is rising up to support you. So for anyone who's interested in following your journey as you're growing your business,

Tiffini Gatlin

where can they find you? Sure. So, I mean if you did a quick

Tiffini Gatlin

search of Latched and Hooked, Tiffini Gatlin, there are

Tiffini Gatlin

a plethora of, you know, interviews and articles in this podcast to be one. And but you can also find us at last. You look dot com, you can follow me on any social media platform that Tiffini Gatlin and that's T I F F I N I and yeah, those are the most frequent places that you could find me and I'm very responsive

Tiffini Gatlin

and so I'd love to have a conversation with you want to hit me up on social media,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

whether it's twitter, instagram, facebook, wow, well thank you so much for sharing your

Tiffini Gatlin

story with us today, Tiffany, My pleasure,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

thank you for having me. Hi, Off-Scripters I'm so glad you made it to the end of this episode. If you enjoy listening to our show, please pay it forward by sharing us with your network between episodes. You can find me on instagram are handle is at she's off Script or you can catch up on past episodes at she's off

hey there!

I'm Serwaa, your new business strategist.

I’m a digital business strategy expert, headstrong high achiever, mom of two girls and wife to a strapping African man.

Embracing these facets of my life has been the key to breaking through my plateaus!

hey there
steal it

Every Expert Needs a Personal Brand. Not Sure Where To Start?

Steal my playbook! In the age of social media, it’s not enough to expect your product or service to speak for itself. Whether you’re a corporate queen, side hustler or entrepreneur, you need a brand that creates trust with your audience.