How a Girly Girl Made $1 Million Selling Hair Extensions by Age 25

Have you ever thought about starting your own business but thought, I can’t do this alone, I don’t have the money for it, and I’ll probably fail?

Then you haven’t heard of Toi Leonnah, the 25-year-old founder and CEO of luxury hair and lifestyle brand I Wear Glam.

Toi started her company when she was a full-time nurse. She went from being a local Detroit-based company to a nationally recognized brand that has been seen on Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Serena Williams and many more.

Toi started her company on her own and opened her own storefront eight months later. If you have ever thought of doing something on your own but have a fear of doing it independently, check out the interview below.

What made you interested in the hair industry?

What made me interested in the hair industry was that I always loved long hair extensions. I also always kept my hair done, and everyone who knew me knew that. People would always come to me asking me what kind of hair extensions do I wear and I would always tell them, until one day I realized I was promoting other people’s brand and making them sales and money so why not start my own? So that’s what started me into the hair industry.

Why did you decide to start working for yourself?

I decided to start working for myself once I put my mind to it that I could do it. I was a nurse at the age of 19, and had a career in nursing all the way to the age of 23. I decided to work for myself once I seen that I had such a creative mind and that people started to love what I was doing. I eventually got comfortable enough to take a chance to leave my career and give the self employment opportunity a try and it definitely worked out for me.

What was some of your biggest obstacles when starting your own business?

My biggest obstacles starting my own business was how was I going to get my consumers to buy. What would make them notice me? What would make them want to buy from me? What would make me stand out and be different from the other hair companies? I really had to put much thought into branding and marketing to start up my business to get people to follow my movement to create the revenue I wanted to generate.

Why did you chose to be completely independent instead of having investors or a business partner?

I chose to be completely independent due to the fact I knew I had a love for hair and I knew I wanted my company to represent who I am. You can’t really make other people see your vision up front, so I wanted to do everything alone and make sure everything was exactly what I liked and wanted and not having to come to agreements with partners etc.

What do you pride yourself on as a CEO?

Being a CEO, I pride myself on my work ethic and my creativity. I am always working and thinking about I Wear Glam! Whether I am driving, shopping at a store, I am always thinking of new and creative things for my company. I definitely also pride myself in the way I brand and market. That is a big reason why I am where I am today.

When you first started, what are some things you did to get people to choose your company?

When I first started, to get people to choose my company, I would make all of my advertisement and post very chic, GLAM and girly. Everything was always pink and definitely eye catching. I branded very well to make people want to purchase. My pink satin hair bags were a big part of starting. Everyone loved them, some people would even say the bag is what convinced them to purchase. Girls love girly things, so I made sure to brand in a eye catching girly way. I also made sure to of course showcase the hair extensions in glam ways to get the attention of consumers.

What made you decide to take your online hair company to a store front?

I decided to take my company to a store front because online was growing so much and I had so many locals interested in purchasing same day. To be honest, I signed my lease for my store 8 months after opening online and boy was I extremely nervous. At that time I wasn’t ready for a location but I had faith in myself and my company that I could make it work, and I did.

What are some tips you have for success?

Tips I have for my success are to always be unique, be different, and think about your consumers. Think about how you market your product and what would make them want to buy or make them not want to buy. You also have to be CREATIVE in the hair industry. The hair industry is very over saturated, but your creativity as well as quality of your product is what makes you stand out from the rest. To be successful you need to brand and market properly, or have someone else do so for you.

What are some things as a minority business women you think other minority business owners need to know when deciding to start their own company?

I think women need to know, not to give up and to keep pushing. It’ll be hard in the beginning but with dedication it’ll get easier. At first with starting a business you’ll feel alone, and today we live in such a cold and jealous world people won’t want to help you, and thats okay, but when you’re dedicated, you will get it done, ALWAYS. Also I would say take advantage of your surroundings and network. Reach out to people, let them know who you are and what you do. You definitely have to use your resources and if you don’t have any, FIND SOME!

How long did you reach your first million dollars?

It took me about a year and a few months to make a solid gross million.

What motivates you to keep going and not stop now that you’ve hit that benchmark?

Although my business made a million dollars, I am still motivated because I love what I do and I want to of course make more money. Sometimes by being successful, I do get a little sidetracked and I’ll feel as if I get content (just sometimes) and will push myself to do more and get more creativity to attract more customers and a bigger following.

What are your future goals and goals for I Wear Glam?

Future goals for myself and my company is to grow a larger following. One day I would love for Beyonce to wear my hair extensions. Also in the future I would like to expand. I would like to expand and have a chain of beauty and pamper bars underneath the I Wear Glam brand.

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