At what stage of your life did you decide to become an entrepreneur and create a UK black hair marketplace?
At the end of my 20s. I knew I wanted to start something of my own. I wasn’t happy in my job and the roles I was looking at applying for, were not appealing to my creativity. That’s where the idea for the UK black hair marketplace came from.
How did you develop your business idea, and what inspired you to proceed?
My entrepreneurial journey was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protest in 2016. I couldn’t attend. However, my actions were to shop with black-owned businesses as much as possible. I started writing for my personal blog Melanin Mind & Soul. This was the platform that I used to share my inspiration with others and how we can support black-owned businesses, particularly in the UK.
The blog, as well as allowing me to leave my comfort zone, it also presented a lot of opportunities. I met some inspirational people whilst improving my skills as a blogger through the Black British Bloggers Network.
There was something inside me that wanted to start a business to support my community. On my mom’s girls trip to Dubai for her birthday, we got talking about the black women and hair care. The standards of buying are not high enough on the high street.
As well as being conscious about supporting my community. I am also health-conscious. I passionately care about natural ingredients, especially when it comes to hair care. In 2011 my hair relaxer was so harsh, it destroyed my hair. After that, I decided to re-learn my natural hair texture. This incident and my holistic health journey led me to launch the Hair Popp marketplace in 2018.
A few years ago, I challenged myself to shop black only, for a month. It was so challenging to find all of the places where black people are not represented in business. For example, petrol stations, pharmacists, and hair retailers. I started to come across so many hair care brands that are able to offer black women and children and better service, knowledge and offer natural ingredients in products. When black women talk about the challenges and opportunities around hair care, it always goes deeper than our tresses. It’s a lot deeper. Also, were business and hair care is concerned, the issues are deep-rooted.
What steps do you take to market Hair Popp and to make people aware of your brand?
Marketing is serious when running a business. We do a lot of market research and social media is the biggest approach to marketing the business. This is how we find our customers. Even knowing where we can meet them IRL at events, we still find out on social media. Personally, I look at trends on social media and listen to the conversations that I have with people IRL that are our target audience.
I come up with goals with my accountability partners, mentors, coach and my business advisor. Then we put together actions to achieve the goals that have been agreed. This is what I would call business development, which is key to knowing what steps to take to make people aware of this UK black hair marketplace.
What is your personal secret to developing healthy business habits that support you to stay on track?
Prayer, meditation and exercise are my personal secrets for healthy business habits. As Hair Popp develops, it is easy to forget Dominique as an individual. So, I constantly remind myself to take care of myself. A lot of the time, it can be overwhelming once a creative beast has been unleashed because it is exciting and I want us to achieve so much.
Personally, when I get overwhelmed, I take time to pray. Meditation is important for silencing the noise. When I’m in Nevis, I get up before sunrise, I run to a beach and I meditate. This helps to still the noise of the long to-do list. It gives me clarity and allows me to refocus and show my gratitude for where I am in that present moment and in my life.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced on your journey so far and what steps did you take to overcome it?
Trying to do everything alone and trying to do everything at once. Often, I find myself just taking a step back and reflecting on the direction Hair Popp is going. Most of the time, this comes down to effective planning and organisation. When I prioritise and plan my days, I don’t give away my time to meet other people’s priorities. Therefore, I become more productive and deliver against my goals.
Where do you see your business in the next five to ten years from now?
Hair Popp is going to be the UK black hair marketplace, the connector that enables people to have hair that looks great, is healthy and loved. We will constantly engage with our customers. Our online hub will deliver an online collection of products and services. We will connect hair enthusiasts with brands, products and education. A strong focus is to build relationships with UK brands, who know and understand healthy hair care. All of this, whilst making it easier and more convenient to shop for hair care, online.
What’s the best business advice you have received and how did it positively impact you and your business?
My business coach Adam Brooks said, “don’t build your own tower, by knocking down someone else’s”. There is enough room for us all. Even where people are doing similar things, there are always opportunities for collaboration.
One of the most exciting things I have done in my business was?
Grow a small team. I have all of these big ideas and often get overwhelmed by how much I want to grow and scale Hair Popp. So, I organised an assessment day at my co-working space. This was to recruit interns to join us in return for work experience. I asked some of Birmingham’s haircare brands and local black-owned business owners to assess the scenarios. The event was great, not only got some fantastic applicants but also the business owners who supported the assessment were very supportive. A few people even asked me to help them with a similar event for their own businesses, which I’m excited about.
When I feel discouraged I tend to?
Stop. Take a break. Talk to people who I can positively vibrate with. I’m quite fortunate to have a great circle of friends and family who think like me and can see when I’m becoming overwhelmed about the business. Your network is your net worth, this is not true just for making an income but for your emotional wellbeing which to me, has a higher value than finance.
If I could start all over again I would
Start a team much earlier. Also, join an accountability group early on.
My favourite business app/tool is?
The How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz – I get a lot of inspiration from listening to the podcasts because every entrepreneur has a different journey to success.
Buffer for business makes social media scheduling a lot more manageable. Also, it measures analytics which is useful for creating future engagement.
Canva is also great for designing social media posts.
Hubspot is fantastic for managing databases. We have a database of UK haircare brands that we’d like to join the platform.
Asana is another favourite. It’s a great project management tool and it allows me to keep up to date with the team without checking my inbox every few minutes.
Toggl I’m time blocking to achieve tasks. So I block out time to complete actions and use Toggl and the timer on my phone to be disciplined. Discipline equals freedom.
Founder of Hair Popp