LaToya F. Dixson is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and marketing executive. LaToya is the owner of I Heart Hair, Inc. (www.ihearthair.com), a flourishing luxury hair extension business that has become one of the fastest growing hair distributors in the industry. Her motivation stems from her mother and other strong women, such as Mellody Hobson, who pushed through tough barriers to carve paths as a successful black business woman. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, LaToya knew at an early age that she was destined to become her own boss and became committed to making that happen. She feels she’s at the brink of her career and has a passion to help women and youth. LaToya believes in her purpose and has committed to telling her story to inspire and motivate the masses. Read our interview with the lovely LaToya below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I was inspired to start I Heart Hair as I was working in Corporate America at a television network that was laying off our entire team and I thought, I need to start my own business in something that I loved… and I loved hair! I went to a friend and we put together the idea, invested our own money and decided to buy some hair. Once we received the hair, we tested several textures and found some that we loved – then the business started. From there we were off, still working full time jobs but the journey was super exciting and fun to see the business furnish through the ups and downs to what it is today.
Tell us about your business.
I Heart Hair, Inc., is a 100% virgin hair retailer and distributor specializing in bundles, closures, frontals, wig units and more.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
We have promotions and sales periodically, however we always have bundle deals, stylist and wholesale programs that offer great discounts on our products.
Where is your business based?
My business is based out of Atlanta, GA, with a store in Atlanta as well in Jacksonville, FL.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first steps were figuring out exactly what I wanted to offer and how I wanted the brand to feel to customers. Since I was a wearer of hair extensions and dealing with rough customer service and lackluster product, I focused on these things. Starting the business with personal capital was also very important at the start.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Social media and my personal circle of friends and family – using their word of mouth helped tremendously. Hairstylists play a very important role in my business, they are the ones that are working directly with the product and if you can get them on your team then that’s another door into clientele.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Financing this brand and business has been the biggest challenge in trying to expand the brand.
How did you overcome these challenges?
This is always a work in progress for any business owner, small or large. You can receive the funding you need and blow it or you can receive the fund and your business takes a hit like mine did. You have to then make some serious decisions that can affect your lifespan of your brand.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Great question, right now I’m going through a rough time in my business and life. Overwhelmed with a lot of things concerning the lifespan of the business, however I stay grounded in my Bible and devotions. If it wasn’t for God and having the faith of a mustard seed, I’d probably be out of business.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We pride ourselves on not only great products but on amazing customer service. It goes a very long way in the hair industry, we are your girlfriends and we want you to ask all the questions you need to make an educated decision about your investment into my brand.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice that I’ve recently received is “don’t allow pride and shame be your destruction.” I say this because there’s been so much going on in my business that it’s really been extremely hard to get this interview out of myself. As I’m writing these thoughts, I’ve had to come to peace with a major decision to close one of my store locations to better my brand and free up revenue to reinvest in my dream. It’s taken me a while because I continued to fight God in making this decision however I’ve been able to sleep at night since I’ve come to peace with it. There are days that I cry about it and then there are times when I know I’ve accomplished what God had in-store for the location and the young women that have worked for me.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Get you some great people around you, believe in yourself, and go after what you want even in times of doubt. It’s ok to press restart… sometimes that second or third try will be your win.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
God! I read every day and ask for guidance, wisdom and strength to keep moving in the purpose He has for my life. I also attend webinars, read tons of articles from Forbes to Black Enterprise. I tap into my mentors and small business circle. There’s not just one resource I can suggest because it takes a combination of things to make you successful in your own lane.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @ihearthairinc and @imlatoya
Twitter @ihearthairinc and @imlatoyatweets
Hashtags #ihearthairinc #truehairloverswanted #ihearthair
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I read books over and over again so three great books that I would recommend are “The Shack,” “Who Moved My Cheese” and “The Alchemist.” Also, I’m an avid reader of my Bible and devotional books…my current devotional book is “More Than Conquerors”, however I have several I turn to daily.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m currently and always learning that entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. You have high seasons and low seasons. Keeping God first and having great mentors and other business owners around me, help me get through anything. Currently, I’m looking for capital to expand my brand; it’s been really hard to secure the financing I need to keep growing my brand. I’ve had to really sit down with my accountant to make sure that I’m cutting the small business.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goals for the next few months is to buckle down and refocus, rebuild my support team, allow God to continue leading me to peace and for my brand to get back to the basics of having great products and amazing customer service.