Virgin StartUp: Violet Jay
Have you heard about the rise of accidental entrepreneurs? Our latest Virgin StartUp business could be a good example of this. Violet founded Violet Jay after she started selling hair extensions to a few products to friends. Demand for her services exploded and next thing she was running an awesome business and Virgin StartUp were happy to help her grow it.
Location: Greater London
Violet Jay is a start-up that will sell ethically sourced hair and beauty products from all over the world. Human hair extensions from Brazil, Peru and Russia and Argan oil from Morocco to develop a line of organic skin and hair cosmetics.
What's the business model?
Violet Jay will supply hair and beauty products to salons as a supplier. The target end users are females between the ages of 18 and 45 who want to purchase quality, authentic human hair extensions and organic products.
Violet Jay will operate on-line as an interactive site where customers will be able to view the product catalogue, ask questions on an online forum which will be answered by myself or a trained professional. Consumers will also be able to upload photos of themselves wearing the product for others to view and comment and add tips. The website will also feature a blogging page with links to a Youtube channel as well as other social media profiles with hair care advice and beauty tips.
Who are your competitors?
Great Lengths, Whitney Marie, Virgin Manes, Allure Hair Extensions, Russian Gold
What's your USP?
My USP is me. I named my business after myself because it was founded on my core values and my passion.
Being an ethical and sustainable business is paramount to my business and will be, what I believe, the reason for my success.
In having a transparent supply chain my consumers will know where the hair extensions purchased are coming from and what benefits their purchase provide for the donors.
Where did the idea come from?
During the summer of 2012 I bought myself, what I felt were some very expensive human hair extensions for the first time. It felt and looked amazing and I started getting requests from friends and family to make purchases for them also. The word got out that ‘Violet sells hair’, and customers came from all over London and soon after Bedford and Manchester.
A couple months later I decided that I should pursue this and start a company after my degree. I was invited to share my business idea on a panel of successful business women who would in turn give useful advice on the business ideas. It was at this event that I received the most useful advice and one question that changed my whole outlook and thus Violet Jay had evolved. “If these women have such beautiful hair, why would they sell it?” This question bothered me for days until I finally researched and discovered the exploitation of women in this industry.
My standards had then been set and it is now my aim to expose the trade and set an example for fair trade in the hair and beauty industry.
How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?
How are you going to use the money to grow your business?
The funds will be used for branding, marketing and advertising. This includes professional packaging designs, brochures and marketing materials. I will also developing the argan oil based hair and beauty product range from home so the funds will help with costs of training, certification and equipment purchases.
Who’s your Virgin StartUp mentor?
What challenge are they helping you overcome?
Having a mentor has the best part about being a Virgin StartUp entrepreneur. Michelle was matched to my business need and she has a wealth of knowledge in sales, marketing and branding, the areas which I am currently struggling with.
She has been my biggest fan so far and without her and being backed by virgin startups I think I would have given up by now.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
- “Don’t be afraid to fail, the lessons learnt can be the key to future success”
- “As an entrepreneur the journey makes the destination more rewarding”
What’s your workspace like?
I’m still working from the dining room in my dad’s house, and always in the way at meal times.
Where will your business be in 12 month’s time?
In the next year I plan to be supplying salons across the UK with my products. I also plan to start working on my next project which is a mobile hair extension fitting service.