Working as a licensed practical nurse since the age of 19, Latoiya Roland recognized her passion early. With aspirations of one day owning her own nursing home, she never thought she would one day be a beauty entrepreneur and the owner and CEO of the popular beauty and hair extensions brand, I WEAR GLAM— worn on the red carpet by celebrities Taraji P. Henson, and most recently by singer Rihanna, on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine.
The 23 year old Detroit native, says among friends, she was always known for the hair extensions she wore, as a part of her signature “look”, and that friends, seeking to Glam up their style, frequently turned to her for beauty tips and tricks— so when Roland began searching for an additional income idea, her hair hobby seemed like the natural way to go.
Black Enterprise caught up with Roland to find out how she turned her casual hair consulting hobby and personal style into the growing beauty “empire”, that led her to leave her first passion of nursing behind.
Tell me a little about yourself?
I am 23 years old and I’m the owner and CEO of I WEAR GLAM beauty brand. I’m from Detroit, MI, born and raised. Originally, before my journey into entrepreneurship, I was a Licensed Practical Nurse, since the age of 19. About three years into my career I decided to launch “I WEAR GLAM” just to bring in a little extra income.
What made you want to venture into the hair industry?
I decided to go into the hair business because I am definitely a hair guru. Everyone who knows me knows me for wearing very long extravagant extensions. I have been wearing extensions for years, so it has always been a part of my look. I would get calls everyday of people asking me where could they purchase hair extensions, what lengths they should get, colors etc. So as I sat down and thought about it I was like hey, I am pretty much becoming everyone’s hair consultant so why not start a hair business.
Starting a business takes detailed work. How did you get started?
Starting was very hard, because the hair market today is over saturated, so you have to market and brand your company to make people want to shop with your brand vs another. I sat down and tried out various distributors and vendors and found one that I loved, that would represent me and my brand. And that’s where it all started. Of course I wanted it to grow into a big company, but never did I think it would grow into a half million dollar company in just one year. I started the company last year March 2014.
How did you fund the capital for the business?
I didn’t have to take out any loans or funding. When I started, I simply used every dollar I made from the business and put it back into the business. I didn’t take out any profits or anything. Every profit I made I put it into my business to make it bigger and better.
How do you remain competitive in a saturated market?
Being the CEO of, I WEAR GLAM, I am always thinking of new ideas and branding techniques to make my beauty empire stand out from others. I’m always thinking of fun and different ways to draw my customers in whether it’s releasing new products, hosting or having an event, or just interacting with the companies Instagram followers.
What was it like leaving your career in nursing? How did you come to that decision?
Leaving my career in nursing was nothing I ever seen myself doing, and I tried to hold out as long as possible, but my business became so successful that it was impossible for me to run the business and work a 9-5. As successful as the business became, it demanded more and more of my time. I do miss nursing as a career but I have neglected it.
What was your big aha moment?
My big aha moment for I WEAR GLAM, probably would have been opening my first location not even a year within being a business. That was definitely a big moment for my company. I couldn’t believe how successful the company had become in literally months and to have been able to open my first location without the help of any banks loans or funding.
What were some of your biggest fears during your time of transition? How did you overcome those fears?
Some of my biggest fears, was my business failing. It’s not to often that you hear of someone leaving their career and going off and starting a successful business. I was honestly scared that once I left my career behind, that my business would start failing, but I think it was just me being to hard on myself. As soon as I decided to leave my career my business really began to grow rapidly. I am always hard on myself when it comes to my business, thinking of what if, but I have and always keep faith in God. Overthinking definitely gets me.
I WEAR GLAM is set to launch the highly anticipated, Trina Rockstarr Collection, a collaboration between the brand and platinum-selling rap star Trina, in addition to opening the flagship location in the Detroit area, late April.
For additional information , visit IWEARGLAM.CO and stay in touch with Latoyia’s glam brand on Instagram @IWEARGLAM.