In 2010, Vivian Kaye was looking to solve a common problem faced by many women within the natural hair community: How to do protective style options such as weave and wig options that match kinky, curly, and Afro-textured hair.
Today, she is the founder of KinkyCurlyYaki, a natural hair extension brand, featuring six textures ranging from sleek to straight to kinky and tight curl patterns. The Canada-based company sells wigs, wefted hair for sew-ins, clip-in extensions, frontals, closures, Ghanaian head wraps, and they also create custom products for clients.(Vivian Kaye, Founder & CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki. Image: Vivian Kaye)
We caught up with Kaye to learn more about her entrepreneurial approach to turning a side hustle into a seven-figure business with no experience.
How did you know you were ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship full time?
Initially, I ran both my wedding decor business and KinkyCurlyYaki side by side because KCY was never supposed to become a business. I started out doing it for myself and then started filling small orders for women who reached out to me personally. One day, I had a stack of orders for KinkyCurlyYaki products sitting in front of me, I realized there was a huge market for this kind of product. If I didn’t pursue it I would regret it later, so I went for it.(Issa Rae in KinkyCurlyYaki. Image: Courtesy of Vivian Kaye)
Initially, you didn’t have any experience in the beauty industry. What did you do to learn more about the beauty business?
I joined forums, hair and beauty groups, and manufacturing and e-commerce clubs to learn as much as I could. Now, every time we decide to try something new or build on a new technology it’s like having to start from scratch all over again.
Talk to other people in the business. Many times we’re scared to talk about what we’re working on or to ask people questions because we fear that someone will steal our ideas or turn us away. And yes, both of those things may happen but you can’t be afraid of that. You have to put yourself out there, build relationships and talk with others who’ve experienced success in your market or in a similar space.
What self-limiting beliefs did you need to let go of to get to the next level in business?
In the beginning, I thought I didn’t belong in the beauty industry because I didn’t have a degree or any experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of what a CEO or successful executive is supposed to look like, but my advice to others is to just ‘do you’ and embrace the path you’ve chosen. You can change the definition of what success is and what it looks like.