How This Celebrity Stylist Took Her Behind-the-Chair Skills to Create an Innovative Beauty Brand
Business Career Entrepreneurship Fashion & Beauty

How This Celebrity Stylist Took Her Behind-the-Chair Skills to Create an Innovative Beauty Brand

(Image: Courtesy of LeAna McKnight)

LeAna McKnight is the founder of the award-winning, extensions, wig and weave brand, SL Raw Virgin Hair — one of the few hair companies that produces its own premium hair extensions at source.

Since its launch, SL Raw Virgin Hair has grown tremendously — with over 500% growth from 2020–2021. Not only is LeAna a founder but also a former celebrity stylist, salon owner and now as of 2022 she’s an inventor with two patents under her name.

To say LeAna wears all the hats is an understatement. She is the true epitome of an entrepreneur who never stops pushing to be better and is involved in every aspect of her business from the product and lifestyle photography, to ensuring each customer request gets answered in a timely fashion, and so much more.

We asked LeAna what inspired her to dive headfirst in the hair business and her answer surprised us, “I told pretty much every person I’ve ever encountered that I was going to be a dentist.” Always dreaming of becoming a dentist, LeAna enrolled in dental school. However, the financial burden was too much and having to take care of her father, she dropped out. One who likes to work with her hands and people, LeAna explored a new career path — hair. With the goal of moving her way up the ladder she started at the shampoo sink with the hopes of becoming a stylist and with hard work, dedication, and a covetable set of skills LeAna grew to become the top celebrity hairstylist for Hollywood stars such as Ari Lennox, Deborah Cox, and Zuri Hall to name a few.

“My love for my clients inspired me to launch SL Raw Virgin Hair. Being able to see firsthand how my skills and attention to detail seem to make my clients so happy.”

LeAna saw a gap in the wigs and extensions market based on her experience with her clients. She noticed that customers were wasting a lot of money on extensions that were low quality, while claiming to be human hair. This propelled LeAna’s search to find the best raw human hair and thus SL Raw Virgin Hair was born.

SL Raw Virgin Hair prides itself in being 100% transparent about where the hair comes from and how the hair is sourced. This transparency has set the company apart from other hair extension and wig brands and has built complete trust and loyalty from the SL Raw Virgin Hair customer. The brand’s award-winning luxury I-Tips are another key factor that sets the brand apart, “Our I-tips are unmatched with any other brand on the market” LeAna states.

“Customers love and appreciate our luxury I-tip hair products because they allow them to achieve a much fuller hair look without being weighed down with braids and glues.”

LeAna has overcome many hardships during the launch of her company. SL Raw Virgin Hair saw exponential growth amid the pandemic, due to the increase in online shopping. To keep up with the demand, LeAna and her husband personally dropped off all orders at the post office, to ensure they continued the great customer service the company continues to be known for.

We asked LeAna what advice she would give to other aspiring entrepreneurs, when starting their own business:

“Whenever I speak to aspiring entrepreneurs, I always say it’s important to be spiritually grounded. The road to entrepreneurship can be an emotional roller coaster. In business, you’ll have good days and some bad days, but it will be your faith that will strengthen you through.”

“I suggest always choosing a service/product that you show great passion in, this way you’ll be able to withstand the tasks that are needed to get your vision to become a reality. Remember, things will not always line up just right, but don’t let that discourage you. If you have an idea, try and make the best out of what you have, and don’t make excuses for what you lack. I find that the best ideas come from people with little resources.”

“Always have a business plan for where you want your business to be in two to five, or 10 years. Never stop learning and always research. The research will be your best friend when it comes to setting yourself apart from other businesses. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself — take entrepreneur courses, marketing classes, and any other course that will add value to you and your business.”

“Lastly, enjoy the process and celebrate every win no matter how small or big.”


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