Nakia Vestal Escaped Human Trafficking As A Teen And Built Her Business With $400

Nakia Vestal Escaped Human Trafficking As A Teen And Built Her Business With $400

Entrepreneur Nakia Vestal is the definition of the American dream. After escaping human trafficking as a teen, she began working in beauty salons.

After gaining experience, Vestal tried to branch out but found the job opportunities available to her lacking. So she founded DollMaker Lashes, a beauty studio in Houston offering eyelash extensions.

According to CNBC, Vestal began by building her client base by working from home. Through hard work and determination, she built it into a full-service studio with a product line.

“I started with just a lash bed and my tools that I needed,” she told the network. “And I didn’t have any marketing,” Vestal said. “Everything was word of mouth. I started from home in my dining room.”

Vestal’s business, like the hair and beauty industry as a whole, took a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept beauty salons and barbershops closed for months. Vestal was able to keep her business afloat through a $10,000 grant from Verizon’s Digital Ready program, which Vestal said allowed her to not just survive the pandemic but expand.

Vestal said a bevy of financial options exist to help those who want to start a small business and fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.

“There’s resources, there’s crowdfunding, there’s small business loans,” she said. “Especially ones that are in under-resourced communities, minority businesses, veteran businesses, Black business owners, and minority business owners.”

Vestal also pointed to social media, which she called “free marketing,” as a way for small business owners and entrepreneurs to push their products for free while growing a customer base through engagement and conversation.

“You have Facebook, you have Instagram, now you have TikTok. These are free tools you can use to really target whatever audience you’re trying to get,” Vestal told CNBC.

The beauty shop owner added that entrepreneurs can use the internet as a free resource. For instance, YouTube has a variety of resources, including free courses, virtual mentors, financial and entrepreneurial advice, and networking events. You can even search for other businessmen and women in your demographic and area.