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.
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.