Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! I’m Diane German, the owner of Hair Fetish LLC. I’m a licensed cosmetologist of four years and a salon owner of two. I style children, adults, and celebrities. I also have a product line ‘Agape Fetish’ in which I supply luxury silk bonnets, styling combs, the best edge control in south Florida, and more. As of 2020, my business has made over 90k.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
For as long as I can remember, there was always something about hairstyling that intrigued me. I started out styling my baby dolls and then on to my friends. My mother saw how much I loved it so she invested in my first salon chair. I couldn't have been any older than 13 with clients in mom’s living room. I got better as I got older and the passion grew steadily as well. I was able to purchase my first used cash car at 16.
Hair Fetish came about in 2011. I registered the name with the state of Florida in 2012. At that time I added a DBA (Doing Business As), Agape Fetish along with the registration of Hair Fetish. Initially, I was indecisive about the name I wanted so that's what led me to both. The word agape meant a lot to me for its biblical context “the perfect love” of God.
Straight out of high school I attended Mcfatter Technical Institute where I began studying to become a nurse. Unfortunately, I failed the entrance exam by two points. So I decided, hey let me try pursuing hair. I attended Atlantic Technical Institute in 2007. I took up cosmetology which was a year-long program. Unfortunately two months before completion, I was expelled from school. I was devastated and at that moment it seemed as if my passion and determination came to a halt.
During this time I picked up a few jobs here and there. I went on to work as an after school counselor until I got a more stable job as an EVS (Environmental Service) worker. I cleaned the rooms, toilets, offices, beds, and other areas as needed. I held this job for about two years until I was pregnant with my second son. In 2014 a year after his birth I got a position with the school board but this time as an assistant director for the YMCA. I stayed for a year until I put in my resignation.
I felt so unsettled for not finishing cosmetology school and I built up enough courage to try it again. In 2016 I enrolled at Beauty Anatomy Institute where I continued my cosmetology journey. Luckily some of my hours were honored so I didn't have to do a full year. At this time my son was a toddler. There were occasions where I brought him to school with me. I couldn't see myself giving up again or failing, so I had to make it work.
I would definitely consider Beauty Anatomy to be a top tier institute because it was the only cultured school that taught variations of styling, etc. The opportunities and experiences we were exposed to seemed endless for me. I had the pleasure of being on the set of multiple celebrity shoots where I provided makeup services as well as being a part of the video shoot itself. I was initially nervous, but it was a cool experience. I would say that opened up a level of confidence I wasn't aware of. After graduating, opportunities kept flowing so constantly that it became a part of my life. In total, I have styled over 25 celebrities including their children.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Owning my salon for the past two years has topped the charts because that was never in my vision. I always thought it to be a hard task. I can honestly say that it was the best decision that I’ve made. My salon is very chic and classy and I only cater to one client at a time. It’s definitely a luxury to have a private salon, especially during these Covid times.
I’ve incorporated Agape Fetish within Hair Fetish because one supports the other. My goal is to provide top of the line products as well as top of the line services.
When I designed my first product, I thought about the needs of my clients first. What they required for their at-home care, and how I could provide a product that was long-lasting and authentic. I knew that most people were concerned about the longevity and upkeep of their style, so I thought the bonnets would be a great way to help. But not just any bonnets, Mulberry Silk Bonnets… and no they are not at all satin. I researched every product I released before releasing it. I needed to make sure the quality was up to par.
The second product I released was edge control. Of course, that was important to have because that's a product I use daily to style my clients, and who doesn't want something to tame those edges. I went through different trials with numerous companies doing a process of elimination, so I could guarantee my products were the best. I'm still in search of a few more products but in due time.
My logo for Agape Fetish is its name surrounded by a heart because again agape means the perfect love of…. Fetish; whatever your fetish maybe. I chose to use this name for the product line because I plan on expanding to other things outside of the beauty industry.
One of my biggest accomplishments in 2020 was getting Agape Fetish trademarked. I believe that exudes a different level of ownership obviously by law, as well as displaying authenticity to my consumers.
Describe the process of launching the business.
With the launching of Agape Fetish, I hired a marketing and branding consultant with who I am currently working. I’m still new to this process but it is working out so far. I've also launched my first commercial shoot in November 2020, which was a big deal for me. This launch was about 6 grand in total. It took time and preparation and a great team to make my vision come to life. I would agree my team smashed it. The online consumers are still scattered but I know that will change by continuing to do the groundwork. I've made my hair/ salon business reputable. The same will take place for Agape Fetish to exceed and flourish to its maximum potential. It's rather exciting to witness.
A lot of planning goes into creating, so you have to be structured for sure and optimistic because things will not always go as planned. In that case, you may need to improvise.
With Agape Fetish and Hair Fetish, I have to find the balance to put out equal effort in both businesses, or maybe it's time to hire an assistant lol. I am nonetheless thankful because the businesses are actively growing on both ends.
In growing your business it's important to remain active on your platforms so the viewers never forget who you are. This year I’ve already started brainstorming on ideas on how to draw my consumers in quarterly, with SEO and marketing/ networking strategies set in place. So for me, it's about being more intentional personally (getting my mind ready) so that it branches off into business intent.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As of now, the majority of my sales are through brick and mortar but again the progress of online sales will definitely become more profitable this year. Great quality means forever customers.
Allow yourself room to make mistakes so that you can learn effectively. Research is a must and it's ok to not know everything.
In the years to come, I will incorporate my own organic hair care line within Agape Fetish as well as children’s clothing and accessories. It will be the ultimate one-stop-shop!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through starting this business I’ve learned that research is a must, and if you’re unsure about something, it's vital to seek help if needed. You have to be ok with the idea of not initially making a profit, thus taking a loss or few before you hit your money maker. Why - because scared money doesn’t make any money! And in business, you will lose before you gain.
I also learned that if you are more strategic, timely, organized, and disciplined, you will move along a lot smoother in your process. Keeping up with trends and creating your own trends are important. I’m learning to jot things down as they come, so I can revisit them on my downtime when my mind is settled. I found that to be a helpful habit for me. I’ve learned that determination and perseverance will carry you when you trust and believe in yourself.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Currently, I use Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and Wix to promote my businesses. Instagram has been the most helpful so far, but I can see Wix taking over on the Agape Fetish side because it offers a variety of marketing options that you can use to grow your profit return and audience. Wix has email tools, social media, and productivity tools that I foresee being extremely beneficial to my company.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book along this journey has been Uncloned Marketing by Audria Richmond. Her business journey has been remarkable and I find it important to have people or business influencers to mirror especially when you are unsure of the how. Audria has various books but this one spoke to me because I used it as a guideline to launch my commercial shoot. She discusses mainly being authentic with your brand and finding ways in making your product stand out. She definitely dropped many gems even into self-building.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
My advice to other entrepreneurs would be to focus on one task at a time. Sometimes overloading the brain can cloud your vision and will allow you to miss out on key elements for a specific project. Pace yourself, be optimistic, strategize, and plan as best as you can. But also allow yourself room to make mistakes so that you can learn effectively. Research is a must and it's ok to not know everything. I gained inspiration from fellow business owners on social media by watching their journey. Basically, find someone or something that motivates you to keep on excelling if that is needed.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am not in search of hiring anyone at the time, although I may consider hiring an assistant to help with some of my workloads.
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