This is a follow up story for Private Label Extensions. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m back to give you an update on how we’ve doubled our business since being featured on Starter Story back in January 2020. My name is Mikey Moran, and I’m the founder of Private Label (Previously Private Label Extensions), which is a beauty brand that helps entrepreneurs start, supply, and brand their beauty business. We sell hair extension products, wigs, lashes, hair care, and now cosmetics. We also have the technology side of the business where we also offer websites, hosting, branding, influencer marketing, and two Shopify apps.
Private Label has grown into an 8-Figure Company, owns about $2,000,000 in real estate, and has done so with zero outside funding. I and my team achieved this with a lot of hard work, always focusing on how to improve every aspect of the customer experience, and continuous dedication to education. Private Label has also opened showrooms in Charlotte, Greenville, Detroit, and Lithonia, Atlanta. The lease for showroom #6 has been signed, and I’m currently looking for the perfect location for lucky number seven.
I also recently published a book called Fearless Beauty, which hit #1 on Amazon in five different categories. The book is a must-read for all entrepreneurs! It’s a brutally honest look into being a business owner. The book has become an amazing tool to help open doors to talk about the Private Label brand. I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on multiple podcasts including The Breakfast Club to discuss the book and the business. Even more amazing is the recent recommendation of Entrepreneur Magazine to have Fearless Beauty on every entrepreneurs’ summer reading list. The most high-profile book reviewer in the world, Kirkus Reviews, also gave the book a rave review. Oh, and the Multi-Billionaire John Paul DeJoria even endorsed the book!
It took 15 years of entrepreneurship to finally feel like I’m on the right track. YES, it can take that long!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Private Label and its sister brands have been growing steadily over the past two years. There have been some wins and losses during this time.
We lost a ton of organic traffic when we switched the Private Label website from WordPress to Shopify Plus at the end of 2019. The entire URL structure changed! It’s been a big project fixing everything, and we still have a long way to go. I highly recommend getting on the best platform for your business so you don’t have to make a switch as I did. We needed tighter integration with our Shopify POS system and online store.
Below is a chart with the organic traffic from Private Label. You can see at the beginning of January 2019 when we made the switch to Shopify which caused a downward spiral. No worries though! My new marketing team is working on this, and we’ve already seen a dramatic spike, which isn’t represented in this chart.
There have been a lot of shortages in our industry since Covid-19 hit in early 2020. Because of my manufacturing relationships, we’ve been able to have a steady flow of products. This helped give us an advantage over many competitors when it came to certain sold-out inventories. All my pre-pandemic trips to China paid off this year!
Our “Return Customer Rate” has been around 45% this year, which is up 65% from the year prior. We’ve accomplished this by really focusing on the customer experience from every angle. I’m always looking for ways to improve all aspects of the business by 1%. These small changes are the compound interest that has helped us grow and make our customers happy.
Recently, the team has been focused on growing our YouTube channel. Some of my business colleagues have inspired me as they recently made $10,000 in a month and can’t keep up with all their leads from YouTube. Getting paid to market your business? Yes, that works for me!
My book, Fearless Beauty, has landed me some great PR and opportunities for speaking engagements. Being a guest on many podcasts has been great for the brand’s social proof, getting backlinks to our website, and allowed me to make some new connections with amazing people.
In 2021, we decided to start offering cosmetics. We already have a customer base, and cosmetics are great to upsell products. They generally offer low-cost and high margins. I’m currently looking at additional accessories to add to the product line under the Private Label brand and offer dropshipping for these products under our Dropship Bundles and Dropship Beauty systems.
I’ve been hiring experts in different aspects of our business to help improve what we’re doing. This includes speed optimization, A/B testing, Email marketing, and many more to come. The idea is to have specialists for every aspect of our brand by the end of the year.
Growth is a struggle. It’s just part of the process. It means discomfort, trial and error, and losses - but what you gain in knowledge and experience is priceless for your business.
Giving back to the community has always been a part of our brand, but it’s getting bigger as we continue to grow. This year, I started a scholarship program, which is available on the Bold.org platform. The “Private Label Diversity in Cosmetology Scholarship” was created to help members of the Black community get into the industry, which can be very expensive. In addition, I've given away a new laptop every week to hair entrepreneurs in my Facebook group for starting a hair business.
A never-ending push for growth along with many small wins has helped us grow 40% year over year.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
In the last year, I learned that being prepared has been a huge part of my success. In my first business, CurrySimple, I was crushed during the 2009 downturn. I took my past mistakes and learned to apply them in 2020 when there was so much uncertainty. I was able to make better decisions for the company when faced with incredible obstacles the pandemic presented.
In early 2020, I almost signed a lease on the perfect West Coast showroom/distribution space for our products. I knew Covid-19 was coming to the United States and realized my business didn't need to have this facility at this time. It was better to wait a few months and see what was going to happen with the pandemic and if it was going to hit the U.S. Let me just say, it was a good plan not to pull the trigger on that lease. It would have been a logistical nightmare with attempted travel to the west coast from Atlanta, but I’m re-opening the idea now that things are getting better. The lessons I learned from CurrySimple helped me make smarter decisions for the business.
The last year has reinforced the value and importance of my relationships with suppliers. During a time when many people in the hair industry were running out of inventory, my suppliers, who are an integral part of my team, were on a constant sourcing mission that went above and beyond my expectations. The results were a stocked warehouse, showrooms, and website to supply our current customers as well as new customers that we're searching for hard-to-find products. Sending my manufacturing partners those hard-to-find Kobe’s helped a little too! I continue to focus on building my relationships with every business that is connected to mine.
The past year I have also been obsessed with my calendar and to-do list. This helped me increase my efficiency and get more things done. I just started reading “The Checklist Manifesto” with hopes to have even more guidance to improve my efficiency.
At this point, I’m doing everything I can to learn and implement strategies to improve every aspect of my personal life and business, which includes hiring an expert for help, reading a few books and research on the subject, and trying out new approaches.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Looking into the future, I plan on growing every aspect of my business and brands.
Today, Private Label has five physical showrooms with plans to grow to twenty more within the next few years. My team has been working on creating a template to open the showrooms that continue to improve with each new location. It’s not just about getting the showroom open - that’s now easy. It’s about getting the clients in the door.
There are a lot of opportunities for us to grow our celebrity partnerships as the backend of their brands. We continue to perfect our system for these partnerships to set up both our business and clients for success. The key is communicating the expectations and responsibilities between us and our clients.
Our dropshipping business continues to grow with new products and services. We have a mobile app in development currently to help our clients process their dropship orders and manage their business on the go. I continue to invest in technology that helps our company and clients be successful.
We’ll continue to give back to the community that supports Private Label and its sister brands. The more we reach new levels of success means more opportunities to give back. Success is one hundred times better when you are bringing people up with you!
Next year, I plan on starting my second book that will have strategies focused on growing the businesses of more seasoned entrepreneurs. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting it together and finally have the concept down. It’s going to be a winner!
I also want to grow my YouTube channel to 100,000 subscribers. YouTube’s continuous impact on how we consume media will only grow bigger so I want to focus on this opportunity this year. My channel is growing at a rate of about 10 subscribers a day, which is decent for a new channel. I’ll spend more time figuring out how to increase this rate and probably bring in an expert to help me reach my goal.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I’ve spent a lot of time listening to podcasts over the past year. Education is important to the success of my business and personal growth so I’m always open to continuous learning.
I’m more of an auditory learner so listening to podcasts when driving and walking is my go-to medium. Listening to music can get boring on my commutes so listening to podcasts while driving is a great way to squeeze in learning. I usually walk for an hour each night and listen to a podcast or try to learn Mandarin Chinese via the Pimsleur App.
Here is a list of what I have been listening to lately:
- Noah Kagen Presents
- TubeBuddy Express
- Grow a Small Business
- My First Million
- Hair Biz Radio (This is my podcast but I will sometimes listen to it to see how I can improve)
- Perpetual Traffic
- Social Media Marketing
- Masters of Scale
- Marketing School
- How This Was Built
A few of my recent book purchases include:
- The Service Culture Handbook
- The Checklist Manifesto
- Ecommerce Evolved
- The Patron Way
- Leveling Up
- The Rules of Retail
We live in a time where there’s so much information available to entrepreneurs from the leaders in our industries. I do my best to learn as much from others and see what I can implement into my business. You can always find small tweaks that eventually add up to make bigger impacts on the growth of Private Label and their sister brands.
It’s my job to find those tweaks, implement, analyze, and repeat! Even a 1% tweak can snowball into millions of dollars.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Growth is a struggle. It’s just part of the process. It means discomfort, trial and error, and losses - but what you gain in knowledge and experience is priceless for your business. When you feel stuck, turn to other more experienced entrepreneurs for new ideas and tactics to help you move forward. We’re living in the age of data. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to the endless free knowledge out there, then take advantage! It goes without saying but take advantage of the knowledge and connections the internet, books, and networking can provide.
There’s a lot of theory involved with why customers recognize and buy from your brand. Start learning how things like Facebook Ads, Abandon Cart Emails, SMS messages, YouTube videos, not trying too hard to sell, valuable information in blog posts, and your story work together. Just because you’re amazing at Facebook ads doesn’t mean you are going to be successful. There are hundreds of other factors that have to work together to make your business successful.
I’ve talked to entrepreneurs that think they can just start quickly and hit a home run at their first at-bat of business. It rarely happens. You have to accept this, fail, learn from your mistakes, create systems so the same mistake doesn’t continue to happen, and keep going. Sure - it’s not that simple, but if you focus on the basics you’ll go a long way.
Focus on being great. This is for both your business and personal life. Always try to find ways to be more efficient, make a bigger impact, and celebrate your wins.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I just hired two marketing assistants to help with my daily marketing tasks. This job would’ve been an amazing opportunity I wish I had when I was in my 20’s. As the Private Label brand continues to grow, we will be looking to hire managers and sales associates to help in the showrooms. These are great positions to learn about local sales and marketing.
Staffing is one of the biggest challenges I see moving forward. As an entrepreneur, you will have to accept that your employees generally will not be as excited or motivated about your business as you are. That’s ok! It’s always best to try and find people that take ownership of their position and do their best. I always tell my staff to treat the business like it’s your business. The Private Label team has a bunch of hard-working employees, and we’re always interested in finding more to add to the team.
We’ll be looking for more members to run our showrooms as we continue to open additional stores across the country.
Where can we go to learn more?
- The Brand
- Website for Fearless Beauty and links to my brands
- My Instagram
- A detailed article for entrepreneurs
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