“Your business is only as strong as your team.”
That quote is just as true now for Khat Rabbani and Ashley Williams as it was in 2011, when the two longtime friends decided to open up their very own business, which they named Hair Are Us.
An extension brand that caters to celebrities and the everyday woman seemed like a far-fetched dream at the time, but with dedication, teamwork, and the ambition to succeed, Rabbani and Williams were able to secure a booming online presence and three in-store locations in top markets like Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles.
We had an interesting conversation with co-founder Khat Rabbani about what it really takes to grow your business into a household name, how staying committed can make all the difference, and more.
Global Grind: How did you and your partner Ashley come up with the concept of Hair Are Us?
Khat: Hair Are Us is an extension brand my partner Ashley Williams and I created in 2011. The idea came when we decided to collaborate and work together on a project. We both come from a very entrepreneurial spirit. We decided to start a hair business because at that time, it wasn’t as popular as it is now. Since I was already an extension specialist, I had a lot of information in the field, and Ashley has always been business savvy and she had her contacts, so it worked out well. In the beginning, we didn’t expect it to grow as fast as it did.
Take us back to when you and your partner decided to open Atlanta and Miami locations.
We started in Atlanta, that’s our home base. Once we started gaining a lot of attention, we also noticed that we began to get a lot of online orders coming through from Florida, and we thought this may be something we should explore. I took the first step and moved out to Miami for six months and then Ashley followed me out there. Within the six months of me being out there, we started our business. We started small, we sublet into another store until we really built up the demand for it. We did all of the ground work, passing out flyers like we did in the beginning in Atlanta; we were our own promotion girls, we did all the online orders, we were customer service reps. We just did everything! At the time, it was only three of us running the business.
Hair Are Us has come a long way in just a short amount of years. And now the business just opened an official L.A. store. What was that process like?
About two years after the Miami business was settled, we decided to take on Los Angeles because L.A. is really the mecca of beauty. We wanted to take the next step into a commercial level. Within all that time we were able to grow a really loyal following, which helped a lot. Our customers encouraged us to come to Los Angeles and now we’re finally here. We’ve been open for about a month now and it’s been doing really well. Way above our expectations.
How do two young entrepreneurs like you and Ashley manage your time with a thriving business?
That’s a good question, we’re still trying to figure out how we manage everything! But what we’ve grown to realize and we actually realized early on is that you have to have a very strong team. In the beginning, Ashley and I were wearing all the hats. Once we mastered what we effectively need to do to run our business, that’s when we started appointing other individuals that we can train and trust to start doing all the small things that are actually pretty important for the business. That was the only way that we were able to branch out. It’s still a lot of work, however having a great team makes our business run so much more smoothly.
What advice would you give someone who’s looking to start their own business, whether it’s in beauty, hair, or really anything?
When you’re just starting, you have to first make the decision that you’re going to start your own business. Make an oath that you’re going to stay dedicated and committed, because in the beginning of our business, Ashley and I didn’t know how far we were going to go. But, it’s all about consistency. We’ve been faced with so many trials and errors but being consistent helped us figure a way to break through. Remember to stay focused and leave the distractions alone.
Which celebrity is total #HairGoals for you?
This is so cliché, but I’m going to have to go with Beyoncé, because she always brings something new to the table. From her short bob, to the long locks, to me she can do no wrong. My second choice would be Kylie Jenner. She’s so edgy and I love that she’s trying different looks, especially with the wigs. Her stylist is making sure she is right!
Where do you and Ashley see Hair Are Us within the next few years? Where would you like to see the brand go?
We really want to focus on becoming a household name. When people think of hair extensions, we want Hair Are Us to come to mind as the top brand. We have the advantage of having our product available in stores, and a lot of other brands are based mostly online. For us, the physical relationship is so important. We’re hoping to give you an experience whenever you come to our store. We like to think of ourselves as a beauty bar, because we also offer makeup and lash applications. There’s engagement and we thrive on that.
For more information on Hair Are Us, visit their site.
PHOTO CREDIT: The Brand Group, Instagram