Tribune | Jun 8, 2022 | 0
Sharie Wilson Of DreamGirls Hair Salon Makes Forbes With Launch of New Hair Care
Sharie Wilson is one of the owners of DreamGirls Fine Hair Imports & Salon. She is a mother, business owner, entrepreneur, wife, sister and friend. And she is also a very busy woman.
Sharie Wilson and her sister Tonya Thompson launched the Healthy Hair Care Systems Starter Kit. Not only is this kit aimed at helping women maintain their hair at home, but the product was launched in the middle of a pandemic. While Wilson knew that the product was going to do well, she didn’t expect SUCH an enormous amount of success in such a small timespan. Their success landed them on Forbes, showcasing their business’ success during a time where many businesses are struggling.
I had the privilege of interviewing Sharie Wilson in her Elk Grove home, where we discussed how she got her start in the hair industry. Additionally, we talked about how her product line was made and how it became a huge success. Also, we discussed what businesses can do to survive the pandemic.
The interview was conducted on January 5, 2021.
Wilson: My name is Shari Wilson. I’ve been in Sacramento for the last whoa, like 19 years now. I’m originally from Los Angeles and I’m married.
I’m a mother of all boys and I think of myself as an advocate for different issues, racial issues, women issues, kid issues. I went to a cosmetology school in South Sac called Mix Institute of Cosmetology. I have two salons, one in Los Angeles and one here.
And then we recently launched our product line called Healthy Hair Care.
Ip: And that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. Yeah, you’re a busy woman. Ok, so what made you decide to work with hair?
Wilson: You know, it’s always been my passion. I used to help my auntie at a very young age, like braid hair, you know. And then I never thought I wanted to do it full time because I never really looked at doing hair as a career. You know, I went to school, I went to Cal State Northridge, majored in business, came out here. I worked in corporate I work at Cintas as one of their sales rep. [gestures to mask] Can I take this off?
Ip: Oh yeah, go ahead.
Wilson: And then I used to come home and do hair after I work my 9 to 5. And then one day I was just like, I can’t do this anymore. I’m just going to take a leap of faith and do hair full time. And that’s what I did.
Ip: Oh wow. So where did you get your start doing hair? Do you remember?
Getting Her Start In Cosmetology
Wilson: Yeah, I went through a program, it was an apprenticeship program, Northern California Apprenticeship Program out here in Sacramento. So and then I interned at another hair salon for like five years and I earned my license.
Ip: Oh, nice. Yeah, my aunt is a hairstylist, so I kind of remember her steps. She was really — I was like five or so when she was doing her apprenticeship. So, as you probably know, a lot of businesses have been going under because of the pandemic. How have your two salons survived and thrived during this time?
Surviving The Pandemic
Wilson: You know what, honestly, if it wasn’t for my product line, I could see how my businesses could have went under as well, because we’re not working, right?
Wilson: I think we have been shut down five months, a whole year a really now.
Ip: A really long time.
Wilson: And we were supposed to go back to work on the third? Right? And then they’re extending it. So, I don’t see how businesses are surviving… When God told us to launch our product, he actually prepared us in November, December.
And so we had no idea the pandemic was happening. So, I just I owe this all to God because he the day that he wanted us to drop it, we were to going to cancel. Because we wanted to have this big launch party for both of our salons. And then, boom, the pandemic we decided to push anyway. And with that, it’s just, you know, we already had a really big name as far as our hair care and doing healthy hair. So I think that really helped us too. We used to travel back and forth to New York and Atlanta.
Launch Day & The Pandemic
But when the shutdown happened, we couldn’t do anything. And so, ah, we launched our product and it just went crazy. The first weekend we did a pre-sale, because we didn’t have all the money to buy our first run. We had the money to start the development and do the bottling a little bit. But we needed money to start and we did our first pre-sale and we just said, let’s do a pre-sale and tell people about it. They would have to wait six to eight weeks. We did that in three days with $30,000.
Ip: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Wow.
Wilson: Yeah, we did that that, and that helped us buy our first load. And then in six months we did a million and at the end of December we closed out. We were close to $2M.
Ip: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing.
Wilson: Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving. We did $100,000 in four hours.
Ip: Yeah. So I know. What was it? DreamGirls hair care… Was that the product?
Wilson: Mmhmm. DreamGirls Healthy Hair Care.
DreamGirls Healthy Hair Care
Ip: So, I read online that it was sort of like a way for women to take care of their hair at home, which was really great because of the pandemic. Everyone couldn’t go to the salon. So, was that just an unintended benefit?
Wilson: Well, what happened was we started the Healthy Hair Care system for people to take care of their hair at home, but not for our clients — not for our local clients. It was for our clients in Atlanta, New York, Tennessee. I mean, we have clients coming from everywhere. And they wanted us to come to them, but we can’t be everywhere. You know, we can’t be everywhere. Plus, I have a family. I have kids. Yeah. And it was just hard for me to keep traveling. Trying to, you know, because in New York we had to go out there every three months because the program is every 12 weeks.
And so we decided to put the program in a kit and teach women to do it at home. So happened the pandemic happened. And it was it just end up being real big because all of the salons were shut down.
So even our clients were forced to take care of their hair at home. So it wasn’t — and I know when people read our story they kind of think that we created this during the pandemic because people can’t… But we was really doing this for our clients that couldn’t come to us, that were all over the United States, that wanted to join the Healthy Hair Care Program. So, we decided to put it in a kit and then have consultations and go step by step virtually to help them achieve their goals. And then this (the pandemic) happened.
Expectations During The Pandemic
Ip: Yeah. So, what were your expectations when you guys launched the product during the pandemic?
Wilson: It was just to make sure our other clients were taking cared of, you know, just the people that was following us, people that wanted to get their hair healthy again. That’s — we just wanted to bottle it up and sell it and so they could have the opportunity to grow their hair too.
Ip: Awesome. Ok, and then what really surprised you about launching it? Was it the success or was there something else that really surprised you about launching the product?
Wilson: I was — I knew the product line was going to do well because we had a big fan base, like a lot of people wanted to grow their hair, but we didn’t know it was going to grow so fast. So that’s what surprised us, how quickly things just took off.
Ip: Yeah. How long did it take for you guys to, like, come up with the product?
Wilson: I have a video, actually. We were in a lab in 2012. Oh, so this is years in the making. Oh, yeah. Yeah. On stop stops. You know, we start and then we stop because we get discouraged because we probably… Somebody said we get this product or this ingredient, it’s going to cost this much money. And then we kind of got discouraged and we stopped and then we picked it back up again and then we stopped and picked it back up.
Ip: Oh! So, this is like your baby?
Wilson: Yeah. This is something we’ve, you know, we’ve been working on. Yeah. And then what happened was actually my best friend came out in December or November. And he was like, what is going on? Why aren’t you starting this product line? And he was like, come on, let’s go. So we went to the Whole Foods store and my kitchen became like a lab, like playing with rosemary and playing with peppermint. Man, I’m like, and I like this. And this is what I use in the shop. And he — I think he’s one of the ones that helped me, him and his wife kind of helped me like, OK, let’s just do it.
Ip: Yeah. Yeah. Just gave you the push. That’s amazing.
Wilson: Mmhmm! And it was right on time.
Ip: I mean, I hate to say that something good came out of the pandemic, but, you know, that was really — that was kind of a lucky incident accidentally.
Wilson: Mmhmm, bless.
Other Products In The Works
Ip: Yes. So, what other products do you have in store for your customers in the future?
Wilson: We’re coming out with a moisture line. Our product right now is basically for getting your hair for growth. So it has the peppermint, the rosemary, the lavender, the tea tree. So sometimes it’s not as moisturizing. You have to follow up with the Revival and stuff. Yeah, we’re coming out with a kit, but we really want to come out with a leave-in moisturizing shampoo. So, curly hair products. That’s all in the works now. And we are looking to launch that probably in March.
Advice For Struggling Businesses
Ip: Oh wow. That’s coming up. Wow, you’re busy. You’re very busy. OK, so the last question I have is what advice can you give other businesses that are struggling right now?
Wilson: I will say learn how to pivot. Think outside the box and speak life to. I don’t care what’s going on around you. You need to speak life to it. And when you speak life to it, it will happen. Speak life to to the situation. And just remember your tongue cast spells.
Ip: That’s great! I like that.
Wilson: Yeah. So, if you want greatness, claim greatness. But if you say, oh my God, this is not working. This is, that is all going to come back to you. So you just speak what you want to come and that will come. And then also surround yourself around, make sure your circle, the people that’s in business with you is all aligned. Make sure that you guys are all speaking the same language or that time you’re not speaking that language.
Right. And so, for example, you know, I was going through a lot during Thanksgiving and my sister said, “We’re going to make $300,000 this weekend.” And I’m like, “Girl, bye, we’re not doing that.”
But in my doubtful moment, even though I’m a very positive person in that moment, I was doubtful, right? She was able to carry us.
Ip: That’s great.
Wilson: So you have to be around people there are like minded for that moment when you’re not. Because if you’re around people that, you know, always doubting and negative and then that moment that you’re negative, who is going to pull you? Who’s going to pull your vision when you can’t? So I would say surround yourself around people who think the same way.
On Family & Friends
Ip: Yeah. So I’m assuming that your family and your friends play a huge part and like how your business is thriving right now?
Wilson: Oh, absolutely. [points to best friend] That’s my best friend. She’s helping me with appointments. My sister is my business partner. My son, Isaiah, he runs over operations. [points to photo] That’s when he was like 16. He’s over my whole operation is like everywhere. He’s talking to attorneys. He’s talking to bottling companies. He’s talking to the lab. He does everything in this.
Ip: How old is he now?
Wilson: He will be 20, February 20. February 14. Oh, that’s 15, 17. You know, February 17. He’ll be 20 years old. [points to photo] And there’s my two nieces and they’re all in one of those pictures. They’re up there.
But those twins up there? They are all over the marketing, on the Facebook. Like all of the ads and articles that you’re seeing. You know when Forbes call, they are handling that, getting that out.
So those are my nieces. And then one of their friends is actually over graphics and making sure that we’re posting.
Ip: That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Wilson: It’s really a family business.
Ip: Yeah, I love that. I know that a lot of people, you know, they say don’t mix family or friends with business, but for you, it’s working.
Family & Friends In Business
Wilson: It’s working and it’s not always good. Now me and my sister we do fight, we do argue, but as long as your vision is good and you guys – I know when to fall back. I know when to be quiet. When I see that she’s taking control, then I fall back. When I feel like I need to step in, I step in and I say my part.
Because when we first started off, I was doing everything she was — she wasn’t even involved. I kind of told her, okay the product’s done. And she was like, OK, so she wasn’t really involved in the last part. Throughout the process she kind of was, but I took lead. And it’s a lot of things that she’s taken lead that I kind of fall back. So, we kind of balance each other and we know when to step up, when to step down.
Ip: Right. And I’m assuming your sister’s name. I can’t remember.
Wilson: Tonya Thompson.
Ip: Tonya Thompson. OK, I was thinking Thomas or Thompson or something. Yeah, I saw her name on your website. I just want to make sure I get that down.
Wilson: Tonya Thompson. My name is Shari Thompson Wilson.
Ip: I can’t believe your kid, your son is involved, and your nieces. That’s great!
Wilson: He runs it. Yesterday, he ran the whole meeting and he was just like, okay, fifteen minutes, please don’t interrupt. And I was like, wait, hold up. You still my kid.
But, you know, he has to take your take charge.
Ip: Only at 20. Wow.
Wilson: Oh yeah. He’s really, really good. He goes to Cal State Northridge and this is his third year in college. All right. Second year. He’s completed his second year next year will be his third year.
Ip: Is he going into business like you did?
Wilson: Mhmmm. Hopefully, he takes over this empire.
Ip: Well, thank you for your time. I’d shake your hand, but you know.
If you would like to peruse what DreamGirls has to offer, click here.
Wilson’s success didn’t come easily. Click here to read an interview that our Jax did with Sharie Wilson when a racist note was on left on DreamGirls‘ salon.