Harmoni Florence, Lexus Ferrell, Dejah Greason and Saqoyia Price are all graduating seniors at Michigan State University who took their own crafts of the beauty industry and started local business near the Michigan State Campus.
Coincidentally, these four ladies are all from the same high school, Detroit’s Cass Technical.
Harmoni Florence is a senior at MSU studying human development and family studies. Florence started her hair business during her sophomore year and more recently added makeup to her services.
“I had friends that would let me practice different types of styles on them until I perfected them. For makeup, I started practicing on people in the beginning of 2017 and decided to become a freelance MUA a few months later,” Florence said.
Lexus Ferrell is a studying human resources and labor relations. Ferrell owns her on wig making business called “Buttered Designs.”
“My boyfriend and I, were just thinking of common adjectives that people use when they love a new hairstyle or haircut. “Butter” was what kept coming to mind. Originally the name was “Buttered Hair Co.” when we were focused on just selling hair.”
Ferrell and her boyfriend originally were going into business together to sell hair extensions. Ferrell decided to continue working on their business by taking advantage of the wig-making industry. The wig-making business is on the rise. Wigs help protect the hair from heat damage and other harsh styles on a woman’s hair — especially a woman who loves to drastically change her hair on the regular.
“We changed the name to “Buttered Hair Designs” to keep it open for other ventures and it flowed better,” said Ferrell.
Dejah Greason is studying interdisciplinary studies. Greason owns her own nail business called Nailed by Dejah.
“My friend Saqoyia and my boyfriend pushed me to get my logo and cards and just pass them out around campus and just keep pushing my brand through social media such as Instagram and Snapchat,” Greason said.
Saqoyia Price is studying nursing. Price owns her hairstyling business called Beauty by Qoyia.
“Doing hair was something that always came natural to me. I’ve been perfecting my craft since high school, getting better and better,” Said Price.
Price are and Greason are roommates and best friends. The two have been encouraging one another since Cass Tech days to always go for more.
The fact that the two lives together helps grow their clientele. A client for Price may decide to get a nail service from Greason and vice versa.
“My family and friends would always tell me I should take it more serious, but it would go through one ear and out the other,” Price said.
Passion, support systems and the simple need for funds are all great reasons for a student to start a business on or near a college campus.
“I started my own business because I wanted to have more streams of income and also due to the fact that doing women’s hair and makeup is a passion of mine,” said Florence.
Wigs started off as a personal thing for Ferrell, but the better she got the more she saw a way to make a profit. Then in November 2017, Ferrell’s boyfriend suggested they go into business selling hair extensions.
“I started making wigs my freshman year of college when my parents stopped paying for me to get my hair done,” Ferrell said. “My hair has always been a big part of who I am so I had to find an alternative to staying “buttered” at all times.”
Starting a business in college can give a student more flexibility.
“I set my own schedule, I have to be on a strict schedule being a mom and trying to finish school while also having my own business,” said Florence. “Staying up late is something I had to get used to, because it’s the only way I can peacefully complete school work.”
Starting a business can be a very scary thing. Entrepreneurs are risk takers, and every entrepreneur has their own challenges to face.
“The most challenging thing about being in this industry is having to accept failure at times,” said Florence. “Accepting the fact that some hairstyles and faces I do will not always turn out perfect to my standards is hard for me.”
Price sometimes get very discouraged, but used her challenges to get better.
“Once I noticed that school started to become more demanding and I couldn’t work my cashier job as much I normally would the idea of starting my business and taking my craft to the next level became my goal,” Price said.
Greason was just nervous to get started.
“I’ve always wanted to do nails since high school. I just was scared that I wouldn’t be as good as I am now, and I just told myself, ‘Why not do something you love doing and make money from it?’”
Overcoming these challenges, and knowing how to do better next time, will help the business in the long run.
“When I do not feel satisfied with the work I did on a client, I tend to be hard on myself because I am such a perfectionist,” Florence said.
Ferrell’s godfather owned a pawn shop for most of her life. She helped out with the family business and knew early on that she would one day own something of her own. She understands her businesses setbacks and used her talents and entrepreneurial background to help fix issues early on.
Florence understood that she needed to grow her clientele, so she added services to better make her stand out.
“My clientele was not that consistent, but it’s still growing. I’ve been getting more clients now since that I’ve added make-up to my services,” Florence said. “I have more of a one stop shop now so ladies can get their hair done as well as their makeup.”
In the beauty industry clientele is something important to maintain. Getting and maintaining a clientele is important to all of these ladies.
“I love my clientele,” Ferrell said. “Most of them are college students, so they understand that I have to work around school, and they are very understanding of that. I work hard, and it shows in my work and I don’t leave any customers dissatisfied. I haven’t come across and clients who were not satisfied but if I ever do I would do my best to fix the problem and keep them happy.”
All of the ladies are familiar with using social media to promote their business. Greason and Price now have flyers and sometimes work together with promotional deals to help grow clientele.
“My clientele has grown tremendously since I began promoting, using social media as my platform,” Price said. “I started a business page on Instagram and Facebook. I posted things on my personal page, and I asked my family and friends to post my work.”
Greason said practice and staying trendy is what grew her clientele. There are plenty of nail shops in the Lansing area, but is very hard to find someone who keeps up with the nail trends. To get started, Greason asked her personal nail tech about getting started.
“Supplies are very minimal. I just pay for thread, wig heads, needles, bleach and wig caps,” Ferrell said. “At most, I come out of $20 per month in supplies, which I make back 3 times that with one wig.”
A wig maker may have less supplies to maintain and buy than hairstylists like Florence and Price, who may consistently run out of product.
“I started with the basics,” Price said. “I brought the main items I would need to do the majority of the services I offered piece by piece: Flat irons, combs, blow dryers, beeswax, rubber bands, needles, thread, and more.”
Florence watches all types of YouTube tutorials to see what supplies are worth buying and trying and what’s not.
“I also ask other hairstylists or makeup artists about what supplies they use just to make it easier for me,” Florence said.
Florence says her target market is women of all ages. Ferrell, however, understands that her Detroit connections may work in her favor. As freshmen, moving into a new city, it was hard for the ladies to find someone to do their hair and nails to a certain standard.
“My target market now are college students,” Ferrell said. “I get a lot of inquiries from my hometown in Detroit but I’m not back and forth enough to pick up all the clientele that I wish I could.”
Price and Greason are looking to maintain a clientele back home in Detroit and continue to travel from Lansing to the Detroit area for their growing clientele. Price even has her own booth at a professional hair salon, which she works out of every other weekend in Detroit.
All four of these ladies were able to quit their 9-5 jobs and work on their studies and focus on their business. Four very creative women used college as a playground for success in building businesses in the beauty industry. However, now that they all are graduating in the fall and moving away, this may be an opportunity for someone new to take over.