I’m Ken Burkeen, Founder & CEO of Huetiful and the Huetiful Salons located in Atlanta, Chicago, and now in Dallas-Ft. Worth. I’ve been in the personal care and beauty Care industry since 2001. I started in the haircare industry in 2010.
I asked myself "Why?" Then the Huetiful Hair Steamer was born.
Inspiration and new businesses typically come from the question, "why?" For me the question was, "if conditioners and treatments worked so well, then why do so many people have 7, 13 or 19 different kinds of half used bottles under their sink?"
I was determined to not just create another conditioner that ends up under a sink for the textured hair care market, but rather solve the frustration that leads to having 19 conditioners under the sink.
My hypothesis was that hair, which is 8 to 12% water, was dry because it lacked water, not conditioners and oil. I reasoned, like our bodies, our textured hair needs to be hydrated in order to prevent breakage, split ends, dryness, and frizz. The question of “why” inspired me to create the Huetiful Hair Steamer.
The Huetiful Salon experience can be described as consistent, exceptional textured hair care service with an uncompromising focus on hair health, timeliness, and styling expertise for waves, curls, and coils.
Truth be told, I had no intention of owning a salon, let alone leading three salons and 26 stylists. However, as a business owner I let the market forces push me towards opportunity. I allowed client insights inform me on how to take advantage of those opportunities. The textured hair care market was definitely telling me that there was space for a natural, textured hair salon company that was focused on providing consistent and exceptional hair care experiences. I simply stepped into that void when I realized the opportunity.
I approach business from a very analytical and process-oriented perspective.
At times, it can be at odds with the fluidity of the art of cosmetology. As a former CEO who I once worked for stated, “gut is for gamblers.” I try to rely on data, intel (research), and client or customer feedback more times than a premonition of fleeting thought. Then, I layer my experience and intuition on top of data and structure to get desired results. My previous positions in the US Army, Procter & Gamble, Novartis, and UPS all approached business in very much the same way.
The only way to have a successful product is to create a strong, honest brand that resolves customer hair care frustrations. It’s that simple.
When I added the service-based side of Huetiful to the manufacturing/e-commerce side of the Huetiful business one thing was clear: Huetiful is now in the business of People. You can’t outsource hair styling. You can’t send it overseas or have it stashed in a warehouse. If you’re going to be in the People business, you better genuinely care for and about your employees and make that a centerpiece of how you do business.
The only way to have a successful product is to create a strong, honest brand.
The product marketplace has become commoditized with the acceptance of textured hair care products in grocery and drugstores, mass merchandisers (like Target and Walmart), and the explosion of e-commerce sales. Unlike ten years ago, people in every community across the country literally have access to 500 brands that will deliver to their doorstep. When this happens, the only way to have a successful product is to create a strong, honest brand that provides products that resolve customer hair care frustrations. It’s that simple.
I draw inspiration from industries outside of hair care.
For service, I’m inspired by Ritz Carlton and Chick Fil-A (“My pleasure!” and “How may I serve you?”). From a beauty and aesthetics standpoint, I’m inspired by many cosmetic and prestige brands.
For me, strategies are less about what I’m going to do and more about what I’m not going to do.
There are days in which the growth and complexity of the business seems overwhelming. I try to focus on 5 key strategies laid out at the beginning of the year. Clear strategies provide guideposts that keep you from getting overwhelmed.