Keya James on How She Turned a DIY Shea Butter Recipe into a Successful Haircare Brand

Image: @tailoredbeauty

In 2011, Keya James started her natural hair journey and she made the decision to avoid relaxers and harmful ingredients. She began researching the science of natural hair care and was inspired to create her own hair products after learning that most “natural” hair care products used artificial ingredients. Late 2015 Keya James along with her husband Aaron James started Tailored Beauty. The success has come fast, and the business is on a steady climb. Keep reading to learn more about the founder and CEO, Keya James, her mission behind Tailored Beauty, the key ingredients to healthy hair care using Ayurvedic herbs and how she plans to expand her brand by mentoring and investing in the community.

What was it like for you growing up with natural hair?

Growing up during the 90’s, many of the brown girls who looked like myself did not have natural hair. My first relaxer was at the age of 6, so I had no idea what my natural texture was like. Once I attended college it was through a peer that I learned about natural haircare. I watched her hair transform over 2 semesters. She introduced me to forums and I was intrigued by images that women would share of their beautiful, thick natural hair. I did my big chop in the early part of the natural hair movement. My closest friends and family thought I was crazy, but I knew healthy natural hair was possible from my favorite YouTuber and forum member’s periodic length checks. In 2011 I started a YouTube channel to document my hair journey, having a channel was the perfect distraction from the stress of graduate school and work.

“My mission for the brand is the same as it’s been since I formulated the products in my kitchen. To create products with premium ingredients that are safe for all members of the household.”

Tell us about the creation of Tailored Beauty and what makes your brand unique?

I began creating products in 2013 shortly after having my daughter. I would read so many labels and could never find a single product that was gentle and natural myself and my daughter. I began creating hair products and documenting the results of both me and my daughter’s hair journey on my YouTube channel KeyaJ. My subscribers saw the results of my homemade products and asked if I could sell them. 

In 2015 I formally launched Tailored Beauty. My mission for the brand is the same as it’s been since I formulated the products in my kitchen. To create products with premium ingredients that are safe for all members of the household. Creating the perfect regimen was something that I struggled with early on in my hair regimen, I learned from my customers that they face the same struggles I faced as well. Tailored Beauty provides education about our products and we believe no two heads are alike. We provide a wide range of products for all hair types and offer personalized hair regimens to our customers which can be done by taking a simple 5-minute quiz on our site. 

Keya James on How She Turned a DIY Shea Butter Recipe into a Successful Haircare Brand

Image: @tailoredbeauty

What key ingredients do you use for healthy hair?

As a vegan it is important for me to understand each ingredient that I am putting into my body. For example, I wanted to incorporate vitamins into my personal hair regimen, however it was difficult to find a vegan herbal supplement to promote healthy hair. I created an herbal hair vitamin with herbs like Horsetail, Aloe, Fenugreek, Rosemary, and Sage to promote healthy hair. Since launching the vitamins my hair has grown and is visibly fuller. I also love the benefits of Ayurvedic herbs in my hair and body. Using herbs such as Fenugreek, Bhringraj, Gotu Kola Extract, and Neem are some of the key Ayuvedic herbs in our Golden Herbal collection to promote healthy hair. 

What are the hero products that customers rave about?

Customers love our Everything Butter, Moisture Penetrating Deep Conditioning Treatment, and Curl Antidote Curling Cream. Tailored Beauty’s Everything Butter was the first product that I introduced in the early stages of my business on YouTube and continues to be our number one seller. We have a unique process for creating the perfect consistency of this butter which makes it the perfect moisturizer. Our customers with dry or low porosity hair have claimed that our Everything Butter is the only product that has helped them to retain moisture.

Our Moisture Penetrating Deep Conditioning Treatment and Curl Antidote Curling Cream have become instant favorites after the Golden Herbal Collection launch last year. Customers love the slip and long term moisture that the Moisture Penetrating Deep Conditioning Treatment provides and the definition and moisture that the Curl Antidote Curling Cream provides.

Keya James on How She Turned a DIY Shea Butter Recipe into a Successful Haircare Brand

Image: @tailoredbeauty

What advice can you share for entrepreneurs on building a successful business?

Learn every aspect of running a business before expanding. I have a business degree, but a business degree alone did not prepare me for running a business. My business scaled when I educated my self on every aspect of running a business. For example, understand digital marketing before hiring a digital marketer, learn how to send a press release before hiring PR, or learn to run and grow your social media before hiring a social media manger. Understanding these things will help you become a better leader and you will see better results.

Also, understand your target consumer so you are not creating or selling a product that just works for you. Figure out ways to solve a problem for your consumers. Always engage with your customers on social media, in person, and through surveys. I am very hands on with my consumers so I understand their painpoints with their natural hair and I am always figuring out how to solve their problems.

What legacy do you strive to leave?

Growing up in the Bronx, I did not see a lot of successful people who looked like me. Helping people is something that I am passionate about. This year Tailored Beauty will begin our brand ambassador program and it will be the first of its kind in the natural hair community. As an influencer and brand owner, I know the ins and out of influencer marketing. I will have over 20 women that I will personally mentor help to grow their brand as influencers.

 I believe in building relationships and providing knowledge to help people in my community grow. I also teach small business owners how to run a business on my personal social media accounts and speaking engagements. It’s important for me to spread my knowledge to the people in my community. Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and that’s so amazing to me! There are so many entrepreneurs who want to start a business, but they don’t know where to start. I can relate, because I had so many questions in the early stages. For me, my success is not just about running a successful business, but its about how many people I can help on their entrepreneurship journey.

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