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Interview with Boho Locs founder

‘Brands that sell to black women should be owned by black women:’ Lulu Pierre {Founder & CEO of Boho Locs}

Interview with Boho Locs founder

Today we sit down with the founder & CEO of Boho Locs Lulu Pierre to discuss the genesis of the successful brand, her journey as an entrepreneur and lessons learnt as a black female business owner.

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Highlights from the conversation have been edited and condensed for clarity

What is the brand ‘Boho Locs’ all about?

Boho locs is a company that specializes in crochet hair extensions; we have a really wide range of colors from blonde, purple, red, grey and black. We have four styles in our collection and we hope to expand on this in the near future. We ship our products worldwide, have warehouses in America and we are also hoping to open in the UK and Europe later in the year. We stand for black female empowerment and we firmly believe as a brand; that brands that sell to black women should be owned by black women. This is because to cater properly to black women you need to understand who we are, what our needs are and this is difficult if you are not a black woman. That is Boho Locs in a nutshell.

‘Brands that sell to black women should be owned by black women’. Why do you think this hasn’t been the case before now?

I think there has been a lot of monopoly in the marketplace by Korean-owned brands. I have been doing quite a bit of research on this and I discovered there was a historic trade agreement in America, which established the Koreans as the dominant sellers of synthetic hair products which obviously is mostly purchased by us (black women). So it is a long standing history, which is changing because the world has really evolved from when these things were put in place. These days it is not hard for you to find your own manufacturing and build your own brand but, when these (the trade agreements) were set up, it was more difficult. I think it is just an historical thing but I think it’s something that can change and is already changing.

What was the inspiration behind Boho Locs?

I have always seen myself as an entrepreneur since I was little and I have had businesses prior to Boho Locs. My Dad is an entrepreneur and he got me into lots of entrepreneurial books when I was quite young. However, the catalyst or inspiration behind this (Boho Locs) was a desire to serve as many people as I can. I actually used to make the individual locs at home but it used to take quite a long time and the demand for it (even then) was high. I had lots of repeat customers and it got to a point where I couldn’t accept any new customer because my existing customers were coming back. I remember a time I did a promo with an influencer and I was booked up for three months in advance. Everything that was happening made me think about the next thing I can do to serve as many people as possible. Making the individual locs back then would take maybe six to eight hours per customer, but I had a very unique way of doing it and I thought that if I could encapsulate that into a product, then people all over the world would want it. I knew it could do very well as an ecommerce brand. That really is the genesis of it.

Who is Boho locs primarily for?

It is primarily for black women all over the world; at the moment we are not serving the world as we want to because our warehousing is in the United States for now. But we plan to serve black women all over the world who come from various backgrounds with the view of empowering them; we want to communicate confidence through our brand, through our creative, through our message. We want people to feel more confident  when they’re wearing our products and to know that they’re part of a movement  which represents the upward trajectory I would say of black women and also our ability to own businesses, grow unicorn businesses and to really come together and raise ourselves up.

What is the major thing you have learnt about being in business?

There is a transition you have to go through from being that enthusiastic leader to being the CEO. This transition makes you realize you need smart people around you, even smarter than you and this might be challenging for some because of their egos. You have to accept the fact that you can’t do everything by yourself and that you need to be able to delegate. As a CEO, you have to know your strong points and focus on the part of the business that requires them the most, while hiring smart people to lead the other departments.

What do you think is the best thing about starting something for yourself?

It aligns with what you believe your purpose is. There are also financial benefits tied to having your own business obviously, but also having that feeling of being able to control your destiny. Being able to own your time is also great and being an example or role model to people in general.  There are lots of benefits. Business in itself is also fun, it is a creation that changes from time to time and to enjoy it, you have to like change, be able to manage change and be comfortable with change.  One of the things I am really passionate about is being able to go on this journey together with my black female team at Boho Locs.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their business?

One major thing an entrepreneur must understand before fundraising or anything else is the intricacies of making a business profitable. This is so crucial to being an entrepreneur, building a profitable business and sustaining profitability will put a business in a strong position going into fundraising. Once you understand how to create and sustain a profitable business, crowd funding is a phenomenal way of raising funds for your business as you are engaging with people who could eventually become advocates for your business. Crowd funding platforms like BuildHer that caters to black female-owned businesses are so important due to the funding gap that exists between minority businesses (especially minority black female) and other races.

Can you share a little bit of your marketing strategy when Boho Locs started?

Of course! I started Boho Locs with no money (Yes I did), so my strategy was to presell my products by creating different types of content and put it out on social media, which helped me in generating email subscribers and this was crucial to Boho Locs’ growth at the beginning. Social media converts at a very low rate compared to email, so in terms of your value per person on social media versus per person on your email list, email is the clear and obvious winner. This made me realize early enough the importance of having an engaged email list. To summarize it, my strategy was getting leads from social media and converting them into customers via email.

Do you think a business can depend on social media to drive revenue?

Yes and no. No because organic reach on social media is declining dramatically year after year and this is understandable because these social media platforms are businesses. Honestly, I think businesses that cling on to social media to drive revenue won’t survive. Social media is important for communicating your brand identity, what you stand for as a brand and so on, and I think the key to expanding your reach on social media is via paid socials as opposed to organic. However, I think social media is still important to a business in terms of putting your brand out there, but there comes a tipping point in your business that the only way to experience exponential growth is by investing in digital marketing funnels.

Do you have anything else you would like to say?

Yes I do. I just want to say that Success is an absolute decision, it’s not subject to chance or luck and once you decide to be successful, you have to eliminate every form of distraction. When I started Boho Locs I completely stopped watching TV because it was a distraction. Instead I started attending webinars, reading books, speaking to people and just trying to be as informed as possible. My goal at the beginning of Boho Locs was to make a million sales in a year which I eventually achieved, but I was committed to that goal from day one. Therefore, success is a choice and once you decide to be successful, commit to it by focusing on things that serve that decision, while eliminating distractions in your life.

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