Generational Support, Pride & Family
We're back with another amazing episode of The Chirp. If you didn't get a chance to check out our previous episode, you'll certainly want to take the time to listen to Story 2: If We're Such Good Friends, Why Are You Contacting Me?. This time around, we've got a wonderful tale from Daisha Roberts - a self made business woman thriving in the hair care industry.
This Episode In A Nutshell
Family - we either love them, hate them, can't stand them, or can't live without them. No matter how we feel about them, we're stuck with them and they make our lives all the more interesting for it. As supportive as some of our families may be, we still often find ourselves trying to overcome life's challenges alone. All in all, not seeking help boils down to one thing - pride, and sometimes it can be the difference between success and failure. Listen to Daisha, as she tells stories about how her family has supported each other financially for generations, and how she didn't let pride get in the way of her starting Noir Natural Products from only $100 and growing it into a profitable 5-star business with thousands of sales a month on Etsy.
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Audio Transcript of You Can't Succeed Alone, Don't Let It Be A Pride Thing
Yo yo yo, you're all very welcome back to Story 3 of The Chirp. Delighted for you all to be here. I have a very interesting episode for you all today.
Now before we get started, I would be remiss if I didn't ask you to give us a follow on your podcast platform of choice, check out the Pigeon Youtube channel where you can see our video version of the Chirp and give us a subscribe and like there. We would appreciate it a huge amount and if you've been with us from the start and have already done these things, thank you for your continued support!
Keeping the same vibe going from previous episodes, this week I had the opportunity to speak to a young entrepreneur called Daisha Roberts. Now Daisha runs her very own business that she has built from the ground up, called Noir Natural Products, a company that produces natural hair care products for those with kinky and curly hair texture.
All of Daisha’s details are given at the end of the interview and I implore each and every one of you that are interested in giving her products a try to get in touch to learn more.
With that, let's get the interview going and I hope you all enjoy! Let's go.
So Dasha, thank you so much for joining me today. Pleasure to have you on The Chirp. I'm very interested in your business at Noir Natural Products and how you kind of got going with this. So before we kind of get into it, could you kind of give me a backstory of how that started, how long ago and where you're kind of going with it.
Well, thank you for having me. I started Noir Natural Products in 2015. I was still an undergrad in college at the time. But prior to then I had relaxed hair. And so with relaxed hair, with the natural hair care movement, I had the desire to cut my hair off and care for my natural hair. And back in 2015 there weren't a lot of natural products geared towards women with kinky and curly hair textures. Now, there are a lot of different options available. And so I researched natural ingredients and how to make hair care products. And so initially I was making them for myself. And then I began selling them on a shop - it's called Etsy.
And that's kind of where I started to get a customer base without like promoting or anything. And I was selling the products faster than I was able to make them, which was kind of difficult being a student at the time. And so after school - after I graduated, I was able to focus more time and I had more money available to put into the business.
And so now we're able to produce products more efficiently.
Brilliant. And what is it about your regular hair products that are out there that would be harmful to hair? Because I know I was on your websites or the list of potentially harmful chemicals that you wouldn't have in your products.
What is the kind of damage that those products would do that you kind of stay away from?
So a big thing that is known now, but before it wasn't well-known, but is now well known is parabens. Parabens have been known to cause cancer. And so our products don't contain parabens and other things.
There's a lot of shampoos that contain sulfates, which can be very harsh for hair, especially for women with kinky and curly hair textures. It tends to dry the hair out. And so our products don't. Have fades. Another thing is that a lot of people have allergies toward fragrances. And so our fragrance is plant-based and we use essential oils, which.
Sometimes it can be better than our synthetic fragrances.
And how did you come about, you know, coming up with these, you know, these recipes or these, you know, ways of, of making these products, did you do it yourself or were you researching other people?
The great thing about the Internet is that you have access to pretty much anything.
The other great thing is people that have knowledge for how to make hair products actually share that knowledge. And so I learned a lot from chemistry, blogs, whereas you pay a subscription and then they give you formulas. And then a lot of information you can research on YouTube.
But I think for me specifically the chemistry, blogs, or the most helpful because they gave you like the percentages for each ingredient. They tell you why you need each ingredient. Because initially I didn't want to use preservatives and my products, which when I was making it for me, that was fine because I could use it.
And then anytime I needed it, I can make it. But when I started selling it I had to know what preservatives to use, what preservatives to not use, when to use them, how much to use. And so the chemistry blogs are really helpful.
Starting a business itself I know. I don't actually know much about Etsy and the way it works.
I suppose, starting off, what made you choose Etsy as your, you know, your e-commerce platform or your outlet to sell your products? Was it something that you were recommended on? Is this something that you might eventually move away from and, you know, start your own website or, you know, what are your thoughts on that?
So I initially started selling on Etsy because Etsy already has a specific audience. And so they gear towards people that are looking for handmade natural products. Yeah, I knew that they would already have that customer base available to them. On top of the fact that it was kind of like a side hobby while I was in school, it really only became a business when I closed down my Etsy shop because it started to become more stressful than it was a hobby. And customers began reaching out to me via email, sending me messages on Etsy. Like “where are the products” like, “please come back”, “like your products are the only ones that work for my hair”. And really that's what made me continue the business, because if I didn't have those messages, I wouldn't have a business right now. And with that, I had a website and I had my Etsy shop. The website that I had originally didn't have things like shipping integrations, which it probably does have now, but so that became very difficult.
[Back then] I would have to like copy and paste everyone's like shipping address and put it in - like to a usps.com, which was very time-consuming, a lot of mistakes can be made. When you do that and then having two separate marketplaces where you're selling products in terms of inventory that was kind of difficult.
It was easier for me to have an Etsy shop. We are actually having our website built right now to have everything that we would need. At that point, I believe that I would still have both because Etsy is just, it's pretty straightforward. All the integrations that you need are already built in, we are looking to market more towards or to gain our own customer base. And so that's where I believe that our website, our own website would be helpful.
Do you think the biggest barrier is going to be from migrating from Etsy and access to their customer base, to, you know, actually having your own website and access points. Do you think that you'll have to rely a lot on your current customer loyalty or maybe up the marketing?
What do you kind of foresee?
So the other good thing about our business is that. Not only make our own products, but we make products for other businesses as well. So we private label and a majority of our revenue comes from people that purchase products and then resell it under their name under their label.
Very good. Okay. So it's not, you're not just limited to, you know, advertising your own business. You actually. You have other, you know, deals going on behind the scenes as well. Very cool. When you started off, were you just on your own? I know you've kind of built a bigger team now. I can't imagine as a business like yours grows, you can do it all on your own.
How have you kind of built your, you know, your team around the brand?
So the reason why it was so stressful in the beginning was because it was just me, doing marketing, making the product, shipping the products, making sure that there's inventory, running a business on your own is very difficult.
After that hump that I got over, I was able to incorporate and include my family and my friends who really just kind of volunteered their time. But then when the business started to make profit, I was able to get employees that definitely help out so that I'm not so heavily into day-to-day operations, but more on the background of like business certifications and grants and just making sure everything is running.
So things of that nature.
Very cool. Fantastic. And where did you grow up?
I grew up in Boston. I currently live in Boston.
Growing up in Boston, were there any kind of examples you know, with your friends or with your family where your relationships have been a little bit strained by, you know, money or something of that nature?
I would definitely say so. So I guess more in my earlier years my dad was the primary breadwinner of the family. My mom was a stay at home mom, and I'm not exactly sure all the details or what happened, but I do remember a time where finances were limited and my father actually ended up borrowing money from my grandfather, which was very helpful.
I think during that time It kind of made it difficult for my grandfather, but fast forward my father was able to kind of pay him back. So it's kinda, it was, it was difficult in the sense of like someone that doesn't have like a whole lot of money, like letting someone, letting his child borrow money.
What are your thoughts about kind of what - I know you don't remember a huge amount of Ida, but why do you think that kind of thing is awkward? Especially if it's kind of a parent to a child or a father to a son, what are your thoughts about why that would be awkward?
I guess, fast-forward to like my now adult life. I would understand it in a way that so I allow my siblings to borrow money. And so one of my sisters actually more recently within the last couple of months was wanting to come to me to ask for money. And she said it in a way that was like, she doesn't really want to do it. She wouldn't do it if she didn't need it.
And I'm just, I was kind of like ha, like, “what do you mean”? Basically she was implying that the last time that I allowed her to borrow money she felt that I treated her differently in a sense in my head I'm like, what, like, what do you mean? Like, I didn't feel like it, you brought on money.
Didn't take anything away from like, I didn't feel like I treated her any type of way, but I think it was like something internal where she was kinda like she felt as though her borrowing money was I guess made it difficult for me, but in my head it was like, if my sister needs to borrow money, then you know...
She may have manifested something. And I suppose, how did your relationship with your, did your relationship with your sister change at all? Or was it kind of all on her end in terms of, you know, how she viewed the situation, you clearly didn't care at all about, about, you know, giving the loan, but why do you think it is that it was kind of difficult for her to internalize the fact?
Yeah, it was definitely a pride thing. We actually did get into like a little bit of an argument about it. Yeah, I mean, now, now we're fine, but it's definitely difficult to ask for money because it is, it is definitely a pride thing.
With your business now that you have, have any of these kinds of tales made their way into your, you know, entrepreneurial world or have you kind of realized that.
These, you know, personal lending experiences that you have, I've taught you anything about maybe staying away from that type of thing in your, in your business world.
I think the good thing about like when your business starts to build revenue is that you are able to be approved for a credit. And so credit is definitely helpful.
But before that, before I was able to prove that we were able to make money, my father was always there to help with anything that I needed. But with my father giving alone, it's more. I'm giving you a loan, but I'm not expecting you to pay me back in a timeframe. So, I mean, that's always nice.
But it's always in the back of my head that I need to make more money so I can give my father everything that he's given me plus more so.
I think as wild as one thing, it's one thing talking about, you know, your pride, maybe being a little bit wounded to ask for a loan, both when you, you take a loan and there's again, no pressure from the other side.
But you do wear on your head that it is your responsibility to get that back to them. So I completely get that. Is it in terms of your family, are they huge supporters of your business? Not just financially as well, but obviously they get involved as well in volunteer work or any of your family members actually, you know, on your roster and part of your, your head office team, if you will.
No. They don't have official titles. They do more of filling in with whatever I need when I need it. Like I had a video shoot earlier this year. And I kinda needed so many people at one time, very last minute, because there's things that. You don't think about that. You need that, you need like my uncle, [he] drives this truck for his job, and so we were able to use his truck to put all the stuff that I needed into his truck which I needed helpers to move this stuff. So my brother and my uncle, my father were able to help me move it. And then my sister and my mom were able to help me decorate. And so they are always there. Like hands-on when I needed [it].
So with relation to, you know, having you know, a good relationship with your family and, you know, always being able to, well at the start anyway, to rely on your a bit you know, to, to get you off the ground, how important and how I suppose frequent do you think that is in your personal experience, but also in, you know, people starting their own businesses as well.
Do you think that it's more common than not that everyone kind of does need a little bit of financial assistance to get off the ground, especially when they're brand new and banks mightn't be as generous or offering lines of credits?
Exactly. I would definitely say so, especially because there are things that you, I mean, you write your business plan out and you figure out everything that you need.
You're going to need more than you think you'd ever need. And so just always having the ability or even having the people supporting you to help you out financially can definitely make or break a business.
What were your kind of biggest barriers as starting your entrepreneurial journey as well?
Because, you know, we've talked about. Time, literally just, just not enough time of the day, because which is also a very good thing. Demand was you know, outnumbering your supply, what were some of the other barriers that you faced when you were trying to get Noir Natural Products off the ground?
Definitely. Like you said, if in the beginning, your business is not your primary source of income it would be definitely, definitely difficult to dedicate a whole lot of time to it, especially if you don't have a team of people that are fulfilling different roles - fulfilling all of those roles by yourself is very difficult.
And then I would definitely say finances because the money that you may be making from a job you're putting into your business. Or even borrowing money from family members, like that's an investment to them. Like they're supporting you because they believe that this is something that can work out and be successful.
So I would definitely say having the time delegating and having a team to support you and then having finances available. And then I would also add like the knowledge you don't have to know everything to start a business, but there are so many resources online that can be helpful for you when you do start a business.
And what advice would you give to, you know, other people, other women in your position that are at this stage of, of building a business?
I started my business with maybe what, a hundred dollars as a side hobby. Just something that I felt like could be helpful for me. I didn't believe that this would be something that would be my primary sole source of income.
And even now where we are like looking forward to the future, like it could make a whole lot of money, a whole lot more money. But I would say like, don't be discouraged if you have to start small because starting small will help you to gain all of the knowledge when you grow as a business.
And so when you gain the knowledge, you are also gaining a customer base and you're also gaining revenue along the way. So don't be afraid to start.
Fantastic, and I think personally speaking anyway - that is the dream. You know, it's you know why I'm hosting this podcast. I'm you know, I'm obsessed with all things, audio and media based, and it's always been the dream for me to not necessarily knowing what the dream was, but just to love what I do.
And to enjoy, you know, every day and getting up and doing what you love, because then it's not actually, you know, it is hard work, but it's not hard work that you dread. And I've had so many jobs where I've woken up in the morning and try to going into the office. So I'm going to get into that feeling of you as well.
It's something that you're passionate about and you've been doing it for a few years, and you're already thinking about these big plans for the future. So I already appreciate that.
Daisha, thank you so much for joining me today on The Chirp. I'd love to know, or just pass out information where people can contact you if they want to get in touch about anything from funding or general inquiries to, you know, where can they actually access your shop as well?
So our website is www.noirnaturalproducts.com. It’s n o i r natural products dot com. You can feel free to either email us firstname.lastname@example.org. And then we also have a business line. It's (617)-362-3161, either forms of communication work for us.
Fantastic. Thank you so much.
Well you have to admire that entrepreneurial journey. I said it at the end there, I have nothing but complete respect for someone who takes on one of their passions, creates a business around it and is able to earn a living from doing something they love. I meet so many people who are in a full time, high paying job that are miserable doing what they do.
And I'm no career coach or anything but I always probe a little deeper and ask, what are your passions, what are your favorite hobbies, what do you love in this world? Because there is always a way to make it a source of income for yourself. With the right support, there’s always a way to make it your career. And that’s what Daisha is doing.
It was interesting that Daisha began discussing how her grandfather lent her father money when she was very young. And how it turned out ok! Her dad paid the loan back, things improved, and now we see that carry on to the next generation.
Daisha's dad lent her money to start her own hair care product business. Daisha’s lent her sister money without any hesitation. There is clearly a healthy approach to lending in that family. A support structure and willingness to help out which doesn’t exist everywhere, doesn’t exist in all families.
And another admirable thing I noticed is how Daisha talked openly about getting some financial support from her Dad.
Not many people would talk about that easily, and I think that is also indicative of the family relationship, and her wisdom in knowing that, it's ok to get financial help at the start. It's ok to ask for help and lean on those who care for you while you find your feet.
And now Daisha is at a stage where she can now get credit from a bank and continue to grow. It was just all very wholesome and a good story of how a good product can sell well, but also how a good support structure behind a product, behind a business, is just as crucial as the quality of the product itself.
That’s it for this episode everybody. Please leave us a review of your thoughts, get in touch via my email if you want to appear on the show or have any stories you want to tell or even some general feedback about the show! I’m all ears and would love to chat with our listeners.
We'll be back again in another 2 weeks with another fascinating story so I shall see you then. Until then, take care.