icon-folder-black Entrepreneurship YouTube Content Creation Mindset

Keya James - Journey From Personal Problem Solving To Mainstream Manufacturing

icon-calendar 2021-05-11 | icon-microphone 1h 1m 58s Listening Time | icon-user Debutify CORP

200000+ Stores Are Selling Big With
Debutify. What About Yours?

Debutify takes guessing out of the equation. Build a
high-converting store with confidence.


Today’s story is all about the sincere and noble start by which heroes of ecommerce are made. My guest today Keya James began with a problem in need of solving, and from it came an organic demand from her following. I know a lot of our audience are keen on dropshipping, I sure am. What I want you to take away from this episode is that while you might not have a product you can make from scratch for your own needs, success in this space can start with humble origins, there is growth waiting for you both online and in stores. 

In 2011, Keya James, the founder of Tailored Beauty went natural. After doing research on healthy hair care practices, and starting her “hair journey” she made the decision to avoid relaxers. She started to make her own whipped Shea butter in 2012, which is now known as Everything Butter. She documented this entire journey through her YouTube account under the name Inez Moore. It took some time to perfect the ingredients, but once she did she began giving it to all of her friends and family to try out. The success has come fast, and the business is on a steady climb.



Struggling with conversions, or building a new store? Explode your sales tonight, with Debutify — the highest-converting FREE theme.

✅ Blazing fast       

✅ Sales add-ons  

✅ 24/7 Support

✅ Start Free 14-day Trial ? https://bit.ly/2Rcz0hF

✅ Subscribe to Debutify on YouTube ? https://bit.ly/2DO7YKI

✅ Listen to Debutify Podcast on Youtube? https://apple.co/2R5tfT8


Get answers to all your e-commerce questions from Ricky Hayes, 8-figure entrepreneur!

✅ Join Ecom Dropshipping Masterminds here ? https://bit.ly/32dHCLC


? Instagram: https://bit.ly/2Zn9WJn

? Pinterest: https://bit.ly/32cLso4

? Facebook: https://bit.ly/3jT4dmy

? LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/3m0Vfpj

? TikTok: https://bit.ly/2R6Edb1

? YouTube: https://bit.ly/2DO7YKI


⭐ Free 14-day Trial: https://bit.ly/3bNgru3

⭐ Read the Debutify blog: https://bit.ly/2FgGRIC


? https://feedback.debutify.com/


? https://debutify.com/career


?️ Want To Be A Guest On Debutify Youtube Channel Or Podcast?

If you wish to be part of our channel, we are looking for influencers, known figures, to interview. If this is you, please apply here ? https://go.oncehub.com/DebutifyPodcast


DISCLAIMER: Any advice I give is solely based on my own experience and research. There is no guarantee as there are many variables that will impact your success. Everything stated should be taken as opinion.

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links provided there may be affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the Debutify channel and company, DEBUTIFY CORP.


Tags: #Ecommerce #E-commerce #Shopify #Dropshipping #ShopifyStore #Entrepreneurship #Debutify #tailoredbeautyproducts #haircare #hairindustry #keyajames

Keya James: With customer service, my number one question is, do the customers understand how to use the product? Because if they don't understand how to use the products, then they may think that the products don't work for them. So really understanding, you know, everything on a higher level, and then present it to the customer in a way that, you know, they can understand or they relate to of that's just about understandable these things. So that's pretty much how we're able to really understand the customer. 

Joseph: You're listening to Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind of insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews, with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research. Your time is valuable so let's go.

This episode is all about the sincere and noble start by which figureheads and heroes of e-commerce are made. My guest today, Keya James began with the problem in need of solving and from it came an organic demand from her following. I know a lot of our audience are keen on drop shipping, I sure am. I'm this close, this close. What I want you to take away from this episode is that while you might not have a product you can make from scratch for your own needs, success in this space can and often does start with humble origins. There is growth waiting for you both online, and luckily we're able to learn about this today in stores.

Keya James. It is good to have it here in Ecomonics. How you doing today? How you feeling? 

Keya James: I'm doing good. How are you? 

Joseph: Not too bad. Uh, early morning start for me. It's still a drilling season. So hopefully that's not going to be a factor in this episode and sorry to my recurring audience. I thought drilling season was over, but, uh, I guess the, the, the Groundhog had come out of its hole and said, no, no, no drilling season is going to last another six weeks. So I'm just going to take that. I'm just going to have to roll with it. Opening question for you. One of my favorite questions, Ecomonics tradition. And I've really excited to ask this one today is to tell us who you are and what do you do? 

Keya James: My name is Keya James I'm the owner and CEO of Tailored beauty. Tailored beauty is a premium natural hair care line, um, that is safe for all ages. Um, we use natural ingredients and our products are sold online. Um, through our Shopify store. We sell on Amazon.com as well as Walmart stores. 

Joseph: And that's definitely one thing that I want to touch on because we've, we'll, we'll, we'll get to it in a, in a matter of moments. And what I appreciate is over the course of a lot of the people that I've talked to, for the most part, it all seems to just stay online. And I think the last person that I talked to about Walmart, um, they had mentioned, yeah, it's all at Walmart, but it's sold online. So it even that wasn't available in stores. So that's a breakthrough today, um, for, for us to, to hear about the process of how it managed to become something physical that's available in the store. So we'll get to that. 

Um, so one of the things that I learned about doing this is I, I go onto somebody's YouTube just to, uh, learn what I can in the time that I have and get a sense of their story. And what I saw was, you know, your first wave of content, um, it's a mix of your personal story, uh, with the arrival of your child, as well as its insights into your haircare routine. And I scroll and I scroll through all the way through to the most recent videos and you got to, you're doing a tour of your warehouse for your company.

And that's something that I don't suppose was there from the beginning. So that's, um, what I could tell, but I'd love to learn more about your evolution. So, uh, give us a story about how this, uh, how this started and how you got to the point that you are today. 

Keya James: Yeah, definitely. It started on YouTube. I started, um, my natural hair journey, meaning that I stop using chemicals in my hair. And I wanted to use more natural ingredients. Um, then I had my daughter and I've started, um, using over the counter products. But what I noticed is they had a lot of, um, harsh ingredients that I just didn't feel was suitable for a baby. So I started doing research and just creating products in my kitchen and probably after a year of creating those products and show them my audience, the products online.

Um, I got a demand for the products. So originally we started on etsy.com and that went really well for a year or, or two, but that was more for like a hobby based business. So at that time it was more so a hobby. I was still doing YouTube, making money on a side selling products, but, um, I think in my second year of doing Etsy, that's when we did six figures. And that was before, you know, social media marketing, Facebook marketing at that time that wasn't even heard of. So it was more, so people going to YouTube to find information and they found this information. And then, um, next day we'll go to our stores. So once I realized, okay, this is not really a hobby, this is a business we rebranded.

Um, and that that's when we moved over to Shopify. And from there, um, we outgrew our home, but we, we were scaling and we outgrew our home. So we went from our home to, and this is my family business. This is me, my husband, um, and my mom at the time, we went from a family business to working out of a storage unit. And we did that for a year. Then we moved into a smaller warehouse about half the size of our warehouse now. Um, and today, um, now we're in a uh, I think it's 4,000 square feet, 4,000 square feet warehouse. Um, where we have distribution, we still do our manufacturing in house. Um, while we do some of our products, in-house because we tried to move them over to a manufacturer and the quality doesn't remain consistent. And then we have manufacturers that, um, do our product at mass production for us, the ones that have a little bit more simpler, um, formula to recreate. We, um, use a manufacturer for the goes. So that's kinda how we started. Um, I create all of my formulas, um, from scratch. And this is where we are today. 

Joseph: I, I can't tell but ask some, a hair related questions just because that's one of the, uh, the motifs of this episode. And I, myself, I, I I've been obsessed with my own hair since, uh, uh, since high school. For me, the obsession started because I was developing a crush and I thought, okay, well now I've got to get myself. I, I gotta get my act together. Uh, did it work? No, but you know, uh, it was, it was the beginning of a journey that eventually been paid off.

Uh, and I, and I will say like, I've, I've talked about this before, but like, it takes, it takes quite a while to really like, develop a, a routine for, for, for, and it's not like I'm okay. I'm, I'm kind of vain. I am. I admit that. But, uh, a lot of the time, it's not like I'm trying to pull off some amazing look or anything like that.

I'm just trying to keep everything in order. Like I watched reservoir dogs and I saw like the way they comb their hair back and looked all slick and I thought, that's it. That's that's the, the, the epitome of the style. So I want to ask about the, uh, about the chemicals. You know, we, we live in a pretty chemical life.

Like there's, it's all, uh, it's hard, it's escapable, but it's hard. There's chemicals in food and processed food, uh, chemicals, and not just in our hair products, but in our, in our body products and deodorant from your experience, what did you see where some of the, uh, negative effects that, uh, putting chemicals in their head cause maybe in the short term and in the long-term. 

Keya James: Um, that's what I, once I started, um, taking relaxers out of my hair, which is a chemical process for straightening your hair. Once I stopped using relaxers, um, and being more knowledgeable about the side effects of relaxers, that's when I noticed that they're linked to cancer, they're linked to fibroids, especially in African-American women. Um, You know, I've known people who went through that as well. I'm not saying that the relaxers was the cause of that, but at that something that, you know, can stop me from even developing that I wanted to take that out and not, not just wait hair products, but, um, just what, everything, what I eat, what I drink.

Um, I became more conscious of those things and I eventually became a vegan. Um, so really educating myself on reading ingredients and understanding, okay, this is not a good ingredient. This is a good ingredient. This ingredient is beneficial for this. Um, it really just learning. Um, and it wasn't just, like I said, it wasn't just about hair products.

It was just every day, my everyday life, I became more accustomed to doing that. So when it was time to create formulas, um, I already knew what, what ingredients was not going to go in some of that formulas. 

Joseph: And I don't, I don't know this about the industry and, um, a far be it from any one individual to be the nexus of information about this. But I might, my guess is, is that the, the haircare industry largely leans towards a synthetic product and the, and then in a lot of the cases, and I remember reading about this with you is that there's a lot of products that come across as natural, or they say they're natural, but that's only because they get off on a technicality where there may be like hint of coconut in there.

But for the most part, it's still basically synthetic. So it sounds to me like natural haircare products really are like the pattern interrupt and that there's not nearly as much market share towards those products, even though there should be because it. Yeah. 

Keya James: And actually people are becoming more knowledgeable about that. So they're doing a little bit more research on the stuff that they put in their hair. Um, and you know, at the time when I first started my business, it wasn't as popular, but there was a niche audience for it. Um, now, you know, people don't money, you solve fates in their shampoo because they know that  are linked to different cancers.

They have carcinogens. And, um, and so, um, people are becoming more aware of that. Um, but when I first started, it was a very niche audience.

Joseph:  And yeah, you did. Cause you weren't viewing it as a business. You were saying it was just a hobby and it was just something that you wanted to do to, uh, resolve a problem for yourself, which is something that I really want the audience to spend a moment to think about, because this is something that I've seen in research as well in some of the solo episodes I did at the beginning is that a lot of the businesses that really have a, a place in the market and in the world start from a place of genuine need. Um, an example of this that I had researched as somebody who was trying to feed her, her kid cookies, but she had a lot of allergies and a lot of, um, restrictions.

So she had to find these gluten-free cookies that her kid could eat when she, she makes them herself. And then over time start selling it to other people because the demand for that was far more than I think a lot of these cookie companies who do the research could ever have discovered. So what were you doing, uh, prior to, to this, uh, in your line of work? I understand it was, uh, it was in counseling. 

Keya James: Yeah. I was a licensed professional counselor. Um, so I did that. I was actually, I just finished grad school when I had my daughter and my daughter is seven. So I had just finished grad school when I, I had her. So, um, I specialize in counseling and if you watch some of my older videos with her, that's a lot of what I talk about is, you know, doing a child's hair is all about a bond, um, and creating a bond with your child.

So, um, You know, I was showing the products, but I was also giving them some type of value as well, using my experience and using my expertise on how to communicate with your child, how to create this bond through a process of an hour or hour long process of doing hair. 

Joseph: One thing that I tend to ask is if there were any skills or any, um, uh, perspectives that had joined or came with you when you transitioned into e-commerce.

Keya James: Yes, even now is still a skill that I use. Um, counseling is all about solving a problem. Um, usually when somebody comes in my office, they have a problem. And my job as a counselor is not to solve the problem for them, but to give them the tools in order to be able to solve that problem. So, um, a lot of our customers, one of the main issues that they have is there there's something in a hair care routine that they don't understand how to do. Um, so one of the things that I decided is, okay, I can't solve everybody's problem, but we can actually, we can have a solution for the problems that they may have. So we developed a quiz on our website, uh, which is a plugin for Shopify. And basically I developed a quiz based on a lot of questions that were being asked. Um, a lot of questions that were being asked on social media, emails, even me and people in person on, um, at trade shows and really just taking hours. It took me about a month to develop this quiz, um, and create specific different regimens for people to, um, have based on what the issue was. 

So let's say I was a counselor, your job as a client would be to go home and do the homework that I give you. So in this case, the regimen is the homework that regimen is, do being provided with the tools and putting that into your everyday life so that it could be successful for you.

Joseph: I think what it does too, is that it puts the customer in the right place for them to then know what product they need, because if the product is somewhat of a mystery to them, or sorry at the problem is somewhat of a mystery to them, then they're not going to quite know what the solution is. And so they end up buying something that doesn't really help and, and they, and they're left with a negative view of the product because it didn't solve the problem cause they didn't even know what the problem is. And I will say too, by the way, I was trying to fill this quiz out. Um, I, I didn't go all the way just because it, for, for the, for the purposes of time, it had asked me to, uh, to, to, to write out an answer. And I said, okay, well, okay, hang on.

I'm just, I'm just researching here. I, this, this, this is a long story. Uh, and also I should have stopped when it asked me what porosity is. Cause I don't even know what porosity is. If you don't mind. I mean, we could all look it up on Google, but I, I like to hear your expertise on it. 

Keya James: Um, porosity is basically how well your hair holds moisture.

So there's three types of porosity. That's high porosity, low porosity and normal porosity, um, here. And just depending on how well your hair holds moisture, that determines your porosity levels and what type of products, um, you should use. So for example, if your hair has high porosity, you may not want to use heavy. Um, you may not want to use heavy products on your hair because your hair absorbs moisture very well. 

Joseph: I'm going to ask you one more follow up question for this, and then I'll move on his back on, uh, uh, back on track is, uh, as the audience understands, um, I am a bit of a haircut, so I don't even know how to know if my hair holds moisture or not. Like I I'm, I, I'm not sure. Like, I don't know how to exactly quantify that. Like, does it, do I have to like run my hand through my hair and feel how long the dampness last for. 

Keya James: Well, there's two ways that people determined that well, that I know of right now, everything's always changing. And then that's, your hair could be me.

So tomorrow might be some something different. But what I know of right now is there's two ways. If your hair, if you go in the shower and your hair immediately absorbs water. Um, then that's a way that you can determine your porosity, how you're hair, how you're hair um, absorbs water. Another way is a strand test where you just find either find a strand of hair laying around or, um, kind of strand off your head at the floats and that will determine your veracity as well.

Joseph: Okay. I might have to try that.

So I want to get back to the product development because, uh, again, it bears repeating that this was something that you had needed personally, you had developed it personally in your kitchen, and now it's, it's available on shelves at Walmart. What I want to know about is not just with that product, but throughout the different product line is, um, if your development process had remained consistent with each subsequent product that you had worked on, or if with the additional expertise and additional resources as if your development phase had had changed. 

Keya James: That's a good question. That's a really good question. There's not really a yes or no to that question because, um, it does remain consistent, but it has changed at the same time. So it's remained consistent because the same quality and standards of ingredients that I use in the product is very consistent.

Um, so, uh, for example, like we spoke about using, um, products that don't contain harmful ingredients. That's always going to be consistent with my company as well as products that are safe for all ages, because we are a family brand. That's always going to be consistent with our company. Now, what has changed is that I realized in order to, uh, go into the retail space. I'm not a chemist. I can create products all day long, but at the end of the day, I'm not a chemist. So I had to, um, one of the things that we, I first did when I first started making products in my kitchen was I would do my own stability tests. And the stability test basically is how long does your product remain stable without going rancid?

And I would do these stability tests where I would create a product. I would leave up in a cabinet for up to a year sometimes. And if it didn't mold, then that means that the product remains stable based on how I created it. Um, but, um, and working and, you know, meeting manufacturers, I was able to connect with the chemist, so have, uh, develop these formulas, um, develop these ideas and bring them to a chemist in order for them to, you know, do the scientific work on making sure everything remains stable and also making sure that it meets the quality standards for retail.

Um, because had I been doing this, you know, years ago when I first started doing, putting it in a cabinet and what it is not going to cut it. Um, so the answer your question, everything remains consistent, but it's all about making sure that we provide a very safe product, um, that you know, is not going to go bad or nothing's going to happen from using this product. And, you know, sometimes we see that with a lot of hobby based businesses is that they have really, really great formulas. Um, but the shelf life is, you know, the shelf life doesn't last a long time. So making sure that it has a long shelf life is really important to me. 

Joseph: I can understand that. I mean, I, I can imagine that with a synthetic, uh, product is that they can also get away with using more preservatives so that it does, uh, last longer, whereas I'm what would be, what would be the natural equivalent of a preservative.

Keya James: A naturally a equivalent of a preservative. There are natural preservative. So there's, um, synthetic preservatives that are harmful, but there are also natural preservatives. Like one of the ones that we widely use is called . Um, it's a natural preservative that we use in a lot of our products. Um, that's, you know, very safe and very natural.

Joseph: I'm gonna ask you about, um, one other product in your, in your line, just so that I can get a picture of the difference between the first product and your most recent product. So, um, as much as you're willing to reveal, right, we don't want to hear all the secrets, but watch it.

I do want to hear all the secrets, but I don't blame you for not saying them is, can you tell us about the development of whatever it is? It's your most recent? 

Keya James: Let me think. What is my most recent product? 

Joseph: Within the ballpark. Like it doesn't have to be like the very last one facet finished line, but just to compare the difference between how the first one came about versus the most recent ones.

Keya James: So we have two different lines within our products. We have the ultima collection. That was the one that I first developed that we see on YouTube. And, you know, we see in the early stages of our business, then we have another line of products called the ultimate collection. And they were both developed the same way.

Um, but you know, once I started learning more about my consumer, um, I had to understand how can I develop products that might consumers need, um, and that my consumers want and what exactly is the demand right now for the type of products that they need. Um, so that's a little bit different because at the beginning I was using ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil, um, You know, more common oils, but I realized that medicinal ingredients, which I was at at, at one time, I was a little bit afraid to get into that market, um, because they were a little too, Oh, that's, that's really, really, really, really natural for me.

Um, but I realized after playing around with them, these are some great ingredients that have really, really, really great benefits. And I think that our customers would really love and appreciate these products. So some of the things that have changed is really making sure that we always keep the customer in mind because when I had, when I had a hobby, it was more so about what I wanted and what I could sell based on what I wanted.

And as our business grew, we had to understand what the customer wants and how we can develop those products for the customer.

Joseph: I'm gonna add that to my cue, because they didn't want to talk about just how you interact with customers. So that's an cute, um, the next one that I want to know about is, is scaling. So just to understand like, kind of like where economics comes from, that is the first time I said  that's okay. I'm gonna get, want to keep track of that.

That's okay. So where our show comes from is, uh, scaling is an important, uh, element to this because there is some upfront cost. And then we, we want to this, we do have to spend money on our Facebook advertisements. Um, but we want to use that those initial ads so we can understand who our consumers are and then, and then scale.

And that's when it all makes it worthwhile. Now I'm thinking that there is a challenge between scaling products with natural ingredients versus scaling products with synthetic ingredients, because I imagined synthetic ingredients are easier to make at scale. So you did touch on this, um, at the beginning, just, you know, what's in house versus what's, uh, what's manufactured.

So. Uh, what was the, what were some of the challenges or obstacles that you had faced in trying to scale, uh, products with, um, with a, with a line of natural ingredients or actually another way of saying it is, was there a challenge or would it have been about the same if you had just sold. I dunno. 

Keya James: Yeah, this is very, very challenging because, um, when you, when you have a really natural product, it costs a lot of money to make.

So that's the first challenge is being able to mass produce a product and still being able to have a customer who can afford to buy the product because you don't want to go into mass production and they've already been accustomed to paying one price point, and now they have to pay a totally different price point, um, because you've decided to go into mass production.

So the biggest challenge was really finding the right manufacturer, who did not want to skimp on any of the ingredients that we wanted. Um, and so the biggest challenge was actually finding a manufacturer who would keep our formulas consistent. I think we went through about, we went, we test, we tested up several manufacturers before we found our number one manufacturer who really not only did they, um, you know, understand how important it was for us to have those ingredients consistent with the product, but really knowing my chemist and showing my chemist, okay, this is the exact process of how I make my products when we do it in mass production, it still has to be made the same exact way with the same exact machines, the same exact ingredients. And sometimes manufacturers don't want to do that because they work with other companies and it's easy to create a base formula.

And that's just something that we weren't willing to compromise on. We wanted the quality, um, to remain consistent. And that was definitely the biggest challenge. 

Joseph: Yeah. I, I will say it it's somewhat of a relief to know that you had a manufacturer's that you could reach out to because I can see it being intimidating to oh, no. Do I have to set up my own factory? Do I have to manufacture all these? Myself is my, is my house going to turn into like an Acme? Uh. 

Keya James: It did at one point it was like, yeah, it definitely was. And you know, we still manufacture two of our products in house. Um, one of our products that we match manufactured in house is our everything butter.

Um, so we have all the standards for manufacturing that, and then we have another product, um, which is our clay detox soap that is also manufactured and in house. And that was really important to me when I got this warehouse is to actually have a dedicated production room, just to be able to manufacture those products because those products are really, really, really difficult to make at a mass production. Um, so we made the decision to continue to keep those, um, products in house for the life time of our company. 

Joseph: Okay. Last one about that. But, uh, uh, how, how has the meaning demand been? Yep. Yep. 

Keya James: It's better. Um, it's better. Um, 2020 was very difficult. It was very challenging because of the pandemic, but that was our, you know, that that year is when our business really scaled. We in 2020, we made more in our business that year than we had made in the lifetime of our company. Um, prior, prior to that, so you think that, oh, well I'm a pandemic would, you know, hurt someone's business that actually did the opposite for ours because, um, people wanted to know how to do their hair at home because they didn't no longer want it to go to a shop to go get their hair done.

So now you have people who are really, um, interested in doing it. Then our Facebook ads took off our, everything just took off that year. But the biggest challenge was that a lot of our components like our jars, our taps were made overseas. And so this, there was a shortage across our industry where, you know, even our competitors didn't have any jars or taps.

So that left us with a limited amount of products that we could sell. So we had to be really creative in how we were selling those products and making sure we met the customer's demand. Um, but even with, you know, sometimes even half of our products and stock. We still were able, we scaled to remem tremendously with that.

Joseph: Yeah, I guess I, I didn't, uh, it didn't occur to me. I should have, because it's really quite, uh, uh, quite obvious, but not only would, would your company run into a roadblock with the container containers, but so was everybody else because I, I couldn't name a company off the top of my head that would have been manufacturing, all of that, you know, here, uh, here in the West. So that that's, that's a valid observation. All right. 

So the Walmart question I've been waiting for this one because I am, I'm eager to know how, uh, and again, it's, it's up to you, how much you want to reveal. There's any secrets you want to give to yourself? It's all good, but at what point did you reach out to them? Did they reach out to you? And how did, uh, w what did, what did you have to go through? Paperwork had to sign, whatever it is you willing to tell us. I'd love to know. 

Keya James: Yeah. So Walmart, um, and I'm very transparent about my journey as an entrepreneur. Uh, if you watched my YouTube channel Keya J, you'll see, like, I am very transparent about that.

Um, so it, it, it took a long time. I will say that it wasn't something that just happened overnight. And Walmart said, hey, I want your products. It did not happen like that. Um, and it's something that we had to know that we were ready for when you're, when you're selling to a big box distributor, your company has to be in a financial situation in order to do that.

Um, as well as you have to be able to um, placed the maintain those purchase orders that they do for you. So I would say, you know, if you don't have a warehouse, you don't have manufacturing, you don't have all of those things. You're not even in a situation to sell and big box stores. Um, and amazon.com was our practice for big box stores. Because a lot of those, a lot of stuff that you go through on Amazon is I want to say a similar, but it prepares you for that process. So, um, w we actually pitched to Walmart twice. Um, the first time we pitched to Walmart, um, it didn't work out, um, and they gave us some really, really good feedback. So with the feedback that they provided us with, um, we use the feedback and we took the feedback and we, it helped us, it helped develop us as better business people.

Um, and if I think back at that time, um, what ha what I have been successful, probably not. I probably would have been in this store, but I don't know if I could have stayed in the store, which is two different things. Um, because when you, when you're not no longer in a store, There's a lot of challenges that come with that because you have to buy back your products at full price.

So sometimes when people go into big box stores, they end up going out of business. So the first time they did educate me on a process, I learned a lot. Um, and I pitched to several retailers as well. And, uh, at that time we actually was at another store, um, called Navy exchange, which is, um, it's, it's a base store.

And we learned a lot during that process. Um, so the second time around when we did pitch pitch, they're like, hey, you know, we love your brand. We think your brand would be perfect for our store. We want to do it. And. You know, it is scary to be in a big box store, um, because there's so much that comes with it as well. Your staff increases, um, your purchase orders with your manufacturer increases. And so, um, you have to be ready for that as well as all of the marketing efforts that come with it. So it was a challenge. It took, it took a long time, but I would say that, um, to anybody who is thinking about being in a, uh, a retailer, like really focused on growing your business and making sure that, you know, you can meet the demands of being a scalable online business before you even think about retail, um, as that's the route that you want to go.

Joseph: A couple of like sub questions that, um, uh, that occurred to me, um, one of them is specifically about what feedback that had given you. 

Keya James: Um, the feedback that they gave me is more so like on how the product looks. I'm trying to figure out how I can give an example of this. Um, do you ever go on a shelf and something just looks so great. You want to buy it? Or the text is so large. You can read it. It was just little things like that that really helped us to, um, actually make the product look better in order to, to, um, be more appealing to the customer. I think that was our number one feedback, as well as, you know, how different is this product from your competitors, which is, I mean, anybody's going to give you that advice, whether it's Walmart or anyone else is what makes your product different, what makes your product stand out and really being able to develop, um, develop that story as well.

Um, because if you look at, you know, two of the same products with the same ingredients is a reason why somebody wants one product as opposed to another product. So really being able to stand out on a shelf with your products. 

Joseph: Right. Shopping. Um, in, in person is, is a highly visual experience. And, uh, as, as somebody who does go through the haircare aisle, uh, I would, I would, I noticed that over time I can identify brands just from the color profile, from a distance.

Um, and, and I can visually, I can see in my mind some of the ones that I buy now, granted, I am kind of blanking on the names of them. Uh, I, I remember the name of my deodorant, but I'm, can't remember the name of the, uh, of the conditioner that I use. So we're going to have to work on that, but what I can understand is products are, are, are tightly compacted.

You know, they're, they're trying to make as much use of the space as possible while also not turning it into a, um, a chaotic jungle of a shopping experience. So for that reason color profile, uh, your primary color, your secondary color, uh, what font, if even if I couldn't like read the letter exactly depending on my distance, knowing the color that they use of the letters actually. Moves it quite, uh, uh, quite a ways so that that'll, that'll, uh, that all makes a great deal of sense. I think the other thing that I, that I'm wondering too, is just about, you know, within your own, uh, trajectory is if you, what vision you had for where you want it to go.

Because I think deciding on what stories you want to sell then does convey a lot about the brand. I will say, like if something isn't a Walmart, it does convey a mass market appeal because Walmart's are, you know, even here, here in Canada, we got, we got plenty of them too. Um, whereas I think if you had a vision, um, more for it, what was the other name of the store?

The other one that you were selling in. Would that be more of a boutique store or is that more, I don't know. I don't know that one because I think that's a US only. 

Keya James: Well, it's actually a military only store. Yeah. So basically in, um, the, the buyer for that store was really interested in selling our products at the Navy exchange.

And basically Navy exchange is if you ever go to like a base, there's like a store on base where they sell, you know, It's basically like a little Walmart, a mini Walmart for the people who's on base. And so I think we were in over a hundred Navy exchange stores, but not just Navy exchange stores here in the US, um, in other countries as well.

Did I imagine my products to be a Navy exchange from the very beginning of our company? No. Did I think it was a good decision to make from my company? Yes. Because, um, because as I learned my competitors are in that store. Um, my consumer is shocked there. Um, Navy exchange is a store where and if you, you know, have access to an army base is not as the whole family is shopping at this.

So it became, once I became knowledgeable about what it was and how it could really help my business. Um, and it wasn't going to cut my prices or anything like that. I decided that it was a great opportunity for our business. 

Joseph: It's a good thing that you said the family too. I sort of figured that out, but at first I thought, why are the people in the military shopping for haircare? I thought everybody cuts their hair. Okay. That makes sense. And then I don't, I don't know. Maybe you were selling something that is good for the, uh, the, uh, for the bald heads, like, like a scalp, a scalp, I don't know, moisturizer something like that. 

Keya James: Military or your family member of the military. You can go to the store and shop. And it's tax-free.

Joseph:  One more about this just cause, uh, I just wanted to take this opportunity to ask, but did the families live in on the, on the barracks or, cause I would imagine that the like the soldier might not be close to his own home. 

Keya James: I'm not sure. 

Joseph: Fair enough. Fair enough. 

Keya James: I don't know much about the military, but I do know, I do know from our customers who were excited, like I know one of our customers have went to Hawaii, but she shopped at the base store in Hawaii.

She went on base and shop in Hawaii. So, um, from my, I, I don't think they live on the base, but I don't want to be incorrect about the information. 

Joseph: Okay. No, no worries. Yeah, that, that, that was just, that was a stretch I admit. Uh, and I do know somebody who was a former Marine, so I'll just, uh, I'll just talk to him about it.

Okay. So I want to ask about, uh, your, your consumer research methods, um, cause you've been very connected with your, uh, well at first they weren't buyers, but you know, eventually they became your customers and you've been connected with them for a long time. And, and I think that's really important because it, it, it, it lays out this foundation of trust and these people that, you know, that are there to support you and you're there to support them.

Um, so at the place that you are now, um, what do you do to find out your customer's needs? Um, Facebook posts. You do your survey. I know about, I know about that one. What else do you do? 

Keya James: Right now, my business has changed so much that, you know, at the beginning I could communicate what my customer is. I could respond to comments. I could do do all of those things. Um, right now, um, we do have somebody who just solely does customer service. So that really helps, um, when we're having team meetings, um, our customer service person is in our marketing meetings, for example, because even though customer service and marketing are two different things, marketing has to know what customer service needs.

Um, and I need to know what the customers want. Um, another thing that I do, I haven't been able to do this because of the pandemic. Um, but we do a lot of trade shows and I try to be present at every single trade show that we have. Um, we do in the past, we were doing about seven to 10 trade shows a year.

So it wasn't just, you know, talking to somebody behind the phone or talking to somebody at a screen. It was like talking to people in person and really understand, you know, touching their hair, filling their hair, you know, dumb telling me what their issue was. Um, and of course the quizzes are a huge, huge, huge one, um, that we use to understand, you know, what our customer's issues are because there's, uh, there's one question on a quiz that says, um, what is, what problems are you having with your hair?

It's an open-ended sentence. You can use one word. You can use 500 words. We want to know what problems. You're having what you're here and, um, with customer service, my number one question is, are the customers, do the customers understand how to use the products? Um, because if they don't understand how to use the products, then the products, they may think that the products don't work for them. Um, so, you know, when we integrate all of those things, not only are we understanding the customer, but we're meeting the customer where they are, because we're producing content that actually shows the customer, okay, you want this type of hairstyle. These, this is the regimen that's right for you. Or you want, um, your hair has this problem.

This is the regimen that's right for you. So really understanding, you know, everything on a higher level and then present it to, to the customer and the way that, you know, they you know, they can understand, or they relate to, at some times that's just about understanding all of these things and producing content in the form of a real, um, on Instagram. Um, so that's pretty much how we're able to really understand, you know, the customer. 

Joseph: And at this point, I want to ask a little bit about the layout of the, of the hair niche, and I'm hoping to accomplish at least one of two things. I don't think I'm gonna accomplish both for each individual person, but on one hand, I imagine some people might be interested in the, in the, in the hair niche anyways.

Um, but on the other hand, I would also like to use this as a chance to compare how specific the hair in each can get versus house. So that people can keep in mind. Well, this is the specificity of this, and then maybe there's, there's a similar specificity to other ones. However, they choose to move into their markets.

I know that from reading it, uh, it's it's it's curly hair. Um, I think, I think that's one half of it I'm blanking on what was the, the other that you focus on, but like, what can you tell us about the, about the hair nation? How specific this really gets? 

Keya James: It is very specific. And I'll talk about this at that answer this question, but, um, is very specific. Um, Because there's so many different types of hair. Um, and you know, our, our motto for Tailored beauty is,  um, what rgimene works for her may not work for you. That's why, you know, our name is Tailored beauty because our products are tailored for you. Um, so really understanding, um, those different hair types is what's gonna make you successful your resumes.

So there's kinky hair types, there's curly hair types and are there's wavy. And then they're straight. Our products are specifically for kinky and curly hair tight. Um, and so there is, you know, you can be kinky or you can be curly. Your hair could be high porosity, low porosity, high porosity, normal, low porosity, normal porosity. You can have chemically colored hair that changes your porosity. There are so many different elements to how your hair could be, but when you kind of like get all of those things and figure it out, you can actually figure out what products work for you. Um, so we're specific to kinky and curly hair types, and then everything else we help you figure out the rest.

Um, and I, and what I was gonna say was, I understand why you would ask that question. Um, because when I think about my brand, I think about what I want my brand to look like 10 years from now and with different, you know, do I just only want to focus on hair and do I want to focus on beauty? And that's something that I want to focus on. Um, and I started formulating skincare products. And I realized there is so much to creating a skincare product that makes it so complicated that, oh, how do people do it? And I think people might look at hair products like that too. Like how do you do it? There is so complex. So I can completely understand, um, why you would even ask that question because it does sound very complicated. 

Joseph: And it is, but at the same time, I also think it's encouraging because no matter how specific a person's, uh, view of the world is, or not how much specific their taste is, there is a market that they can be an expert in.

And it's funny too, because you're saying like a, a skincare products and, and being Italian, uh, any skincare product would also technically have to be a haircare product because there's no surface where it's just, uh, it's just skin. Uh, so I'm not going to dwell too much on that. So, uh, with, uh, with work in talking with customers, um, so the research I understand, but because you have so much, um, you have, you have your responsibilities, you have your, you have control over the company. Um, how do you set up your, uh, or I guess I should ask it, if you set up incentive programs, like what kind of promotions you typically run, uh, how you incentivize customers, get the emails, that kind of thing?

Keya James: Um, we, um, because our business, um, started online, we, we rely heavily on digital marketing. Um, so we do provide our customers with incentives. Um, and in order to receive those as incentives, you would have to be on a mailing list. Um, so we do use Klayvio, uh, for our mailing list and a lot of our incentives are set through mailing lists.

Uh, at one time we did have a points program through Shopify, um, but we realized it wasn't really converting very well. So we got rid of that. Um, and then sales, um, we, we are not a sale brand. Um, and we want our customers to know that, like we're not a sale brand. You're not going to get a sale every week, every month.

Um, we may have, I think at most we have five sales a year and that's still a lot for our company. Um, so we don't have a lot of sales, but if you are a customer, we, we do retarget our customers. So let's say a customer purchase and it's time for them to re up on their products. Um, Klayvio allows for flows to automatically, um, tell those customers to come back and shop, but you get a discount that nobody else is able to receive because we don't have any sales.

Um, so we definitely give incentives to our customers, to new customers. Um, but we are not a sale brand. 

Joseph: I'm not going to be able to, um, uh, completely formulate like what would be the, uh, the, the, the cost margins of it? So I guess what I'll ask instead is, um, it, there's two, cause there's two components. How much of it is how, how it would affect your perception? People's perception of you? Cause if they, if you, cause I like the, what you're saying is like, you're not a sale brand. So if somebody has a perception that a brand will often have sales, then that does influence their behavior. So there's that. And then the other side too, is just margins and how much it would actually end up costing you if. Even if it converts in, in the moment it ends up costing in the long run. 

Keya James: I think it's more of the first where we are more so we don't want people to only buy because it's a sale. Um, whereas you know, when it's not a sale brand, you kind of get that consistent flow of customers.

You kind of understand, you know, what revenue goals you have to hit. But also when those sales do come, you have an amazing sale and you're prepared for those sales. The worst thing that can happen is you buy something on sale. And three months later is when you received the product. So when we typically, when we do have sales, um, those are huge days for us.

Um, so we want to be prepared for that, but I believe that if we had sales like every week or so, we wouldn't have that same type of demand when a sale that's happened. Um, also with any sale, you know, your margins are not going to be the same. So that's another thing that we have to be prepared for. Like for instance, our black Friday sale, um, we always make six figures on that sale date. So that means everything that we have to do in order to make up for the margin that's missed. We have to make sure that, um, we're making up for it. So we have to communicate with our, um, what ups to let them know, hey, you know, there's going to be a high demand, you know, can we get a good rate at this time? We have to make sure packaging equipment is cheaper. We have to, um, do bigger purchase orders so that we could get the stuff that a lower price. So we do kind of miss the margin a little bit, but we're not going to be at a bad place if we have a sale like that. 

Joseph: And that's one thing for the audience to take away too, is, um, just keep in mind how a consumer sees you and how that's going to affect when they'll convert and when not they'll convert and it's, and I, and I appreciate that while you're not running too many sales. That's the ones you do run are significant and, and it, and it feels like that this actually is a sale. Cause I will say I've bought plenty of things and oftentimes I see, oh, you're on sale. Are you? Yeah. Okay. All right. I come back a week later. Oh, you're on sale. Are you? Uh, I see it's it's oh, I, oh, it's the, it's the summer of the eternal Equinox sale. Oh yes, of course. Yes. I'm a big fan of that, of that calendar date. Okay. 

Keya James: Yeah, sometimes that 30% off might not even be good enough for you to want to buy because when they had the summer Equinox sale, it was 50% off. 

Joseph: We are closing in on the hour mark and, and I got to say, you've given us a lot of really great insights into this. Um, a lot of takeaways. Um, there's one here. Uh, I wanted to ask as well, cause I, I, I looked at your interview on, uh, on naturally curly and uh, one piece of advice that you give is to focus on learning all of the aspects of the business before proceeding with it. And I will say just so our audience understands we've had, we, I think this is like the 80th person I've talked to.

I dunno by about the 50th interview. I've lost count, but we definitely have a lot of different opinions on this. We have the, the jump in and learn as you go school of hard knocks opinion. We have the train before you go opinion. We have, um, people who are for a balanced. We have, I mean, I, I there's, there's ones that I'm not thinking of top of my head, but there's certainly like a wide array of them.

And so I definitely want to get your take on how this goes, but I wanted to specify it because I know you have, you have a business degree and I needed to go to school for it. So what I'm wondering about is like what, and the school didn't give you everything you needed to know, uh, to do what you're doing today, but what did you have to learn on your own versus what did school prepare you for? 

Keya James: So school didn't really teach me anything about running a business. Um, it'll probably reveal my age, but I graduated from school in 2007. 

Joseph: I'm 2009, so we're not far off. 

Keya James: So, uh, in 2007, there was no courses on email marketing, social media, marketing, um, psychology of, uh, online consumer.

There were none of these type of courses at that time. So a lot of that stuff I had to learn on my own. And, and you asked me what approaches it, um, is it kind of the train before I learned, because it was a hobby for me, it wasn't a perfect moment. Like some people build up this perfect moment, but for me it wasn't a perfect moment.

It was, I would say one year, our business did not do good. And that was because we hired out so many people that, um, were experts that really weren't experts and not to bash those people. I have to take accountability for my hiring practices. I had to take accountability that I hire people to manage Facebook ads or manage email campaigns, to manage social media, to manage all of these aspects of my business. And I wasn't growing in that area as an entrepreneur. So after that year, um, you know, I let those people go and I really invested the money that I was going to invest in other people, I invested that in myself. Um, so I learned how to do Facebook marketing. Um, I went to different events. Um, I went to different Shopify events.

I went to different Klayvio events and now I know everything to look for. Um, I'm actually about to start hiring out on my Facebook ads, but I learn how to do my own ads. I learned how to do my own email marketing, my own flows and things like that. Um, but you know, I think the approach is based on a person me personally, I based on some of my mistakes, um, the best advice I would give is to really take your time and learn and not just you know, learn on YouTube, go out there, go to seminars, go to events, go to three or four day long events where they're going to provide you with valuable information, um, so that you could grow as an entrepreneur. But now if I hire someone, I already know the red flags to look for. 

Joseph: Yeah. And, and, and you know what, um, because of having done it yourself, you you're hiring somebody. Okay. Now, not only do, do you know whether or not they're still that, but you also know how to guide them and how to make sure that they're doing the job in the way that you see fit.

Uh, so Keya that's, uh, that's everything that I, uh, but I had, um, and I will, and I will say it was, it was quite a bit, um, uh, definitely a lot to take in. Um, I'm going to, I'm going to cap off. This is nothing to do with anything else that we've talked about, but, uh, cause I know you said you, you went vegan and, uh, between, uh, my dietary restrictions on my girlfriend, dietary restrictions, we run into a lot somehow steak managed to, to, to pass both of our muster.

So that's, I am an omnivore, but, uh, I, I would like to know just some of the, uh, the vegan recipes that you do. Like what typically you do for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? 

Keya James: Um, breakfast, you see what I was eating? I ate fruits. Honestly, my diet could be a whole lot better. Um, since I've moved to this warehouse is not in like our other warehouse was like in a more trendy, um, city area. So I had all the good spots. Like I would eat a green juice every day, eat avocado toast. Um, but now that I'm responsible for my own own food, I eat a lot of fruits for breakfast. Um, lunch is always leftovers from the day before or Uber eats. Honestly, Uber eats has a really good, um, filter where you can just put vegan.

Um, so, and then dinner, my family is not vegan. So for example, tonight is taco Tuesday and everything, and the taco is the same, but the protein. So they're going to have chicken. And I'm going to have, I think tonight I'm going to do chickpeas instead. Um, but we pretty much eat the same. It's just about switching out the proteins. 

Joseph: Have you ever tried um, a DVP? 

Keya James: What's that? No. 

Joseph: Okay. Well, I, here in Toronto, we have the, uh, w we have the hipster nexus called Kansas and market. Uh, and, uh, there was a burrito place. It was all, it was all vegan and it was called the texture to vegan protein. It was just, it was an attempt to try to get as close to yeah. 

Keya James: I'm not a fan of the fake meat. There's something about the texture that I can't. It's the texture. 

Joseph: Yeah. I, I dunno. I always like him when I first eat him and then like, I'll, I'll eat it again. And then the, the spice profile starts to wear away at me. Like this is so spicy, not Benny. Anyways. That's a, the, in a enough about that. If you ever wanted to come back and let us know how your, uh, your recipes have evolved. You're more than welcome to. 

Keya James: To that I've done a lot of interviews and you really did your research. Like I'm really impressed by the amount of research that you did for this interview. Um, I'm just like blown away. So you did a really good job. 

Joseph: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. And, uh, and, and I will say is like, I'm, I, I, I'm an immediate for 10 years, you know, I, I do consider myself a professional and in fact, a few other people do too. So that helps. But when I, when I talk to my guests, I understand how valuable their time is. And it's really important to me to make sure that if I'm going to have this interview with them, I'm going to do the best I can to make sure that like this interview is some, is it sets the benchmark for what they should expect out of an interview. So I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do. 

Keya James: Yeah. You did a great job. 

Joseph: Thank you so much. 

Keya James: And the emails, um, um, making sure. And, you know, the, the email flows from the beginning up until like the last minute, those were really good. 

Joseph: Yeah. Well, that part is not me. That is a that's my boss, Ricky he's very good at, uh, at forum had a form and flow. So that, that was all him. So, uh, credit goes to him in that regard, but yeah. 

Um, this, this has been great, uh, as I've said three times now, because I am keeping track, uh, definitely lots to take away from, uh, and door's always open. So things could come along, give herself a couple of quarters and see how things are you want to come back and let us know things are going. And one of the welcome to have you back. 

Keya James: Thank you so much. 

Joseph: You're welcome. Oh, I have to give you our inner question, which is if you have any last minute advice or any parting words, you'd like to share with people and more than welcome to, and then let the audience know how they can reach out, find your YouTube, find your store, maybe get some of that. Uh, some of that, some of the haircare products. 

Keya James: Um, if I have any advice, I would be like when it comes to business, just do it. If you have an idea that you want to do, just do it. Um, and it'll take off. Um, but you have to be really dedicated and consistent to everything that you do. Um, and one of the things that I wish I would have done better early on what my business is really took the time to network.

So if you see someone who you really admire, or if you come across people face to face, um, connect with them because connections are so valuable when you become an entrepreneur. But you guys can find me on the internet. Um, you can find me on Instagram. My personal Instagram is Keya James K E Y A James underscore, um, saying what my YouTube channel Keya J um, I do a lot of entrepreneurship videos. So if you're interested to see how my journey looks from start to finish, I'd definitely have a playlist that's just solely based on entrepreneurship. And you can find Tailored beauty at Walmart stores in the US, or, um, go to our website, tailoredbeautyproducts.com. 

Joseph: Let me, let me know when they're in Canada, by the way. 

Keya James: I will.

Joseph: Excellent. Alright. Uh, audience, uh, as always, uh, it is an honor to be able to collect and then provide this information to you. And, uh, thank you once more for giving some of your time to us. So with that take care and we'll check in soon.

Thanks for listening. You might've found this show on many number of platforms, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google play, Stitcher, or right here on Debutify. Whatever the case, if you enjoy this content and want to help us thrive, please take a few moments to leave a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you think is best.

We also want to hear from you. So whether you think you'd be a good guest or want to weigh in on anything related to our show, you can email a podcast@debutify.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok. 

Finally, this podcast is created by the passionate team at Debutify. If you're ready to take the plunge into e-commerce or are looking to up your game, head over to Debutify.Com and see how it can change your life and the lives of many you do next.

Written by

Debutify CORP

200000+ Are Reading The Debutify Newsletter.


Get bite-sized lessons from the world of e-commerce. Improve your business in 5 minutes a week. Subscribe today:

Be A Guest On Debutify
Podcast & YouTube Channel

We're on a mission to help ecommerce owners start, scale and succeed in business. Have valuable lessons to share? Apply and become a guest on our channel today.