It was such an honor to interview Alex. We meet about 2.5 years ago in Media Coach Mark Costello Hosting Bootcamp class. We actually sat right next to each other. I remember she was telling me about her hair care line she was working on and that she was taking the hosting class to help with her public speaking for her brand. Now that was back in 2015! Fast Forward to 2017 and her brand has grown so much. I love success stories and hearing when someone puts their all into their brand that they will produce great results. Culture is well on its way to reaching the level of success Alex has planned. Check out our interview below!
AM: So I know the name of your brand is called Culture and is the tagline “beautifully diverse?” Like is that like the tagline for it?
Alex: Yes, it is!
AM: Okay, so what was your vision behind the name? Like I said… I think your name is very simple, it’s literally one word like it literally describes your brand to the T,! Oh how do I word this… Like you know… the audience your brand is geared towards, the name [itself], just everything about it, [the name, “Culture”] described it to the T. How did you guys come up with that name? What was the vision behind it?
Alex: Oh.. man, you have no idea. The name Culture… like you know, we made this product and we didn’t [really] think of making a name. So that was one of the biggest stressors we’ve actually encountered. We wanted it to represent a majority of what is going on in the world today. And that’s culture. Everybody is cultrified. I mean, you have people who are German and Irish. You have people who are Black and White. You have people who are Mexican and Black. I mean there are so many different races out there, and they are all blending together to make a new… you know, beautifully diverse human being (laughing). And we just wanted to represent that. And I felt like Culture was a good name because… everybody is cultrified. Not just one person is one thing anymore. I feel like that would draw in a plethora of, you know, diversity of people, and we could market it that way.
AM: Yeah, I like that. I really like your name… I was telling one of my friends, who has a mixed baby… Her baby’s hair is natural, and I was telling her about your product saying, ‘you know, you should probably check out [Alex’s] product… I think it’ll be good for [your baby’s] hair’ because she’s blended (mixed) and you know…
Alex: Yeah, beautifully diverse huh (laughing)
AM: Yeah! Yes! Like so diverse (laughing)… So what made you want to create a hair care line? Because you are really setting the bar! I don’t know too many millennials, like people our age you know, creating their own hair care line. You normally see older women in this industry… What made you think, ‘hey i wanna start a hair care line?”
Alex: Honestly, [it’s because of] the lack of products in the marketplace right now. Multi-ethnic and ethnic brands are poorly represented. Me and my mother, we wanted to make something that was actually a good quality, good packaging, and it worked on all types of hair. You know you go to target and you try to find all these products… and your spending $100, $130. You now have 5 products on your counter shelves and now you got to mix and match them. [Which] only to get build up in your hair, you know your hair is drying up, and it’s getting even more nappier in the back. I mean anything, you name, I have tried it and none of them have given me results that I actually needed. Which was hydration throughout the day, moisturizing my hair, detangle it, keep the frizz out, and also define my curls. Why [not] have a product that is for me? Why don’t I have a product that is a shampoo, a conditioner and a leave-in cream for me? Why do I have to [buy] 30 products and spend all this money? And none of it is working anyway! So that was my motivation and we stuck to it. Now, we can give people that and honestly, you have no idea how amazing that makes me feel!
AM: That’s amazing! So, how long ago was when you first started thinking about starting a hair care line?
Alex: We had already started doing stuff for it when I started Marki classes. So the reason why I had gone to Marki’s classes was to, you know, break out of my shell a little bit. Get comfortable with speaking to people. Because that was on one of my main problems. Now If I am going to be the face of my brand, I have to be able to speak to people. And so that was just like the first initiation. I had already been working on researching the development of the formula for about 3 years. I started this when I was about 19-20 [when] I was a freshman in college. Now, I’m 24… I finally have a little following, I have a customer base, and I’m growing organically. Slowly.. But I mean it’s paying off.
AM: That’s good. You know it takes time. As long as you’re growing… you know it takes time to grow a brand. You got to start (which you already did), and you just have to keep going. That’s really all it takes to get to where you want to be… Now going towards the ingredients. How long did it take you to figure out the perfect ingredient?
Alex: That was THE second longest thing, that took forever, besides trying to find a name (laughing). But the ingredient process is severely expensive. Oh my god! It took me three years to get the perfect formula. And I would go back and forth with lab. I was the test dummy for three years. I wasn’t going to put anything on the market that was not going to do its job. Because you know I was just so disappointed in the product base that we had… So for three years, I would (once a month) go tell the chemists like, ‘hey guys, this one batch that we had, you know, I liked the conditioner, but it didn’t have enough silky feeling,’ or ‘this shampoo is still drying my hair out.’ I would tell them this, and I would have a few of my friends try it, you know [friends] with different hair textures, down to [those with] 4C to 1C type hair pattern. You know, we just all worked together and finally found a bomb dot com formula. We use such raw materials in it so I do have a long lead time for my formula to go out 2 months to make it. We use raw materials from all over the world just to make something [just as] unique as we are. I wanted to combine unique things. Like Açaí berry from the Amazon or African Moringa Seed oil from South Africa, Babassu Oil from Northern Brazil and some parts of Arizona… It’s just like the perfect blend, which also ties into Culture and the whole idea of beautifully diverse. You know blending all the cultures together.
AM: I can’t believe you said it took you three years. That’s so long.
Alex: Okay! I was about to give up. I was like, ‘oh my gosh, there are so many products coming out. I’m taking too long.’ But you know what? Good things take time. Good things take time! Because you know what, after 3000… 4000 customers, or however many people I’ve met, I have only had one person complained about my product. One. You know, I got ethnic woman buying my products. I have multi-ethnic, Spanish… I’ve got every single race buying Culture and loving it. So… I don’t know!
AM: No, that’s good! That’s really good that you took your time. That means you really put your heart into it and created a bomb product. You know it’s growing like you said it’s growing organically, and to only have one negative review out of so many customers… that’s so good!
Alex: Yeah and we offer full refunds too. The only thing that we do is we accept the products back because I will use that product. One of my demos at the cosmetology school [will use that product], or i will use it or my cousins will use it. You know, anybody (laughing)
AM: Yeah (laughing). When was your latest “aha” moment? You created your own hair care line, you’re at beauty and women expos… I know you said you were at one in Dallas… When was the last moment you were like, ‘Okay, I’m really doing this? This is really happening.’ When was that last moment for you?
Alex: Honestly, two weekends ago at the LA women’s expo was the last moment I had that, and I realized, “oh my gosh, sheesh!” So I did the LA women’s expo about two years ago and I also did it this year. So you can imagine the repeat customers I had seen, which really gave me my “aha” moment. I have met so many people. I had people coming from the LA county fair, people coming from San Diego women’s expo, from the LA women’s expo, now coming up to my booth telling me, ‘OH MY GOSH! Feel my hair!!’ Sharing with me all their natural hair stories now because of Culture. How Culture has changed their lives, their families lives.. How they are running around the malls telling people who have dry, fuzzy, frizzy hair to check me out. They are coming back and buying more product. Their live testimonials… which are helping me to get more people to buy [my] product. And for the first time (at one of my expos) I sold out of all of my product! That’s just one of the few best ”aha” moment where I was like ‘oh my gosh, okay (laughing) I’m 24, I got this! People are telling me that they love it.” That’s just all I wanted. My biggest fears before launching this product were, ‘are people going to love this as much as I do? How am I going to get so many women who have already been let down to try Culture products just one time?’ You know their lives will be changed, and that one time that they purchased [my product] brought them back to me. And that was just like the best feeling.
AM: That is so good. I know that’s an amazing feeling, especially after all your hard work.
Alex: Yes, after everything… the drama… (laughing) like it wasn’t easy, especially running a company with family. Lord! (laughing)
AM: It’s just you and your mom right? Running it?
Alex: It is uh.. Me and my mom and actually my cousin. So I do have a little bit of help. But like I said, my mom, moved out of state so you know it’s kinda hard. Because me and [my cousin] are left doing everything.
AM: Is your cousin mixed as well?
Alex: Yes, she is. She is actually Thai and White. And her son is Black and Thai. So we’re all mixed up (laughing)
AM: (laughing) literally beautifully diverse!
Alex: Yes, okaayy! (laughing)
AM: So what was your hardest hardship(s) you encountered while building your brand, and how did you overcome it?
Alex: Geez honestly, the same thing, I’m going to go with working with family is one of the hardest battles. [That] I have faced and overcame. And finally I have a system to where it works (laughing) and everything is okay. But when you work with family, no one has the sense of accountability. You know what I mean? It’s not, you know, I’m going to go to work bc if I don’t do my job my boss is going to fire me. I’m coming to work with my cousin… if I’m doing bad that day oh well. She is still going to be my family at the end of the day. Or my mom [isn’t] feeling it, and she doesn’t come to work and help me. You know, she doesn’t have the accountability to be there. So that would honestly be the hardest thing. But once you guys figure out, you know, ‘who’s best at what, who can do this better than this, who is better at this,’ you find a break down and you learn to not take things personally. And never take them home with you, just leave it at the office whatever it is. And play on people’s strengths. Because you’re going to be dealing with all kinds of people, you know, all kinds of people. You [just] can’t let your family put you down… you know, they’re your core. So not only was that my hardest battle, but it was one of my best battles.
AM: Where do you see your company in the next two years. I know a lot of people ask where do you see you/your company in five years but no, (laughing) that is so cliche… Where do you see yourself/your company within the next two years? Do you see your product on the shelves of Target, Ulta? Where do you see you guys in the next two years?
Alex: Well in the next two years, I hope… well soon we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign so that way I can actually create more products. So that way I can be in Ulta one day (laughing). I want to stay grassroots though (with my salons right now) because I really do like the fact that I am pushing [my products] to salons and to cosmetology students. So that way, they can get really educated on multi-ethnic, curly ethnic hair, and understand that you have products for that certain type of hair and don’t be afraid of that hair. But anyways (laughing) back to what I was saying… So in the next two years, I hope to launch this campaign. I hope to get as many supporters [as I can] so I can continue to promote these healthy products around, and you know, giving them to people that need them. Which is any multi-textured, ethnic hair, even Jewish hair [individual] (laughing).
AM: Yeah all kinds! Because everyone has a different texture of hair and not everyone knows how to work with the different texture of hair. Especially mixed people hair.
Alex: You are so right about that. People see me walking in a salon and they are like, ‘oh crap (jokingly) Uh-OH!’ But they shouldn’t see us as that you know (laughing). It’s so easy when you have products that actually work. There are so many people making curly hair products for curly hair people, but they don’t understand our hair is not just curly hair. It’s multi-textured hair. It’s two hair cuticles mixing into one to make one hair cuticle. You have to smooth that bad boy out, keep it hydrated all day to even be able to maintain it.
AM: Yup! Well, why do you think it is important for millennials to start paving our own way to success? Creating our own path instead of waiting for someone to give us that opportunity?
Alex: I just feel like personally, you will work harder for your dreams versus someone else’s. You go to work every day and you’re bored. But if you’re going to work for yourself every day, then you have the motivation. ‘Oh my god, I have to feed my kids, and I have to feed my family.’ So I have to work harder at this. But, this is my profession… this is your profession, what you’re good at. You know, make the best of that. Hustle, hustle, hustle! And do that! Because you never want to wait on someone else. You will live an unhappy, stressed life. But If you take charge of your life and you start doing what you need to do, then you’re going to be happy. Because you’re self-satisfied. There’s nothing more invigorating than self-satisfaction!
AM: That’s so true. Especially in our generation. I love the fact the millennials in our generation are really breaking barriers, and you know just doing our own thing. [Whereas] people before us, some of them just settle… just settle for a job knowing it’s not something they want to do but just settle. But millennials… boy! I feel like it’s because we have so many outlets and social media you can do anything…
Alex: ANYTHING! Yes, we’re motivated and we’re smart. We got all the resources, you know, to make it! Even like yourself, you moved to LA for four years on your own… like I would never move out [like that] by myself (laughing). But you had self-satisfaction, you were driven, you wanted something, you wanted it for yourself… so that goes a long way!
AM: Yup (laughing) Okay so last question! What is one piece of advice you can give to anyone trying to start their own business?
Alex: Oh man… A piece of advice.. One: keep going! No matter how depressed you are. And two: don’t take out any loans, borrow money from family, [etc]… Build your business smart. Be frugal. Use any resources that you have before you have to take out a loan. And never ever give up. Because that moment that you give up, you know the next day could be something better waiting for you. There are so many roller coaster waves that I have been riding within these last 2-3 years that you would never imagine. [I mean before] I never thought I would sell out at a women’s expo. And now, I’m there… four years later!!!
It was such an honor to interview Alex for Millennial Speaks. I believe Alex is most definitely a Millennial breaking barrier in the industry! The hair care industry at that!!! Thanks again Alex! Be sure to keep up with Culture and Alex’s journey! Follow her on all of her social media pages posted below. Also if you are in the search for a new hair product for your multi-ethnic hair…HELLO!! Try Culture! As you just read it may be the product that changes your life!
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