With African-American women spending a reported half a trillion on hair care and weaves, hair care would seem a wise business to enter. But like all other industries, you have to make your products stand out.
That’s what Diane Da Costa has done.
Healthy haircare is Da Costa’s passion. Through her SimpleeBEAUTIFUL, a product retailer, full-service salon in White Plains, NY, and web-boutique, she promotes properly caring for textured hair and alternatives to sodium hydroxide relaxers.
The author of the book, Textured Tresses, Da Costa is steadily building a unique brand. “I launched SimpleeBEAUTIFUL online in 2007 and the boutique salon in 2011 after closing Dyaspora Salon Spa, the first Aveda Concept Salon for multi-textured hair in 2001,” explains DaCosta. “The Boutique was started partly with my own resources and a private investor in 2011.”
One of the core businesses of SimpleeBEAUTIFUL, which also features a team of beauty consultants and personal beauty shoppers, is bridal services. “The bridal services are all a part of SimpleeBEAUTIFUL Boutique Salon and includes services that cater to the bride and the bridal party. Our bridal service offering includes couture hair and makeup services, trial styling, day of services, and bridal party styling,” explains Da Costa. “Brides can also choose the SimpleeBEAUTIFUL three-month healthy hair program developed to help brides pamper their tresses leading up to their big day.”
Da Costa says her goal is to provide an array of hair care for a broad market. “SimpleeBEAUTIFUL specializes in multicultural women with all hair types and textures…Women who are looking for natural hairstyles, i.e. locks, braids, short-cropped natural cuts, glamorous waves, cascading curls, natural spiral curls choose SimpleeBEAUTIFUL which is known for creating signature bridal styles,” she explains. Da Costa’s timing seems perfect as more women—white and Black are turning to more natural styles and hair care. In fact, some in hair care say Black women are going through a natural hair revolution.
While Da Costa is hitting a trending niche, she still has had challenges. “During our first year in the Westchester location, the recession was still in recovery and it was a very difficult time. Clients were not spending as much and the market really became a do-it-yourself market. I overcame those obstacles, by drawing on my prior experience of owning a business in Manhattan,” she says. What Da Costa did was re-evaluate her pricing. “Creating a price structure that included incentives and specials was the key to my success. I had to make sure that the SimpleeBEAUTIFUL boutique price points were in line with the Westchester market which meant moving away from the initial pricing that was created for the NYC salon services,” she explains.
Da Costa also revamped her menu by offering new services. “Additionally, we started the Curly TexturedBAR which offers textured styles with every style under $100 on the menu. You may have noticed BLOWDry bars popping up all over California and NY. I started the Curly TexturedBAR to provide services for women of color with curly hair,” she says. “They can get blow/outs and ceramic styles for $35 to $45 and textured sets and styles, such as the double strand twist and flat-twist waves for $75 to $95. The addition of the Curly TexturedBAR saw an increase to styling, conditioning and smoothing treatments without chemicals or cutting for express services.”
Da Costs has also adjusted to a new clientele. “I’ve learned how to deal with this new millennial generation,” she says. “They are very impatient, very challenging, uncompromising and they don’t stay focused for more than eight months in a career or area that they are not vested in. They are an interesting breed.”
As far as her company’s offerings, she has also created special deals. “These services, along with retail product sales featuring Carol’s Daughter; Jane’s Care Solution; Paul Mitchell; CHI; Matrix Biolage and Phyto & Phyto Specific and other hair care brands offered with special incentives and discounted 15 to 20 percent, really helped the business through the past two years. Now that the economy is moving up slightly, business is increasing every day. Since we started in the recession, there’s only one place to go…and that’s up!,” she says.
With things on the upswing, Da Costa is looking at expansion. “This year, I plan to expand to a new location; that will include a full retail store carrying from 10 to 12 hair care, skin care and makeup brands and increasingly promote the CurlyTexturedBAR for curly girls who want express services for textured styles & BlowOuts from $40 to $95,” she says. And looking further ahead, she is working on a new book for “curly girls.”
For Da Costa, working in her passion and sticking with the business during the tough times has all been worth it. “I’ve learned many lessons; however, as a small business owner you must have faith in God and in His promise to you for the business and your dreams. You must never give up and you must keep in the fight; persist and always know when to adjust, re-evaluate and make tough decisions to make changes that will keep the business going,” she says.