…The number one success factor for any beauty business is customer knowledge. That knowledge should be as detailed as you can get it. As much as possible, you need to have a direct relationship with your customers to better understand their needs. All of our products are developed from conversations we’ve had with our customers. Whether it be a particular style, length, or color, without question, every successful product we’ve launched has been informed by customer opinion. But for me, the customer focus goes deeper than this. Their excitement about product is my excitement about product because I’m also the customer; I’m the original customer of my brand. It motivates me to know that I’m developing products specifically for my customers. It’s an absolutely authentic relationship that builds high levels of trust and that is key to success in beauty and of course to profitability
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lulu Pierre.
Lulu Pierre, founder, and CEO of Boho Locs recognized the need for a protective hairstyle that was as stylish as it was comfortable. With her expert knowledge of professional styling techniques and hair design, Lulu began creating her own handmade crochet locs that were lightweight, authentic, and natural-looking. She created Boho Locs for women and men around the world to encourage them to look and feel their best no matter what stage they may find themselves in their protective styling journey.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I founded Boho Locs in 2016 after a Brazillian blow dry ruined my natural hair. After just one bad treatment, my glorious afro was left limp and lackluster. I was heartbroken. Whilst my hair recovered, I wanted to find a protective style with a natural aesthetic — something that made me feel confident and like the best version of myself. Locs had always been in my family, so it seemed like the most authentic solution for me. But I couldn’t find anything I loved on the market. They were too shiny, too heavy, too springy, too straight, or too uniform. I couldn’t find a single style that ticked all of my boxes.
Never wanting to settle for anything but the best, I took matters into my own hands and started making crochet locs by myself — at home in my living room. I took the highest quality synthetic hair and started designing locs by hand, creating my own twists, curls, and color blends so that no two locs were the same. I posted a pic online and immediately started getting requests for orders. I made more, and we sold out within hours. Every time I upped my game, the demand increased and we kept selling out. I knew I was onto something major, and 5 years on we now have our own team, manufacturers, and over 80 Boho Locs styles.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I’ve always been passionate about hair. As a Black woman, a businesswoman, and a mother to a beautiful little girl, I felt it was my calling to help other Black women protect and nurture their natural hair, whilst feeling like their best selves too.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I am based in London and have been here my whole life. When I launched Boho Locs, I assumed that my market would be local. To my surprise, the product gained rapid traction in the United States. My initial customers were all from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Texas. The growth was all organic and word-of-mouth. I did not have to invest in any paid media — just basic email marketing. To find a receptive U.S. audience was just a fantastic happenstance.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
Truthfully, no. There isn’t one singular “tipping point” moment of my career. When I launched my e-commerce site at the end of 2017 and had exponential sales growth in terms of people being able to access our brand online, that was a big turning point for the overall success of Boho Locs. I was fortunate in that we had experienced success right from day one I had developed the crochet locs product myself and felt amazing wearing it. I genuinely love my product and to me, success is making something that I thought was excellent and gave me a feeling of confidence. That’s the ticket — all women deserve to feel this great. So, my key takeaway is that if you really believe in your product, enjoy it, love it, and it benefits you… it will benefit others just as much. Always develop your ideas with passion and authenticity.
Prior to launching Boho Locs, I had written a book that went on to become an Amazon bestseller in the UK and USA, Natural Haircare for Girls. I had no idea how to launch this book so I invested my time heavily into marketing courses. I spent hours self-learning everything I could about digital marketing. I joined Facebook marketing groups, read books, and scoured forums for advice and insights. Anything I could access, I explored it. The knowledge I gained was what fueled my very early, immediate success with Boho Locs. I’d done my prior research and I knew how to get my product out to those women that I wanted to feel as great as me.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than half a trillion-dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
As Black women, hair is important — it’s cultural, historical, and political, but Boho Locs is so much more than that. This is a sisterhood. This is a business created for us, by us. We’re helping our customers look and feel their best by providing them with the finest locs so they can express themselves freely through a variety of protective hairstyles.
Shop our locs, feel bomb and upload your most banging selfies — love yourself fiercely. But remember, it’s not all about the hair. We are here to platform your stories, share the wisdom, celebrate your wins, and create a beauty community that empowers everyone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I will always be grateful to my Dad who remains my biggest inspiration. My Dad ran his own business so I grew up within the context of seeing a successful entrepreneurial business and knowing it was possible to achieve success for oneself. Throughout my childhood, he bought me loads of books about entrepreneurship and biographies of successful entrepreneurs such as Madam C.J. Walker, and I took much inspiration from these examples. One book he shared with me about the first self-made black millionaires in the US post-slavery particularly stood out to me, and helped firm up my intention to become an entrepreneur myself.
Before I launched Boho Locs, I was struggling financially. Yes, I had the Amazon best-selling book, but it wasn’t providing an income I could live on and support my young daughter with. I didn’t have a job, I was receiving benefits from the State, and living in supported housing. During the winter, the heating stopped working in my car, but I really didn’t have the money to get it fixed so I asked my dad for help. To my massive surprise, he said “no,” and told me this. “Lou, you have a brain inside that head so it’s time to get out and use it. You can think of a way out of this, so do it.”
It wasn’t easy. I remember heating up my daughter’s car seat with a hot water bottle before we went out and wrapping her in blankets and blankets whenever we left the house. But looking back it was that experience of tough love that really spurred me on to success. I really got the determination to achieve from that situation.
When I developed my first locs and made my first sale, it was my Dad who used to sit for hours to help me make the products! We used to make them in my parent’s living room. Hair everywhere, until Dad said to me “Lou, you’re on to something here. Time to go find yourself a manufacturer…”
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
1. Inclusivity — the industry has changed so much for the better in recent years opening up and accommodating the beauty needs of diverse audiences across race, age, and gender. This is a fantastic development enabling individuals more opportunity for creative freedom, self-expression, and acceptance
ii. The increase in black-owned beauty brands is something I’m really happy about. I passionately believe that black people should be the owners of businesses that create beauty products for black people. We know our needs more intimately than anyone, but there are skills and knowledge gaps within our community. It is one of my personal goals to share my experience, skills, and business insights with others to support business creation within the community. It is my wish that more black people benefit from the benefits of business ownership.
iii. The convergence of beauty and tech within the consumer experience is really exciting to me. As a business, we’re looking at advances in VR tech. The idea that you could soon try on hairstyles through your laptop screen at home is fantastic and COVID-friendly!
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
i. The lack of black female brand owners on the global stage: More and more I’m seeing independent beauty brands being launched by black women, which is fantastic, but we have a long way to go when it comes to achieving representation for ourselves on the global stage. Women are highly creative, intuitive, and innovative when it comes to hair and beauty, so I would love to see Black, female-owned brands within the world’s 20 top-performing brands as I believe we have a voice in pushing the beauty agenda.
ii. Less of a concern, more of a challenge, is the impact COVID-19 has had across all players in the beauty industry. As with so many aspects of life during lockdown, everyone has had time to reconsider what’s necessary in terms of where they are choosing to spend their money. But there is an upside. Now, more than ever, simplicity and quality are huge purchase drivers. Our customers return to Boho Locs for the products they trust for being high quality, high style, low maintenance. The pandemic has forced us to re-strategize within the context of the current consumer experience. For example, we developed existing products in new lengths or colors, because we know that style is a winner, rather than trying to market new looks, which is harder when no one is going out and everyone’s working at home. The point is that when you face business challenges you need to focus and play into your strengths.
iii. Authenticity is always a concern for me in the industry, particularly in my corner of the industry. My products are aimed specifically at the black community and it is my highest priority that my brand feels authentic to our customers.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
- YOU DO NOT NEED MONEY TO START A BUSINESS. THE VALUE YOU HOLD IS IN YOUR MIND. When I was first starting Boho Locs, I had no money, but I had a product concept, passion, and a strong desire to get out of the situation I was in. I invested time in building leads, then pre-sold my product and used the revenues to fund the product development, and I did that again, and again. In about two years, I had made over 1M dollars in revenue.
- LAUNCH, LEARN, ITERATE. There is no perfect time to get started with a new business. So don’t wait. You may not have everything lined up perfectly the way you want it to be, but don’t use this as a reason to delay. You won’t know everything from day one. For me, initially, I focused on customer metrics and product profitability. From just a few metrics, I was able to identify the drivers of success and opportunity and to repeat and improve on the actions that generated ‘wins’.
- PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. If you want success for your brand you need to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m a naturally outgoing person, I love meeting new people, and engaging in conversation in real life. But I am the exact opposite on social media. On social media, I am literally nowhere. Even though I realized how important social media would be for building the brand, the thought of putting my image out there was daunting for me to say the least. But I had to get the product out there, and with no money I had no choice but to do the modeling myself. It was all so new for me, and so uncomfortable, but I found that people responded positively and that spurred me on.
- FOCUS ON CUSTOMERS AHEAD OF PROFITS. The number one success factor for any beauty business is customer knowledge. That knowledge should be as detailed as you can get it. As much as possible, you need to have a direct relationship with your customers to better understand their needs. All of our products are developed from conversations we’ve had with our customers. Whether it be a particular style, length, or color, without question, every successful product we’ve launched has been informed by customer opinion. But for me, the customer focus goes deeper than this. Their excitement about product is my excitement about product because I’m also the customer; I’m the original customer of my brand. It motivates me to know that I’m developing products specifically for my customers. It’s an absolutely authentic relationship that builds high levels of trust and that is key to success in beauty and of course to profitability.
- BUILD WITH THE END GOAL IN MIND. When you start out you need to test and learn, but soon enough you establish a pattern or a formula for your business. You find out what works, you build on your success levers, and then, you can really think about the future and envision what you want to achieve for your business. I want to create a brand where women can express themselves creatively, with different looks, and at different moments across their lives. I want to provide hair for their wedding, and their first day in their new job, as well as for daily life. This vision shapes every strategic decision we take.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
For me this is less of a question of ‘if’ but a question of ‘when’. I am determined at some stage to develop a platform for sharing my business knowledge and insights with other female entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journeys. I’d love to run an incubator program that teaches everything you need to set up for success — mindset, practical training, addressing specific questions, and how to deal with setbacks. I know first-hand how fundamentally life-changing it is to see your business take off. The confidence and self-belief that comes from this has a deep impact on the person experiencing it, but also on future generations (such as for me and my daughter). I want to help other women on this journey.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Mine is taken from the Book of Proverbs — Proverbs 6:6–11
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest —
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
This speaks to me no end! The concept of being wise, and being diligent, and is the attitude that creates self-sufficiency
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.