…Well, beauty is an idea in and of itself, right? So the first thing I would suggest is ask yourself, “Who told me what beauty was?” Was it what I saw on television and magazines growing up? You have to deconstruct that because it is way too limiting. Then I would say reflect on your childhood and think about the person who always made you feel good about yourself. Maybe it was your grandmother or mother or big cousin. You probably thought they were beautiful and they probably looked like you. For me, growing up dark skinned with short, tightly coiled hair, I didn’t see a lot of things that made me feel beautiful. But my grandmother would always make the extra effort to make me feel special, and it really gave me a foundation of confidence. Lastly, I would say just
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashanti Lation, founder and owner of VIP Luxury Hair & Hair Care. Lation’s career started in cosmetology in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, LA at the age of 8 years old. At a young age, she took the lead of creative and treating her own hair. Lation then proceeded to escalade the name already established and molded her brand. Noticing her passion to reach her goals, she’s built organic relationships with others within the industry sharing like minded goals. While making her mark in the world, she continues to pursue her dream and build her empire.
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?
AL: My name is Ashanti Lation. I’m the founder and owner of VIP Luxury Hair & Hair Care. My journey to a career in cosmetology started in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, LA when I was around 8 years old. My mother couldn’t afford to bring me to the hair salon on a regular basis, but she wasn’t really good at combing hair either. So when me and my cousin wanted to go outside, my grandmother would say “Ya’ll not going outside with your hair all over your head!”. That forced me to pick up a comb and brush and make our hair presentable enough to get out of the house.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
AL: Well, I started doing hair in high school and I was always pretty popular and somewhat successful as a hairstylist. But back then I think I looked at cosmetology as more of a hustle or something to generate income until I found my way into a more prestigious career. I never looked at it as the thing I would be known for. It wasn’t until I quit hair styling to try my hand at mortgage origination. My plan was to parlay that knowledge into a career in real estate. But then Hurricane Katrina derailed most of my plans. Me and my family moved to Houston for two years and after hopping from job to job for a while, I ended up accepting a sales position with KB Home right outside of New Orleans. But after KB Home decided to end operations in Louisiana, I was right back to not knowing what my next move was going to be. So I went back to what I knew and loved. I started working at a Smart Style salon inside of Walmart and just started rebuilding my clientele from scratch. The only difference was that this time I took more of a long-term view and focused on growing my cosmetology career as large as possible.
In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?
AL: For us, social media has made all the difference. The ability to simply share images and videos of my art and have people follow and appreciate it, is nothing short of amazing. It’s all about attention. Once you capture people’s attention and garner their trust, converting them to customers isn’t that hard.
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?
AL: I would have to say my husband/business partner has been instrumental in the success of our company. He helped me start the business in 2009, but at the time he was trying to get his own business off the ground. But after seeing the potential of VIP, he decided to become my COO and we’ve been skyrocketing ever since.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
AL: When I was 15, and just starting to get a name in my city as an up-and-coming young hairstylist, one of my clients asked me if I knew how to do a “sew-in” and instead of me admitting that I didn’t know how, I said “Of course! When do you want to come?” I hung up the phone and called one of the more popular Black salons in the area and told them I was interested in getting a sew-in and could they explain the process to me. The stylist said that they use a needle and thread to sew the extensions onto the braids. So I got a sewing needle from my grandmother’s sewing kit and went to work. It didn’t look bad, but my client went swimming the next day and hair came out in the pool.
That experience taught me that it’s better to be honest about your skill level and refer the service out until you can master the skill yourself.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
AL: My advice to anyone looking to start a career in cosmetology would be to focus on your craft and customers. The success will come. While marketing is important and the allure of launching your own product line is tempting, having a strong foundation is absolutely invaluable. Perfecting your craft and really taking care of your clients’ needs will have you consistently booked and paid well enough to where selling products will be purely optional. I was a six-figure hairstylist before I ever sold a single product.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
AL: (1) Seasonal trims –
(2) Tie your hair up –
(3) Avoid excessive –
(4) Oil & Moisturize –
(5) Avoid Over-manipulation –
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
AL: Well, beauty is an idea in and of itself, right? So the first thing I would suggest is ask yourself, “Who told me what beauty was?” Was it what I saw on television and magazines growing up? You have to deconstruct that because it is way too limiting. Then I would say reflect on your childhood and think about the person who always made you feel good about yourself. Maybe it was your grandmother or mother or big cousin. You probably thought they were beautiful and they probably looked like you. For me, growing up dark skinned with short, tightly coiled hair, I didn’t see a lot of things that made me feel beautiful. But my grandmother would always make the extra effort to make me feel special, and it really gave me a foundation of confidence. Lastly, I would say just
How can our readers follow you online?
AL: Socials: vipluxuryhaircare
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!