“From Avocation To Vocation: How I Turned My Hobby Into A Career” With Jennifer Melpignano

If I could start a movement, it would be to provide single mothers whether they’re homeless or just struggling with finances, a chance and the support to gain financial freedom. As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing […]

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If I could start a movement, it would be to provide single mothers whether they’re homeless or just struggling with finances, a chance and the support to gain financial freedom.

As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Melpignano. Jennifer, Founder and CEO of Endless Hair Extensions. Jennifer is also an avid long distance runner.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

It was when I realized my hair was thinning and I started looking into hair extensions. I remember I went out and bought a set of clip in extensions and tried matching the extension’s texture with my natural hair’s texture. I was a full time mother and didn’t have the time to spend curling the extensions to blend them in naturally with my own hair but I ended up wasting a lot of time, effort, and money in the process anyways and still wasn’t able to get a good result. I spent hours curling and straightening the extensions to match my natural curls but eventually ruined the extension.

I decided to create extensions out of actual human hair with naturally occurring textures so you can treat them just like your own natural hair and wash, dye, color, and bleach them any way you want without damaging the extension or your own hair. I knew that every woman deserved to have beautiful hair and achieve whatever hair dreams they had so I started Endless Hair Extensions!

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

Speaking from my own experience, my hair frustration was the catalyst for the business model and formed much of the principles which we now operate from. I knew in today’s world, women want to look and feel beautiful and I truly believe every woman deserves to achieve their hair dreams even if they have thin hair now or simply want thicker, fuller hair. I also knew transparency and honesty for our entire company’s approach is very important. Offering hair care advice on our blog is also something we wanted to share as a way of giving back long after you’ve purchased one of our products from us.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

I would say that you must believe in yourself and the ideas you have and pursue them relentlessly without hesitation. Perseverance is also key as starting a business from a hobby isn’t always the easiest transition and there are many road bumps littering the road. As a Christian, I would also pray asking God for wisdom and guidance.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

I guess I haven’t yet! (laughs) but seriously I honestly love how the right hair can absolutely transform a girl’s look and confidence instantly. I guess you could say I’m a hair enthusiast! It’s a real ego boost to feel and look good. I think keeping every day new and fresh really keeps the boredom out. Staying relevant on new hair styles and trends also makes sure we’re one step ahead and is really fun researching and experimenting.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

Independence is a huge perk and allows me to spend time with my family throughout the day which is totally awesome. The downsides probably was when we were putting a lot of work into the business without any foreseeable return. We would each take turns giving pep talks and would pull all-nighters. It was pretty crazy. Giving ourselves a vacation every once and a while now and not feeling guilty has been a process because we all joke we’re workaholics (laughs).

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?

We had a few moments. I remember one time in the beginning we had some trouble finding our hair supplier that met our strict quality requirements. We eventually overcame this obstacle and that’s what we learned: you have to think of each step of the way on your journey as an obstacle to overcome and never give up on.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The most interesting thing that I have discovered is that there is a whole science to the process of making a great product. Why do women in India donate their hair to temples? Why do women in these cultures unlike here in the west not process their hair like us western women? All fascinating questions that we started asking and learning about.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I can’t recall a specific time but we certainly learned, cried and laughed a lot in the beginning! The biggest lesson I learned from all of this is that you have to stay positive and focused no matter what the circumstance or obstacles that your facing.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

My oldest sons that I work along side! They inspire me to be a great role model for work ethics, integrity and the belief that hard, honest work really does pay off.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Through hair transformation! I know that women wearing Endless Hair Extensions look and feel beautiful with their longer, thicker hair whether it’s while they wait for their own hair to grow out or for an extra “oomph” and hair blowout. My five year goal includes building homeless shelters for women and children starting here in Florida.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Communication is key to running a family business. When we first started, we quickly discovered writing down team goals and ideas helped us work better together and now we operate effortlessly.
  2. Choose your platform based upon your needs. For us, WordPress has the most flexibility for our business model.
  3. Building a business will be harder and longer than you think. We were transferring hosts a couple months back and it was an absolute nightmare because of some technical issues but we kept pushing.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could start a movement, it would be to provide single mothers whether they’re homeless or just struggling with finances, a chance and the support to gain financial freedom.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It was so risky and so scary, and yet at the same time, so beautiful. Maybe the truth was, it shouldn’t be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder -if not impossible- to lose.” 
― Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride

It was risky starting a business as a woman and this quote has inspired me to push on and believe in myself when I’ve had doubt.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

My next entrepreneur adventure is in real estate investment and building a safe community for the homeless so honestly one of my biggest dreams would be to sit down to a private breakfast with Grant Cardone.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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