You can feel beautiful with a warm smile, by making someone else feel beautiful or with a real deep belly laugh. Remember the last time you complimented someone, or helped them out with something, and they returned a grateful, hearty smile to you and said thank you. I bet it made you feel like a kind and good person. Well guess what — these are the kind of qualities that truly make a person beautiful. Qualities like generosity, kindness, love and patience.
As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katarzyna Rubin.
Katarzyna Rubin is the co-founder of the Swiss-based hair extension brand, Rubin Extensions. She’s worked as a professional in the beauty and hair industry for over two decades, including companies like L’Oreal and Schwarzkopf. Alongside her husband, she’s passionate about offering the highest standard of hair extensions to women all around the world.
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’ve had a love and passion for hair since as early as I can remember. So it was only natural I’ve spent most of my adult life working in the beauty and hair industry, including working for global brands like L’Oreal and Schwarzkopf. In 2010, I wanted a career change but after the GFC, it was very challenging to find a suitable job. During this time, I noticed the trend for hair extensions becoming more and more popular. It was only a matter of time before hair extensions would become as fully accepted like any other accessory (e.g. handbags).
I’ve personally been wearing hair extensions since my early teenage years. Since I naturally have very thin hair, I’ve always depended on hair extensions to help me create the kind of amazing hair looks I so loved to style. It was impossible to find good quality hair regardless of the price I paid. In an effort to understand why this was the case, I took initiative and started looking for suppliers overseas so I could order my own samples to compare the different qualities for myself.
Low and behold, I started learning more and more about the industry and what it actually takes to find and create high quality hair extensions. I was essentially doing the pre-homework for my soon-to-be business, Rubin Extensions, in a desperate attempt to make a product I actually wanted to buy. In the process, I discovered there were hundreds, if not thousands, of women out there just like me who were having the same struggles!
In reflection, it really was a divine timing of life events lining up for me to take this seriously as a potential business venture.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting things has actually been learning about the many techniques used to process the different hair qualities. We’ve traveled widely to gain insight into the hair trading industry which I previously knew nothing about. It’s actually a very illuminating experience when you realize hair wigs and hair extensions have been a part of human culture and history for many millenia. You can’t credit Hollywood or social media for creating the idea of hair extensions!
For example, traditionally when Jewish women get married, they do not show their own hair to other people from that day forth. Therefore, they wear wigs or head coverings.
Hair is traded as a commodity and prices of human hair have been growing by roughly 10% year on year as it’s a limited natural resource and with rising demand around the world, it’s becoming harder to come by. Roughly 100 grams of top quality hair has higher value than 100 grams of silver!
Unfortunately, this has spurred a lot of rip-offs in the market where cheap, unkempt hair is mixed with animal and synthetic hair to make it more affordable. Sadly for the consumer buying this, it means the extensions won’t last long, they tangle easily and can easily be damaged.
There is nothing on earth with the same characteristics as human hair. Although this is a multi-billion dollar market, it is not possible to copy human nature’s perfection of a single strand of human hair. I think there’s something really beautiful and poetic about that!
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?
At the beginning, we only had a Swiss domain. Very soon though, German customers started ordering from our website as they heard about the high quality of our hair extensions. Doing B2C business from non-EU to EU countries is very tricky due to customs issues. So we took a risky step and opened a branch in Germany to supply the EU markets. This helped us keep a step ahead of our competition and differentiate us in the local markets. We gathered a lot of insights that have been very useful for the further development of our company in other regions.
As we’ve evolved as an online store, one thing we’ve had to start focusing on more significantly and catering our strategies to these local markets. In 2011, selling online was a lot easier in many ways than it is today! Nowadays, it’s a complex web of search alogrithms and paid advertising. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse as it’s all too easy to become out-dated and irrelevant in the ever-chaning digital world.
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?
We started as a garage spin-off with no money — just an IKEA bookshelf where we spent an initial amount of 100 dollars for flyers. We had a personal contact with a local gym and they allowed us to leave some flyers there. This was actually how we landed our first customer after only 24h! Living in Zurich, we would then go on to visit famous fashion stores (e.g. H&M) that attracted a lot of young ladies and personally distributed flyers to the shoppers. In the evenings we started seeing orders coming in. It was an exciting time!
My advice would be, do not listen to marketing companies that say you need a big budget to get started and in order to be successful. From the moment you make that first step to start, you’ve already succeeded in many ways as there were thousands who came before you who never even made a start on their dreams.
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?
In early 2012, a deal-platform called deindeal.ch (similar to Groupon) offered us a deal on their website. We sold 500 products in 5 days. This helped us to become more prominent in Switzerland. Unfortunately, we had an error in our profit calculation — meaning there was a negative loss by the end of the whole promotion. That was a lesson in number-crunching! But nevertheless, it helped our brand to gain credibility and awareness and we take it as a positive step in our business growth!
We also work with a professional digital marketing agency that from the beginning has done clean work and have helped uncomplicate some very complex issues we’ve encountered operating 8 online stores! Their support has been crucial in recent years. Sometimes you have to bring in the experts to help. As an entreprenuer, there comes a time in your journey where you realize you can’t always do everything and be everything.
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?
The one above with the deal website (DeinDeal) 😉
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?
- Believe in your ideas and products. No one else will unless you do first.
- On the heels of this, love your product. I’ve never understood how people can genuinely sell and promote something they don’t love?
- Listen to your first gut feeling — it’s usually right.
- Be aware that you swim in water full of sharks. Many will promise you success (e.g. Marketing/Sales agencies) or money (e.g. investors) but few will deliver. It’s the dark side to business that many do not talk about. This is where point 3 is important! It’s hard to find good people to work with and whom you can trust. When you do, you tend to hold onto them.
- Don’t compromise on your values. We have always focused on high quality hair from the beginning and this has never changed since. It’s something we will not compromise on for a quick sale.
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.
- Firstly, consider what you’re using on your hair that could be causing more harm than good. For example, if you’re prone to dry hair, there are some hair care product ingredients you should pay particular attention to and steer clear from (remember, some companies will spend more money in marketing their product to you than in the actual making of the product itself). One of these is sulphates (commonly found in shampoo and conditioners as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) which is used to remove dirt from your hair, but in the process, also strips your hair of its natural oils and can cause it to become even more dry and frizzy.
- Heat styling can be a godsend for many women with untamable hair but on the flipside, excessive blow drying and straightening can cause further dryness and damage. Always use a heat protectant!
- Eat a healthy, wholesome, and nutrient-dense diet. The health of your hair really does start from the inside out. You may wish to get advice from a health practitioner to understand your nutrient levels first before supplementing. Sometimes a specially formulated hair nutrient supplement can really help give your hair the boost it needs. On this note of health, work on reducing your stress! High levels of cortisol can wreak havoc on your hormones which can cause health conditions which impact the health of your hair. It’s no wonder people say that stress causes your hair to fall out. It’s literally true!
- Use a leave-in conditioner hair mask on the odd occasion you feel your hair really needs some TLC. It can quickly provide extra moisture and hydration, giving you that silky smooth sheen. For example, if you’ve had a big event (like a wedding), and your hair has gone through some excessive styling measures (like heating, pinning and hair spray), it might be the perfect time to show it some love afterwards!
- The honest truth is that some of us may never naturally be able to create the volume and length we desire even if we’re doing everything “right” (myself included!). So there’s no shame in ‘cheating’ a little to get the desired result. Thanks to improvements in hair extension application technology and quality, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever to bypass the salon and attach them yourself from home using types of hair extensions like clip-in extensions or halo extensions. This trend of hair extensions is no longer reserved for the celebrity scene, making fabulous hair easy and accessible to virtually everyone. You can instantly add more volume and length where it would be impossible otherwise to achieve this look naturally.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
A lot of how to feel beautiful tips talk about the external appearance of a person. And while there’s certainly a place for this, as this can also be fun, I really want to share some ideas about what truly makes someone feel beautiful.
- Beauty is a state of mind. We have so much power in our mind to control our reality and it’s unfortunate all too often, we fall victim to negative thoughts about ourselves, and our bodies. Take for example a person who feeds their mind with only negative thoughts about your beauty every single day. These will manifest into negative feelings about yourself, and as emotional beings, we often let these dictate our behaviors. They go on throughout the day feeling bad about themself, so how can you expect to do nice, caring things for yourself from this place? However, on the flipside, imagine yourself thinking positive thoughts about your beauty and about yourself. How can these not manifest into more positive feelings around your body and looks which lead you to more positive actions.
- Self care is not selfish — it’s a necessity. And making it a part of your everyday routine is a way you can help yourself feel beautiful. It doesn’t have to be a grand and expensive trip to the day spa once in a blue moon. When you care for yourself in the most little ways throughout the day, taking a few minutes to get yourself ready to help you feel confident, eating well, staying hydrated, moving your body, and speaking positively to yourself — these are all forms of very basic self care and yet so many of us neglect them. We spend more time making our homes or cars looking beautiful than we do helping ourselves feeling beautiful.
- You can feel beautiful with a warm smile, by making someone else feel beautiful or with a real deep belly laugh. Remember the last time you complimented someone, or helped them out with something, and they returned a grateful, hearty smile to you and said thank you. I bet it made you feel like a kind and good person. Well guess what — these are the kind of qualities that truly make a person beautiful. Qualities like generosity, kindness, love and patience.
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of a wealthy country. Sharing ideas/challenges within those groups can help improve the success and prosperity of society at large.
E.g. having more shared offices in remote/regional locations with more knowledge sharing. Having an exchange group of female entrepreneurs sharing experience and inspiring others and nurturing young talent. Making business aware that markets do not stop at national borders.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A product should be like a boomerang — it should bring back your customer.
Our customers shop with us because they need hair extensions. They come back to us because of the quality and experience.
To further expand on this — a successful business is like that restaurant located in the most out-of-the-way location but that everyone knows about for its outstanding food. Everybody goes there because they know about the high quality food even if it’s not the most convenient to get to. They want the experience of dining there and experiences sometimes trump convenience and cost.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Jean Claude Bivier
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!