Samantha Renée always knew she wouldn’t take the safe route. She left a lucrative corporate sales career to start Weave Got It, an online hair extension business, with her partner in 2016. When we spoke to her, Samantha was expecting a baby, about to add parenthood to her growing list of roles. Because not only is she at the helm of a successful business in a risky industry—she has a day job too.
This is Samantha’s story, in her words, as told to reporter Dayna Winter:
Entrepreneurship is something that has always been in my family. My mom has very much been the spearhead of all that—she’s passionate about so many things. My parents would buy houses and flip them, so I’ve moved close to 40 times. They always talked about having multiple streams of income and not relying on a j-o-b and how unhappy you could be in the workforce. So, it’s never been a fear of mine to try things.
My partner and I wanted to start a business but really didn’t know what to start. He was on Instagram one day and saw some guy say, “I don’t deal drugs. I deal bundles.” This guy was doing well selling bundles of hair extensions. My partner was like, “Is there a lot of money in hair extensions or something?” I said, “No, we’re not doing that,” because I never really liked hair extensions.
I’ve always done hair. I’m the type of person to pick things up and just learn how to do them. I would do hair extensions for other people, but my experience had been with really crappy versions. They were shedding all over the place and would tangle. But I eventually said, “If we can source our own product where I’m in love with it, then let’s do this.” We started to test different things and to figure out why some hair would shed or tangle and some not. After doing a lot of research, we ended up with a product that I really loved.
We sell bundles, which means they’re from one donor and the hairs lay in the same direction so they don’t tangle, whereas pack hair is just a bunch of random mixed-up hair. It could be from 100 different people. The shaft of the hairs could be completely different, and when they rub against one another, it causes it to tangle and become matted really easily. Ours is an expensive product, but at the end of the day, you’re making an investment that’s going to last you a long time. It was just so nice to hear how great people felt in our hair extensions. That’s what got me more and more passionate about the business.
Around the time we started, I also was hired at Shopify as a guru. I started helping other people with their businesses while I was building mine. I was learning from these other business owners as I was talking to them. It was like a collective space of learning where I would be able to teach people and they would teach me.
We started to grow by just focusing on SEO [search engine optimization] and the education piece. People would come to the website to learn about hair extensions in general, like what’s the difference between the grades, and why should they choose bundles over pack hair? Visitors became customers because people felt like they could trust us based on the education.
There have definitely been a lot of rough things that have happened, things I didn’t anticipate. Like fraud. The hair-extension industry has a high amount of fraud on the internet. We would get orders and be all excited, and all of a sudden you get a chargeback [in which the business is on the hook for a fraudulent transaction] for $3,000. I’m doing this from my home. I’m not a big, huge company, and that’s a lot of money. We had to put safeguards in place and check ID and call people.
We also had to learn to not try to do everything. I eventually realized that we just need to focus on what we’re good at rather than trying to satisfy every person who reached out. We were just spreading ourselves way too thin. I want this to be a vessel for me that I still enjoy putting my time into rather than feeling like it’s sucking everything out of me just trying to maintain it.
Samantha learned to stick to her strengths while trying to balance work, a side-hustle, and impending motherhood.
I’m all about efficiency—trimming the fat and realizing what’s necessary and what’s not. It was just me and my partner at first. Now we have someone we hired who does customer service for us remotely. Making sure that my customers feel like they’re taken care of is important. Our emails look very professional—they would have no idea that I’m sitting here in my bed doing all of this.
In terms of prioritizing what’s important in life, I definitely do feel like I need to back away from the business a little bit. Maybe when I’m on maternity leave, I’ll do that. But I also look at mat leave as my opportunity to really kick the business into gear.
Photos courtesy of Shopify Academy