Christina Williams has spent years in the beauty industry styling and creating perfect hair for clients.
She knows every product on the market to strengthen, revitalize and promote hair growth. But when she opened Posh Restoration Facilities in 2015, the cosmetologist knew she wanted to offer something different to clients.
Williams became a certified hair loss practitioner through the U.S. Trichology Institute. Then she began creating all-natural products tailored to her clients’ needs for hair loss and skin care.
She quickly gained a following from clients eager to hear her expertise and try her natural serums and masks. Williams heard from so many people quietly suffering from hair loss that she knew her Westport shop could be so much more.
That’s why she turned to ScaleUP! Kansas City to help scale and plot her next move.
ScaleUp! is a free program offered by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The program includes classes, peer mentoring, professional guidance and more. It’s open to small businesses like Posh Restoration Facilities that operate in a market capable of supporting more than $1 million in annual sales and who want to rapidly grow their business.
Scaling back to focus
The classes had an immediate impact on her business.
ScaleUP! advisers urged Williams to think about what sets her company apart from competitors. What is she the best at?
It was easy to identify. Williams’ No. 1 product has always been a growth serum. She already was selling it to select professionals, but ScaleUP! advisers pushed Williams to look for more ways to get the product to customers.
The entrepreneur is working to place it health stores, including grocers and medical-related shops. Williams often has cancer patients seek her shop out after hair loss, so now she’s thinking about ways to proactively find them.
Williams also listened when ScaleUP! advisers told her that in order to grow, she had to give up the plethora of traditional salon services she offered in order to focus on her natural hair and skin products and consultations. It was one of the most uncomfortable moves Williams has made in her career.
She spent years filling her cosmetology chair with traditional hair clients. But ScaleUP! advisers showed her — using financial projections — why it was the right move and didn’t need to be scary.
“It’s really hard to be purposeful when you’re doing 20 different things,” she says. “That was my biggest aha moment.”
After ScaleUP!, Williams has focused almost entirely on consultation for hair and skin products at her Westport shop. She helps clients determine what’s causing their hair loss or problems. Then she creates a guided path forward.
The consultation, ScaleUP! advisers reminded her, sets her apart. Clients already can order products online or at the store. In fact, many prefer to do that since many people don’t like to talk about hair loss. But Williams can use her experience to sit down and offer more answers to clients. ScaleUP! advisers convinced Williams that by focusing more on consultations, she can reach more customers.
Williams said it’s already reaping benefits. She’s able to see more clients and help them determine lifestyle changes, select natural products and understand what environmental problems could be affecting hair and skin growth. It also takes away the stigma of hair loss, she says.
“Hair loss is one of those things that we cover up, we conceal,” she says. “I do feel like we’re in a time now where people are desperate for results. Really, there aren’t a lot of places you can go that can help you.”
One of the biggest changes at Posh Restoration happened this year when Williams unveiled her restoration bar, featuring 100 different natural ingredients to help clients with skin and hair needs.
Clients can come in for a consultation and leave with at-home hair and skin masks. The move is a direct response to ScaleUP! advisers who pushed her to think about the clients who don’t have time to sit in her salon while she applies a treatment for them.
It’s another move she took after ScaleUP! showed her how to focus on finances in a new light.
“I struggled with the idea of how do I project what I’m going to make. I either have it or I don’t,” she says.
ScaleUP! experts helped her to project how much she has historically made. Then she can maneuver to do new, purposeful ideas without fear of financial ruin. The exercise showed her the importance of tracking finances regularly.
Longtime customers have responded well to Williams’ natural products and her guided help to get their hair, scalp and skin looking stronger and healthier.
“It’s a little more expensive, but in the long run it’s cheaper because you’re not buying products that don’t work,” said Carol Fleming, a customer.
Fleming doesn’t have hair loss but she is concerned about the damage done to her hair after working out five days a week. She goes to Posh for a steam treatment and mask that helps moisturize her hair.
“My hair is a lot healthier. My scalp is a lot healthier,” she says “It’s growing.”
Williams has big dreams of franchising and adding locations. ScaleUP! coaches quickly got behind that energy. But they also taught her a valuable lesson: Don’t scale until the foundation is set. Her ScaleUP! coach actually urged Williams to slow down a bit.
The coach advised caution when Williams opened a pop-up location on the Plaza in addition to her other facility.
Williams wanted the bigger space to promote her product. She envisioned space for education and exercise classes that promote healthy skin or hair.
“Slow down, you don’t need to scale yet,” her coach advised. “Until you bust out of those seams, you stay right where you are and use the heck out of the space.”
In hindsight, Williams admits that the pop-up store did OK but she wasn’t ready to scale yet — her coach was right.
It was a tough pill to swallow at first, but Williams agreed and shifted her focus back to her original facility.
“A lot of times we do put gas on things that we need to put brakes on,” she says.
Overall, Williams would recommend the ScaleUP! experience to any small business owner ready to think bigger. And, she adds, it was free.
“To get 16 weeks of classes that’s going to help you take your business from just existing to driving,” she says, “you can’t put a number on that.”