“O-h! That’s it! That’s my calling. That’s what I should be doing. I should be in the beauty industry …”
It was at that moment that Ebony Dickerson knew she had the entrepreneurial spirit of her parents and was going to make some major changes in her life and achieve her dream.
Ebony was her parent’s youngest child growing up in North Minneapolis. Both parents were entrepreneurs; her mother is on her 11th year running a daycare, and her father owns a painting business that has been in operation for more than 25 years. For more than a decade, her mother was the backbone of her father’s painting business, taking on a multitude of administrative tasks focused around contracting, bookkeeping and payroll for the business. Ebony remembers going to the office with her mother and seeing how hard her parents worked to run the business.
Fast forward to 2015 and Ebony found herself with a good job in corporate America—but the passion was not there. As she neared the completion of her Business Degree, Ebony began to think about her career path in a different light. She has always had a passion and interest for hair—specifically, extensions – and, as she began to think more about it, she realized pursuing a career in hair would fuel her passion and drive. She always had the intuitive desire to tap into her entrepreneurial instincts; it was then that she began seriously thinking of how she would position herself in the beauty industry.
With this goal in mind, Ebony began researching the hair extension industry. The lack of regulation surrounding hair extensions, along with false advertising of many products, presented Ebony with an opportunity to educate consumers on the hair they are purchasing. Digging deeper, Ebony came across the Beauty Supply Institute (BSI), where she was took courses, earning certification in various aspects of the beauty industry, and supply store ownership.
At this point, Ebony knew she wanted more than just her own hairline; she also wanted to run her own beauty supply store. Armed with her business degree and certifications from BSI, she created a plan for Le Chic Beauty Boutique. This online boutique would sell quality, organic hair extensions in larger quantities than her competitors.
With a product model in mind to sell an organic product, and a mission to educate her customer base, she then began building her business plan and looked for resources to review her plan. That is when Ebony found Meda.
Ebony registered to meet with a business consultant and secured a meeting with Uri Camarena, who reviewed her completed business plan and gave her valuable feedback on strengthening the plan. Ebony used this feedback to make revisions and returned to Uri to move forward.
Obtaining this (what capital? That wasn’t mentioned in the services sought) capital is a crucial step when building a business, and Ebony had built into her plan the condition that she would receive a business loan through her longtime bank. Ebony asked Uri to go with her to the bank for moral support; however, her bank denied her request. Undaunted, Uri presented Ebony’s unique business model to Meda’s loan department for capital.
After some in-depth research and many conversations to explain the potential of her hairline and beauty supply business, Meda provided Ebony with a working capital loan. The loan enabled Ebony to purchase her product from the distributor, to lease an office space and showroom, and to work with stylists in order to sell her products to consumers across the world.
“I would probably be doing this out of my home,” Ebony said. “I wouldn’t have an office or space to hold my products and equipment. I would not be able to collaborate and work closely with stylist on the level in which I do now. Without Meda’s help, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Now that her business is growing, Ebony keeps her eye on the goal of having a brick-and-mortar beauty supply store that offers organic hair and quality products to her customers. Ebony currently concentrates on the evolution of the brand, enlightening and increasing the lives of extension and wig wearers alike, collaborating with beauty professionals as well as future charitable contributions.
She has this advice for other entrepreneurs: “Keep the faith during rough times and be consistent. Even if you fall off track, you can always restart.”