Influencer Freddie Harrel on Starting a Successful Beauty Business

Freddie Harrel is one of those impressive people who seem to get so much done. I see the day as a success if I have made it to my gym session before work, but Harrel’s is multifaceted, and her CV is packed to bursting. Not only is she an Instagram influencer (she has 183k followers and counting), she is also a successful businesswoman and new mum. Harrel launched Big Hair No Care, selling natural 0% human hair extensions, and opened a pop-up in Brixton in summer 2017 that brought her e-store to life.

We called on Harrel to share five tips every budding businesswoman should know.

Listen to People—That's Where Ideas Come From

“Big Hair No Care started in 2016, but it came out of the blue. My husband had just gotten this amazing job opportunity in Geneva. We went to live there, and I was worried that it would slow me down. I needed something to do that I could set up quickly!

“That’s when I got the idea for Big Hair No Care. I absolutely love a huge afro; my real hair has less volume, so I add extensions to it. I used to use human hair but then got super grossed out after looking into it and watching documentaries. I’ve never been happy with the synthetic options you find on the high street—too shiny, too flimsy—but thankfully I found a supplier years ago, and we then worked together to find a texture that matched my hair to perfection.

“I had been using the extensions for years, with people amazed when I’d say it’s not all mine, but I had no brand to guide them towards, so that’s how the idea came up!”

Bring Your Brand to Life

“The pop-up was like an ode to the modern, liberated, self-becoming black woman. You can expect a very cute-looking shop miles away from the sticky-shelved stores you can find on the high street. We stock our Zero Drama Queen Clip-Ins (from $59) and Lace Front Wigs (from $180); the way products displayed made it really easy for our visitors to understand how easy and effortless they are.

“We showed them how to choose the style, the color, the length, the volume, and we have tutorial videos on loop. I think we tend to look for experiences rather than just products. Our brands are experiences—you need to ask yourself what is the experience you want to offer and why would it be appealing?

Don’t Limit Yourself

“Every month at the pop-up, we had an event focusing on a beauty topic, be it hair or skin, a panel or workshops with influencers and experts on the matter to educate ourselves more on our hair. But we'll also have another career, lifestyle, networking-related event.

“I always say that before I’m a woman, before I’m black, I’m Freddie. And the realm of possibilities that stands in front of you when you remove your barriers is insane! I wanted these events to be a chance for all of us to hang, completely stripped from these restrictions because trust me—as women, as black women, we restrict ourselves so much that we end up shrinking ourselves.

“Through my line of work, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and befriend amazing women who let go of their barriers, and I loved to bring them in for these events so they could inspire the rest of us the way they’ve inspired me, so we got to hang and make new friends, but most of all, so we all got to leave feeling like we’re limitless!”

Support Other Up-and-Coming Brands

“We stock ethical and/or organic beauty brands [at the pop-up]. So far, we have Afro Hair & Skin Co. and Jim + Henry; we’ve also added a photo of their founders on the shelf with a bit about their story, because I think it’s super important to know who’s behind a brand but to also see that it was a brand made by someone whose skin and hair is like ours.

“And because a healthy hair journey also starts with the confidence that our hair is beautiful, I wanted to stock kids books where our curly-haired children get to be heroes, books that I enjoy reading to my son, such as the adventures of Otis and Thea Lemon to Miles and Mia.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

“I’m learning on the go and mostly from mistakes!”

Related Stories