Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Casey Simmons, Owner of Royal Locks Curl Care, located in Miami, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Royal Locks Curl Care is a brand of curl-enhancing products made with high-performing ingredients and natural botanicals built for simple routines. Our customers are women and men ages 30-65 years old with textured, wavy, curly, or coily hair.
Tell us about yourself
It all started with having my first child. I experienced all the hormonal changes of motherhood, and my formerly pin-straight hair became wavy. Struggling with my new identity as a mom, this different look added an extra layer to figure out. But it’s just hair, right? Wrong. I knew finding confidence and balance would take time, but I liked that my new wavy look seemed to express who I am: unique, approachable, and fun. So, I started with the hair.
Of course, finding the right products was a journey in itself! My research found that many women like me experience changes in hair texture throughout their lives or choose to stop straightening and wear their hair naturally curly. These women were also overwhelmed when attempting to understand how to manage their new curly patterns. Additionally, they too, felt a connection between their look and individuality. Changing your hair changes how you feel, and for many, it is important to have your look represent the real you.
When I discovered Royal Locks Curl Care, I loved that the products worked with simple steps that fit into my new lifestyle while delivering beautiful results. Now at the helm of Royal Locks, I work closely with the brand’s formulation chemist. I test new products with my curly-haired husband, Duncan, and our curly daughter, before going to a diverse panel of curls. Through proven formulas, education, and community support, I empower others to find and express their unique beauty. My vision is to develop high-quality products that work hard so you don’t have to and pair them with simple routines and styling techniques that fit into your lifestyle - for curls that look and feel like you.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Rejuvenating a brand during COVID-19. This required strategy of many interconnected objectives: redesigning brand guidelines, research, physical production, and marketing/public relations.
Market and consumer research consisted of consumer focus groups and interviews, as well as a formal product concept test for new essential sets. Physical testing of the products was done with the help of our curl panel (approximately 100 persons of diverse ethnicities and hair types). Price and other competitive analyses were also done.
I became a subject matter expert in the science of curly hair and led the brand to be an integral part of the consumer community through empathetic and impactful storytelling of my own experience. We also decided that this required moving manufacturing facility from China to the US. This meant working with chemists and engaging in a new factory. Unbeknownst to us that COVID was coming. There were many supply chain issues. We didn’t have bottles, some key ingredients, etc.
Fortunately, I am very resourceful and also know how to pull out top talents from team members and delegate accordingly. My Brand Strategist and I dug in. We learned all the ins and outs of how these partners worked and were able to better prioritize and line up timelines. We were able to make interim solutions and helpful negotiations- at times, we got scrappy and were essentially bartering/sharing.
My approach is authentic- I lay out the situation at hand, ask for opinions on how to solve the problem, give my own analytical and critical thinking perspectives and solutions, and then ask how I can help the team (what they need from me to accomplish the tasks).
We took it all and packaged it up into a relaunch of a rejuvenated brand with products for better performance and cleaner ingredients made in the USA. We found our customers wanted it all- curl enhancing products that work well but that can be used with simple routines. Timed it all for launch in a drip campaign format.
In the end, we had delays, just like most retail and other companies at that time. However, our rejuvenated brand and reformulated products were successful. We had a successful marketing campaign with our community of influencers. Our repeat rates are 20%.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Change. Competitive landscape, consumers’ needs and wants, tools, technology- it all changes. As an owner, you really have to understand how to adapt, but when the timing is right. I don’t think it’s a good strategy to continuously change your vision or operations drastically with every industry trend. That could lead to growing pains. Instead, keep steadfast in what you do best, just be willing to adapt as necessary for effective growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your due diligence.
- Be an authentic leader. There is a huge talent pool out there, use them and take advantage of their capabilities.
- In general, scale gradually, but if a unique opportunity arises that you feel strongly about - go for it. Focus your efforts and resources there.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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