Haute Kinky Hair CEO Toni Murray On The Details Of Running A Naturally-Textured Hair Company

September 24, 2014  |  

Toni Murray is CEO and co-Founder of Haute Kinky Hair, a naturally-textured premium virgin kinky hair extension line founded in 2012 with the purpose of helping professional woman find a protective style that suits their lifestyle and resembles their natural hair texture. With a growing social media following (over 10,000 Instagram followers), Haute Kinky Hair is a brand to watch in the kinky hair extension space.

Murray has over 10 years of experience in banking and real estate and holds a bachelor’s in business administration and an MBA in finance and real estate development. Murray currently runs Haute Kinky Hair while managing several business and pursuing a doctorate in natural medicine. We stole a few minutes to find out how she manages it all.

MadameNoire (MN):What inspired you to start Haute Kinky Hair (HKH)?

Toni Murray (TM):  I used to wear protective styles that did not recognize who I was as a person working in the corporate world. Instead of doing the straight or wavy wigs, which clearly wasn’t me, I wanted my hair to be naturally textured. When I came to work with my naturally textured hair, it became a question as to, “What did I do to my hair?” I wanted to maintain my hair without having to manipulate it too much. I wanted a texture that actually looked like naturally textured hair and acted like it.

MN: What did you have to do to get Haute Kinky Hair off the ground?

TM: Because I had businesses before and they did not do so well, I learned from my mistakes which was a good thing. People feel that if they start one business and it doesn’t work out that the next one won’t work out but actually it’s a stepping stone for what to do right the next time.

When I started Haute Kinky Hair, I did a lot of research on the hair industry. Before I launched, I would wear each line, manipulate it, and figure out what worked and what didn’t work so that we could also figure out what kind of instructions to give people when they got the hair.  I also traveled to Thailand, China, and Brazil to talk to suppliers.

MN: What is it important to travel and talk to hair suppliers in person when starting a hair business?

TM: If you are really invested in your business, seeing your suppliers and making sure that they are doing the correct thing for the extensions that you are going to sell and learning the process they use is essential. You want to be able to provide your customer service team information about how to address hair issues. If you don’t know what is going on with the hair, you can end up with a lot of inventory with a lot of issues.

MN: How long did the research stage take before you took the product to market?

TM: One year. I actually wanted to make it last two years but I had to bring it up by six months. I gave the extensions to YouTube bloggers IknowleeKyssMyHair, and Ambrosia Malbrough to test and to see how they liked it. Since they started posting pictures and doing YouTube videos on it, people started requesting it earlier than I planned for. I had to launch three months ahead of schedule.

MN: How did launching ahead of time impact the business?

TM: It was a good decision. If I waited any longer, the customer would have wanted to know what kind of business this is. People don’t like waiting for something if others are approving it. The fact that they are willing to do preorders and get their extensions three weeks later, I knew I was on to something. They trusted the brand. I had people who knew how to wear extensions and were a voice for them in terms of natural hair and protective styling that they trusted.

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