How A Morehouse Graduate Found His Niche Selling Hair Extensions
In 2009, Nicholas Graham founded Got Virgin, a hair extension, company with no real idea how far his initial investment would take him. The Morehouse pre-law graduate had always been an entrepreneur, both owning and operating several of his own businesses, but the fast rising market of extensions in his community he had never truly explored sparked an idea.
“I wanted to provide women with the best quality hair you could find on the market,” Graham said. “I also wanted to have the most competitive price.” Before he knew it, he had done just that all while creating a trusted and prosperous brand.
Today, Graham’s Got Virgin is proudly owned and operated in Atlanta, Georgia with a showroom where locals can book and appointment and have their mane and extensions primped and pampered. Madame Noire got the opportunity to chat with Graham about his long and prosperous trek from humble beginnings, the challenges that he’s faced through his journey of entrepreneurism, advice for those interested in stepping foot in the industry and more.
Madame Noire: What’s your background and how would you describe what you do?
I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, born and raised. I graduated from Westlake high school and then went on to Morehouse college for pre-law but I have always been an entrepreneur. I’ve had several businesses that I’ve owned and operated since college that were successful but when I got into the hair business in 2009 I found something that I really enjoyed selling. To create the quality of hair we carry I actually travel back & forth to India which I’ve been to over 40 times over the years to oversee the production of our human hair that we sell here in the US via our online store GotVirgin.com
How would you describe your journey of becoming a business owner?
It’s been a journey of ups and downs and learning experiences. It’s been about perseverance, too, and realizing that the corporate world was too vulnerable for me in terms of job security. I always knew I wanted to make a lot of money, and I figured no one else was just going to pay me what I knew I deserved. I knew I would have to earn it for them first so why not just earn it for myself, which encouraged me to go in business for myself.
What was your vision for Got Virgin when you first created it?
I wanted to provide women with the best quality hair you could find on the market. I also wanted to have the most competitive prices. It’s really important to me that I make Got Virgin a household name, when you think of hair you should think Got Virgin, that’s the ultimate goal.
What has been the most useful tool or outlet that you’ve used to keep your business flourishing?
Our most successful tool has honestly been the quality of our product and our price point. There’s no better hair on the market for the prices that Got Virgin offers. We’ve grown through word of mouth; one client falls in love with the hair she tells a few friends then they fall in love and the word keeps spreading.
What are some challenges that you faced during your journey creating this brand?
At first I was naive to virgin hair. I started off selling what was falsely titled Virgin Brazilian hair before I learned that was actually all processed fake hair from China and Korea. Once I learned that I had to reevaluate my business and start over with true virgin human hair, which I learned was actually from the temples of India. I then began to travel back & forth to India constantly to maintain quality control because there are many imposters in India that sell fake hair as well. The biggest challenge was securing and protecting the manufacturing of our hair to keep it pure from ever being blended with synthetic hair. Our latest challenge is keeping keep up with the high demand of orders sometimes [laughs], but that’s a good problem to have.
Being a man in a woman-centric-and-dominated industry, what do you think has helped you be successful?
It’s quite simple: I’m a male that knows how to deal with and talk to women. My clients trust my judgement because they know I’m not just selling them a brand, I’m selling them a product that I worked really hard to perfect. I even notice that when I have women working for my company, my clients would still rather deal with me. Honestly, being a male in a female-driven field, I just naturally stand out, so it just works for me.
What are three tips you would offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
One: Never give up, perseverance is key. With that being said, never waste time on a project or venture that isn’t working out for you. When you’ve realized that you’ve executed the wrong strategy, stop and reevaluate. Secondly, take it one step a time. Entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed with their ideas and usually don’t know how to achieve them. Most businesses I started I never knew anything about, I had to learn how find my way without getting discouraged from the great amount of work it would take. You really have to take it one step at a time. Lastly, the best investment in any venture is thought.