It was about 2 weeks ago I got a Facebook message from a friend/entrepreneur who asked me if I was interested in speaking at Pecha Kucha Bangkok Night. I had no idea what Pecha Kucha was, but I said yes and was so happy that she reached out to me to share my passion for healthy hair care. I knew early on going down this "entrepreneurial path" and living in a foreign country it would not be easy, or cheap. No one in my family owns their own business or working in their "dream job" so for me to go down this path, I was on my own and at many time I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I need to meet as many people as I can, surround myself around entrepreneurs, business owners, people who live their dreams, and create an extensive network. Luck is something that is not just random, but with hard work and the right network, one's luck will increase. So, when my friend/entrepreneur sent me that message, even though I haven't seen her in over 6 months, I knew that this was an opportunity that I should take. Plus, what would I have to lose?
After excitedly signing up and filling out the forms, I researched what exactly is Pecha Kucha night, and learned that it was created in Tokyo for creatives and designers to introduce their work to the public. And what made this introduction so special was the style of the presentation was that speakers had 20 slides and each slide was given 20 seconds of screen time, thus giving the speaker 6.54 minutes to make a presentation. This was a new style of presentation that I never heard of and eventually appreciated because too often I went to events and got bored after 10 minutes of long-winded presentations that never seemed to get to the point. As for me, creating a powerpoint presentation of healthy hair care and showing pictures of my story of and how I got started was a challenge that I was more than happy to take! What I was nervous about was how people would accept my presentation on healthy hair and why it's my passion.
Since moving to Thailand and starting Healthy Hair Asia, very few people are aware of the "Natural Hair Community" on YouTube and Facebook, and how the hair care industry is a multi-billion dollar global business that is not exactly regulated in regards to consumer safety, health, and environment. So, my challenge when it came to creating this 20 slides was, where to begin? Do I begin with my 8 year journey of natural hair, or about the toxicity of chemicals in our hair products?
Looking at pictures and my old notes from when I started my hobby of healthy hair care, I started my presentation with a question many women ask themselves when they look in their mirror, "Is my hair healthy, is my hair beautiful?" and some facts of signs of unhealthy hair: shedding, balding, thinning hair, etc. and continued showing pictures of what unhealthy hair looked like and common problems that lead to unhealthy hair, from hairstyles, lifestyle, ingredients, and factors out of our control, like genetics and age. And most importantly, the chemicals that are in our hair care products that are extremely harmful to our health such as, parabens, mineral oil, isopropyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and more thanks to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database that measures the toxicity of cosmetic products. And from there, I transitioned to "All hope is not lost" because with slight changes in our diet, lifestyle, and how we take care of our hair. Next I went on to present products people can find in their kitchen or gardens that can be used in their hair, from aloe vera, eggs, banana, avocados, olive oil, and my favourite coconut oil. These natural ingredients do wonders for the health of your hair. Plus, they are not too expensive! And for the rest of my presentation I showed pictures of my 8 year natural hair journey that began when I was a university student and cut off all my hair, to my tiny weeny afro (TWA), to my big afro, to locs. My message was how I joined this online community that has taught me so much about healthy hair care, and how I want to give back and teach others how to have healthy and beautiful hair!
With a kick ass slide show, my next step was presenting this in 6 minutes. Now, I'm not afraid of public speaking because I'm an English teacher and have to present and teach in front of an audience every day. So with this talk, I looked at it as a class that I would be teaching, just much bigger and with older students! And, with that attitude, despite my nervousness and shaking hands, when it was my turn to present, I took the mike and walked on stage with full confidence and talked about healthy hair care in Asia.
This week I all be giving a talk/presentation at Pecha Kucha BangkokNight!
Pecha Kucha Night was created in Tokyo as an event for designers to meet, present, and introduce their work in public.
The presentation is where designers show 20 images, each for 20 seconds!
Pecha Kucha Bangkok will have speakers share their stories, skills, passion and hobbies to creative and fun people in Bangkok. So come support me and other creatives!
Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017
Place: Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration
What I will present: Basic healthy hair care, ways to improve your hair problems using natural products easily found in your home or local market, and will also have a booth to sell products!
Facebook Page: Pecha Kucha Night Bangkok
Hope to see you there and bring your friends!
When I first started selling healthy hair products it was to friends and my inventory was a small box of shampoo bars I brought with me when I moved to Bangkok. My homemade hair masks and hair rinses would come to mind months later as I ran out of shampoo bars and needed to make another order. If you live in Bangkok and get mail, you know how expensive it could be and the chances that customs might hold it, if the mail is too big or weighs to much is very high. Well, I decided to take my chances not only because of my hair needed special products but because more and more friends asked me for products and encouraged me to focus on selling products rather than building an online professional hair network (that was my first venture: Natural Hair Capital) because people were more interested in products and I could not compete with Facebook or LinkedIn. After 3 years of research, interviews, and meeting people in the online Natural Hair Community, I had to face hard truth that Natural Hair Capital was not going to be profitable. Though NHC was not profitable, the connections I made with women entrepreneurs has been invaluable and many product makers were happy to work with me to expand their customer base in Bangkok.
So half way into 2016 and when I needed to replenish my hair products, I ordered hair products not only for myself but enough for friends and to sell online. Shampoo bars, liquid shampoos and conditioners that were natural, chemical free, and from the US I knew people would definitely appreciate quality products! The challenge I learned getting into the cosmetic business is, the way to market to customers in Thailand is very different from westerners, so despite good products I also had to learn how to market to expats, Thais, and in a country where packaging and cuteness was very important. In addition, logistics of shipping cosmetic products and dealing with customs (many don't speak English and how online tracking tools are not accurate so it's really a game of luck). Despite the challenges and the many mistakes I made, to play it safe I thought to myself, "I can make products from local fruits and oils to that customers who appreciated fresh and completely natural products. Back in university when I started my natural hair journey I made hair masks out of eggs, avocados, and aloe vera and gave samples to my natural hair friends, so I could definitely do it here. A few weeks of practice, giving out samples, and waiting weeks for my imported products, I was in business for myself and discovered Chinatown (my new favourite place) and it's many suppliers that would help me create cute and marketable packaging for fresh homemade products.
The creation of Healthy Hair Asia, fresh homemade hair masks and rinses, imported natural hair products, and hair care really came together in November 2017. I officially expanded my customer base to include all hair types: straight, wavy, curly, kinky (No more My Sister's Closet for curly hair care), I created my Facebook shop Healthy Hair Asia which enables me to keep in contact with my customers and get feedback (good and bad), established a wonderful and supportive network of friends after living in Bangkok for officially 1 year (all my friends have tried out my products and gave critical feedback so I can improve my products and marketing), and I participated in my first market as a hair vendor at theCommons in Thong Lo (all my friends came to support), and most importantly that many people are silently suffering from hair problems, whether its hair fall, shedding, dry hair, slit ends, itchy scalp, people are too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help or know where to buy good products. My first year in business (well starting as a hobby) I have learned a lot have big plans for 2017.
Healthy Hair Asia in 2017 friends, customers, and whoever cares to shop or take a look at my Facebook page will see new products, nicer pictures and packaging (I am so ashamed of the pictures I posted when I first opened my Facebook shop!), informational videos (how to use the products), workshops, and hair service for all hair types.
The shop will be opening on Thursday January 19, 2017 so check out the Facebook shop (I'm still updating and making changes) and let me know what you think! So excited thank you all for being with my on this amazing journey!
Happy New Years everyone! Its been an incredible journey starting this business, I learned so much, met great people, and have big plans for 2017!
We will open again in mid-January, so I haven't forgot about you all, just rebranding, mastering new products, and reorganizing a few things.
For now, stay happy & healthy!