Let's backtrack to Detroit in the '90s. The city was famous for throwing extravagant hair shows. Hair Wars, one the biggest annual touring hair shows in the states, started here. Heck, Detroit was even called "The Hair Capital of the World," before Atlanta hijacked the title. But now, it's 2015 and a local business owner is recapturing those bygone heydays of hair.
LaToiyah Roland is the 24-year-old owner of I Wear Glam Hair, a company that specializes in virgin hair extensions and state-of-the-art beauty products. Its mission is to give women the opportunity to feel and look beautiful from the inside out. Whether it's wigs or weaves, they help provide a confidence boost for the everyday woman. Roland, a Detroit native, started her million-dollar hair company by serendipity just two years ago. While working as a nursing assistant and in school to become a nurse, she launched the business as a way to supplement her income, but her dedication and the attention to detail she paid to her side hustle resulted in an unexpectedly high demand for her product.
"I had started the company, but I never had intentions of it being super big. I just wanted to make extra money, but it just kind of happened," Roland says.
When things didn't pan out with her nursing career, Roland decided to grow I Wear Glam Hair into something more than just a hobby.
"When I first started I would get like an order a week," Roland says. "Then it increased to like maybe two or three a week. So everything was going good. As I started posting, networking, and meeting more people, it started growing. At this rate I wasn't ready to grow with it because I was working 12-hour shifts. I never expected that I would have to quit my job. What ended up happening was I had made an error at work and I ended up getting fired. Once I got fired I was like, 'Oh my God, what am I going to do? I have to find a new job!' The company was randomly picking up and I was making more money than I was at my job, but I didn't know that it would be consistent enough."
Once she was able to concentrate on I Wear Glam Hair, the business took off. By October 2014, Roland was able to open a storefront in Dearborn and with continued networking, her product landed on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, worn by music superstar Rihanna. Since then, business has been booming and celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Taraji P. Henson have become customers.
"A lot of the opportunities that I've had, they were because of me," Roland said. "They weren't because of somebody found Rihanna or Nicki Minaj for me. Like Nicki Minaj for instance, I saw her at the Louis Vuitton store in Las Vegas, that's how I met her. I talked to her, I gave her my business card and it went from there. Same thing with Rihanna, I met her stylist on Instagram and we messaged each other back and forth for a little bit. Everything that I've done has just been through networking and talking to people. I feel like anyone in business should network and take advantage of social media."
Part of Roland's success was knowing the company wouldn't take off overnight. She had to stay the course to see results. She says she owes that perseverance to her hometown.
"A lot of times, I'll see people start companies and they will give up," Roland says. "It's not going to be easy and it's not going to happen overnight. Nobody is going to wake up and say they are going to buy your product. You have to get it out there, you have to brand, you have to build a reputation, and you have to be committed.
"I'm so happy because I see so many young entrepreneurs now. It's amazing, that I see people in their 20s with their own businesses. Detroit is a hustling city. I tell people that all the time. I know some people in Detroit who hustle and grind for what they want. I think it comes from our culture here. I've witnessed people start from the bottom and I'm proud to be one of them."