That sensitive skin paired with sometimes high-maintenance hair can be quite a lot of work for even the most vivacious of redheads. That’s why sisters Stephanie and Adrienne Vendetti, both natural redheads, decided to do something about it and help their fellow man (well, redheaded woman) with their lifestyle brand HowtobeaRedhead.com.
The site features redhead-specific hair accessories, including bobby pins and hair ties (if you’re a redhead you’ve probably noticed that most hair accessories don’t cater to you). The also offer fun content like “Scientists Warn: Redheads Could Face Extinction Due to Climate Change” and “12 Reasons Why Every Redhead Should Love Lucille Ball”. Posts are tagged under categories such as “Hair,” “Confidence,” “Healthy Living,” and “Redhead Celebrities.”
“Growing up, we loved beauty products, but finding the right items for our sensitive skin and hair was a nightmare. It took us buying hundreds of ‘redhead friendly’ items to get it right. One day in high school, we looked at each other and said, ‘We know how to be a redhead.’ The name stuck. We always joked that we would come out with a book titled ‘How to be a Redhead,’ because websites weren’t as popular as they are now,” said Adrienne.
Stephanie noted, “We wanted to create a place where redheads could go and feel beautiful, something we didn’t have when we were teenagers. It can be tough being a redhead, it’s almost like you’re a minority because you look so different. When we launched HowtobeaRedhead.com, we wanted it to be a positive, confident environment that also gave the top beauty and fashion advice for redheads.”
We were lucky enough to talk with these busy sisters about their exciting new brand.
Why did you start this business? It’s got to be hard and expensive! Had this always been the goal? Had you been working other jobs and saving money?
Adrienne: You’ll be surprised, but starting a website isn’t expensive. At the time, we knew nothing about websites and probably spent too much money getting it up and running. But with what we know now, you can easily start a blog/website and begin building a brand with little to no money. Once the money starts coming in, spend it on a solid website. The trick is to stay diligent and consistent. We have never missed 1 day of posting on our website or on social media. We’re constantly reaching out to brands and media.
Stephanie: When we launched HowtobeaRedhead.com on January 11, 2011 , I was a senior at the University of Miami and Adrienne had just graduated. At the time, Adrienne was working at a law firm in Boston and taking her LSAT’s to go to law school. I was in the process of applying to Marketing jobs in New York City. We had spent some time together in October of 2010 and said to ourselves, “What are we doing? Let’s start How to be a Redhead.” It felt so natural and “right” from the start. We moved to New York City and never looked back.
What did you wish you had known before starting a business?
Adrienne: Oh wow! So many things that Stephanie and I frequently talk about writing a book about our experiences.
First and foremost, you do not need to spend a ton of money to get a website up and running. Find a really good IT guy (they can be hard to come by) and keep it simple at first.
We let our audience guide our way. We started out as a blog, then a website and now a brand. As the money came in, we continued to build our brand. When our followers would ask for more “beauty advice” or more “fashion advice,” etc, we’d do more of that and kept going.
And secondly, take risks. People thought we were absolutely CRAZY for starting a brand geared toward women redheads and we’ve proven them all wrong. Now people tell us, “Wait, you mean there wasn’t already a beauty website for redheads? That’s so cool.” It’s really great to see how the tables turn.
What do you think you have done a good job of when it comes to launching a company? Any big mistakes you made that you learned from?
Stephanie: We are really motivated and very goal oriented. We have a list of goals in front of our computer at all times and work really hard to make them a reality.
Adrienne: In terms of mistakes, I think it’s best to make things work for you first and foremost. It’s easy to make the mistake and say, “Well, let’s wait for XX company to get back to us before we go forward.” Don’t do that. Do whatever you can to make it happen and what you wanted from the start will come to you at the perfect time.
The great thing about your company is that you are helping redheads find the best beauty products for their delicate skin and hair. What are some products that are great and won’t break the bank?
Stephanie: Helping redheads find beauty products is so rewarding. We wish WE had How to be a Redhead when we were growing up. Not only do we strive to give the best ‘redhead friendly’ beauty tips, but we love how we empower redheads to feel beautiful. There is a lot of bullying that takes place and it’s great to receive emails from parents/young girls on daily basis who say, “Thanks to your website/social media links, my daughter/I am able to go to school and feel confidence.”
Adrienne: We love ‘redhead friendly’ beauty products that will not break the bank. We love anything by Tarte, Covergirl LashBlast Volume Mascara, L’Oréal Carbon Black Telescopic Precision Liquid Eyeliner, Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick-Kate Moss Collection (Yes! Redheads can rock a bold red lip).
Any personal finance tips you can share with us? How do you save money when starting a business?
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?
Stephanie: Our goal is for every redhead woman in the world to know about How to be a Redhead. We definitely want to pursue a book about redhead beauty and fashion tips, roll out an app for all redheads to use for their daily life, continue to build our social media presence (we already have 120,000+ redheads in our network) and most importantly, grow daily.
Any more tips for young women thinking of starting their own businesses? What are your best tips for building a strong brand, which you clearly have (they have close to 85,000 followers on Instagram!)?
Adrienne and Stephanie: Starting a business is the best thing we ever did. It’s so empowering to create something out of nothing and see it blossom. For young women starting out, these are our tips:
- Don’t Give Up: Along the way, there are going to be so many opportunities to quit. Don’t listen to anyone. Our dad gave us a great piece of advice, “If someone laughs at your idea, it’s a good thing. It means you’re on to something.”
- Don’t Let Money Get In Your Way: This is a tough one, but with any startup business there will be some sort of financial barrier. No matter how many bills you have to pay (we understand living in tiny NYC apartments along the way), do not let money get you down. There is always a way to make things work and part of being an entrepreneur is finding that way.
- Follow Your Gut: When things get tough, follow your gut. For us, we always knew How to be a Redhead would succeed and anytime we faced a struggle, we followed our gut— which told us to keep going.
- Stay Motivated: We wake up at 7am every day eager to work. We are constantly reading and listening to motivational pieces (we love Anthony Robbins— who doesn’t?!) to keep our mindset straight. If you’re ever having a tough moment, go for a run/jog and clear your mind. Sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from your work and come back with a fresh mind.
- Learn Something Every Day: With the news right at your finger tips, you can always learn more about starting a business. We’re constantly reading up on entrepreneur stories and success stories to gain wisdom.
What are some of your best tips for starting a brand?
- Logo: Design and perfect the perfect logo. It all begins here. Put it on everything important.
- Take Yourself Seriously: Your work reflects your brand. Take yourself seriously and put the time in to make your work look gorgeous. People, especially women, admire pretty things!
- Construct Your Brand: Name yourself an LLC. People will take your business far more seriously if you are legally a business! Make sure to trademark and protect all of your work.
- Plan: We aren’t avid believers in “formal business plans” and that sort of thing, but we are believers in having a plan of action. If your next goal, for example, is to start a Kickstarter campaign, don’t “wing” it. Put time and effort into making it successful.
- Don’t Forget Social Media: It’s the backbone and strength of every company. Don’t disregard it! 99% of our sales come from social media.
What’s it like working with your sister? Do you separate business from personal?
Adrienne: We love it. That isn’t to say we haven’t had arguments because what sister duo hasn’t?! We have learned living in a small New York City apartment and working together wasn’t the best idea (laughs). My husband and Stephanie’s boyfriend are best friends from middle school, so we have a lot of fun on our free time.