Karen Flowers with her daughter
Grant Recipient

January 4, 2023

2022 Year-End Business Category Grant Awarded to Curl House

Curl House

Woman Entrepreneur:
Karen Flowers

WomensNet is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2022 annual $25,000 Year-End Business Category Grant.

She is Karen Flowers from Chesterfield, Virgina. She won the August 2022 Hair Care Products Grant, and is the founder of Curl House.

Karen has a passion for teaching women to embrace their natural hair. She has done that through education, and a line of proprietary haircare products. She used the grant streamline her marketing efforts and saw record-breaking sales during Black Friday and the holiday season. Her plans for the $25K are to purchase her first mass-produced batch of products from her new manufacturer.

Video Transcript

WomensNet: Hi everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our business specific, year-end Amber Grant winner for 2022. Our year-end winner receives an additional $25,000 on top of the 10 that they already received to continue to fuel their company’s growth. 

And this year we are delighted to announce that Karen Flowers of Curl House has won the grant. So I’m Marcia Layton Turner. I’m one of several WomensNet Advisory Board members.

Karen, I know that the year-end is a really busy time of year, so thank you for finding time to chat with me about your company, and the impact that the Amber Grant has had on your business already. And also what you’re going to do with the 25,000. So, thank you. 

Karen: Thank you. 

WomensNet: You won the Amber Grant, really not that long ago. You won it in September, and you were just so helpful in providing an update on what that money has done for your business. So could you just share with everybody, some of the big wins that you’ve had in the last few months? 

Karen: Absolutely. So since winning the grant in September, I requested the grant for marketing. At Curl House, we are a product-based business, so we do make products for healthy scalp, hair loss… but we were transitioning from being a full service hair salon. We functioned as a hair salon for like 12 years. So I really needed the grant to kind of reposition Curl House as an e-commerce product brand, and I really needed it for marketing. 

I was able to put that $10,000 into marketing. So the first thing I did, I hired a social media expert. When she looked at me, she said, ‘you know, Karen, you are your best marketing tool. We need to get you out in front of social media.’ So I had a social media page, but wasn’t really active. She said ‘you’re your best marketing tool. I want you to educate. No one can market your brand the way you do.’ 

And with her, we created a whole strategic plan on what type of education. We created reels, for Instagram, for Facebook and YouTube. And I got in front of that camera and I taught, and I educated about hair health, scalp health and the product line. And I started doing that right at the time I received the grant in September. So by the time the Christmas holiday rolled around, Black Friday rolled around, it was like I had sales goals of at least $10,000 over that weekend. I wanted to sell out and I literally sold out. And that was just from getting in front of the camera and marketing my business, that social media. So marketing is what helped me so much. I was able to invest so much more into marketing and I got it all back — then some. That was just for that holiday weekend.

WomensNet: It was a hundred plus percent more than last year. Right? You more than doubled.

Karen: Absolutely, everything more than doubled. Because I did the marketing on Instagram and YouTube, we got orders from all over the country. I’m in Virginia, so most of my orders came in from the East coast… sometimes one or here from other parts of the country. But during that… they came in all over. I even got a lady who requested products and she lived in London. And I’m not even set up in London yet. I’m preparing to do that, but I wasn’t ready to go to London, ship to London. And she emailed and emailed and she said, ‘please, can you please send me your products? I’ve been following you. I’ll pay for shipping, please send them.’ And I thought, why not? So part of next year I’ll be shipping more internationally. 

So, everything increased: products increased, my impact increased, the people I service increased… I received orders from the East coast to the West coast to Maine, Florida, to everywhere. I haven’t hit all 50 states yet, but I could, and I could see just how many orders were coming in from so many people. And not just from Instagram. I was able to track where the orders were coming from, like the social service, Instagram and YouTube. That increased the percentage by over 200%. Just the social traffic. So I was able to take that data from my e-commerce and really use it to my benefit. Because I’m a data person, I love data. I even learned that 90% of people purchase from people they follow on social media. 

And I thought, oh, that’s the power of social media. So it was just absolutely amazing. The marketing. I also am going to use part of that initial $10,000 for Facebook ads. I actually tried to do a Facebook ad; that’s not as easy as people will people think. I just thought, lemme just pull together ad… no, that didn’t work for me. So I took a training a couple weeks ago on how to actually do Facebook ads. 

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t push Facebook ads, because I wasn’t ready for that yet. I think it would’ve just been too much, but going into next year, it’s gonna be right on time. And I’m also going to bring on a PR person too. So just social media marketing is key to growing a business. That’s what I’m learning.

WomensNet: Amazing. You’ve done so much in really, what, 90 days or so? Way to go. 

Karen: 90 days. Yeah. It’s just been such an awesome experience.

WomensNet: So that was what you’ve done with $10,000. Now that you’ve won an additional 25,000, how are you planning to use that money? Are you going to put more into those initial three areas? Are you looking beyond that? 

Karen: Well, the 25,000 will be specifically used to hire a manufacturer. So it is time for Curl House to scale. As I was saying about the Facebook ads, had I really promoted via ads, I think it would’ve been too overwhelming to handle all the orders. But now that I’ll be able to bring on a big manufacturer, to have my products more mass produced, then I will be able to do more ads and I won’t have any limitations on how I can really promote Curl House. Because I’ll have the product to support the new demand. Now it’s all about scalability. So I’m going to use that 25,000 specifically to bring on a big manufacturer that I have already identified. I’ve been kind of working with someone for two years. So I’ve known to really bring on a manufacturer, it’s going to take time. 

So even though I wasn’t ready financially to bring on a manufacturer, I knew it would take time for me to get there. So I’ve already researched, I’ve already been working with someone to have my products formulated and stuff at a big manufacturer. And I just got confirmation that my products are ready to be manufactured. So it’s like getting this grant now was the perfect time, because now I’ll be able to take the entire 25,000 and send it to my manufacturer in Florida. So I’m really grateful and really excited— to scale at a greater level. 

WomensNet: And so since you sold out during your Black Friday promotion, obviously this capacity is going to make a huge difference. When do you think they’ll be online and able to actually be producing your products? How long does that take? 

Karen: Eight to twelve weeks.  

WomensNet: That’s not bad.

Karen: No, I’ve already done the hard part, like behind the scenes, like getting the products just right. I’ve already done that part. So yeah, that took 24 months because I actually reached out in February of 2020. It’s been a long time. That actually did take months; now that everything is done and everything is signed off, this is the easy part. So they’ll do everything. I’m really excited about that. So I will actually be able to scale.

WomensNet: So now that you have plans to move to a manufacturer, looking ahead three to five years, where do you think you’ll be? What’s your business going to look like in the next few years? 

Karen: Well, Curl House… my passion has always been to help women to embrace their natural hair, and also to teach them about scalp care. And, to help them to grow healthy hair. So, all about hair. I’m a trichologist, meaning I also specialize in hair loss. I know that restoring the hair has a lot to do with what goes on within the body. So the Curl House hair restoration collection that I have now — products are awesome, but in addition to products, if you’re dealing with hair loss or scalp issues, sometimes that may be rooted in what’s going on within the body. So you may have to make some lifestyle changes as well. S three to five years the product line, it will continue to grow. In addition to that, I’ll bring on another product line that’s going to be more specific to hair care. 

The current product line is scalp care and hair growth. Then I’ll have a product line that’s specific to hair care — more style products. And the third component within three to five years is to open the Curl House Academy, which will be more of the education. So I’m an educator as well. I love, love, love to teach. So I really want to continue to teach women, how to care for their hair and scalp and their body. So both hair and health. They really go hand in hand. Healthy hair starts from a healthy body. So three to five years I’ll have an amazing, booming product line, expanded products for natural hair care and an academy to actually teach people how to care for their hair from the inside out. That’s the plan. 

WomensNet: Fantastic. And I know you’ll get there. 

Karen: Thank you so much. I know I’ll get there with the help of WomensNet. Yes. I’m already getting there with your help. I thank you guys so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

WomensNet: It’s our pleasure. We’re so excited for you, and we can’t wait to hear the next update on where you are with these additional funds. So, congratulations again on winning our year-end grant. 

Karen: Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it.

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What people are saying about WomensNet

Forbes

“You have to be in it to win it...seize the opportunity and apply.”

Nerd Wallet

“The Foundation awards $10,000 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $25,000.”

Score

“Launched 20 years ago this grant honors the memory of a young woman who wanted to be an entrepreneur but died at age 19 before she could achieve her goal.”

Fundera

“The Amber Grant Foundation was launched in 1998 to honor the memory of a young woman. The grant was formed to help women entrepreneurs reach their goals when Amber could not.”