In Conversation with Cyndrea Mathews of For The Culture Beauty Supply

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Describe your business in a few words?

For The Culture Beauty Supply is a Natural Hair Beauty Supply Store and Salon.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

A natural call to Entrepreneurship and a passion for natural hair care.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

After grad school I started my career in Social Media Marketing with one of the largest independent PR firms. I was there for 6 years, working my way up the ranks before taking the leap into entrepreneurship.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes. I was the little girl with the lemonade stand, the homemade jewelry business, and even started sewing my family’s clothing without them asking and charging them for it (hahaha). One summer my teacher took me to Toys R’ Us as a thank you for helping her clean her classroom, I could have picked any toy I wanted, but I chose a cash register. As I entered my career, this call to entrepreneurship got louder and louder until I could no longer ignore it. I had to take the leap and answer that calling.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

I relied on my expertise in social media marketing to get the word out. Establishing our social media accounts was one of the first things I did to begin building a following well before we opened our doors. That in addition to word of mouth was very successful for us.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

As a self-funded business, finances have consistently been a challenge for us from the start. Working with limited funds forces you to get extremely creative and figure out how to do what you can with what you have.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

One of my proudest accomplishments is launching our mobile app during the pandemic. This was something we wanted to do for a while, but were delayed by expensive quotes for app builds and a general lack of knowledge about how to go about it. However, when the pandemic hit and we were forced to rely on our digital channels to connect with our customers, the need for an app was even more apparent. After doing some research and digging I was able to bypass the coders and even the coaches and figure out how to build the app myself. As the first and only beauty supply store to launch an app, this was a huge accomplishment for our business.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

What questions do you have for me? This shows the level of interest a candidate has, their ability to ask smart questions, and lead the conversation.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a retail store, the “safer at home” orders have limited our ability to serve our customers. We were required to close at one point before we were able to offer curbside pickup. Furthermore, with a salon that contributes greatly to our revenue, we’ve had to close our salon on three different occasions which severely impacted that revenue stream. However, overall we did see a surge in support for Black owned business and beauty supplies in particular, as many traditional beauty supply stores were not prepared to pivot and meet the needs of the customers during this time. We are honored to have been able to continue to serve our community.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

At this point our focus is growth. We plan to expand and open additional locations throughout the U.S.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 is that you have to stay ready and be ready to pivot at any time. Never get so comfortable that it takes a lot for you to get up and make a shift at a moments notice. Initially when we were required to close our doors, there was a moment of uncertainty, however we quickly relied on our available option which was our existing online store and revamped that in order to keep our business running.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

How to run a business (hahaha). When I decided to open my business, I had no idea how to start a business or run one. But I committed to taking everything one step at a time. Leading up to grand opening, I figured out how to register my business, find a location, get required licenses and permits, establish vendor accounts and purchase inventory, purchase fixtures and furnitures, etc. so it wasn’t until after we opened our doors that we had to learn on the go how to run a business efficiently and prepare to scale.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

My faith. God is the head of my life and business, I rely on him every day to get me through. There are lessons he’s taught me in the past that prepared me for this turbulent year, and there were lessons that he taught me through this experience. All things are working for my good.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Absolutely. Though I’m not always successful at it, this is something I truly strive for. As a wife and mother with a business and a full-time job, I do my best to be truly PRESENT in each moment. When it’s time for me to work, I put my focus into that, when it’s time for me to spend time with my family, I have to turn off my work brain and be present in that and enjoy the moment. Time-management is key.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I am the 5th of nine children – I have 5 brothers and 3 sisters. They are my daily inspiration.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Make a to-do list, schedule your day, be present.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an entreprenista means fulfilling my dreams and building a legacy for my family.

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