In Conversation with Sharon Pak and Jordynn Wynn of INH Hair
Describe your business in a few words?
We sell modern, high quality, on trend hair pieces at an accessible price point.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
One of the main problems we saw when researching the hair space was the extreme variation in quality and price point. It was very difficult to find high quality pieces at accessible price points. A lot of wigs and ponytails are hundreds, in some cases thousands, of dollars. On the other end of the spectrum, the pieces that were affordable were very low quality. They were made of plastic, smelled terrible, and you could not style them. One wig we purchased for research purposes was modeled after the Kim Kardashian silver hair with dark roots and the roots were literally drawn on with a marker.
Based on our market research we knew people wanted to experiment with wigs/extensions but didn’t feel confident in the quality or reliability of the available brands. All of our wigs are ready to wear with pre-plucked natural hairlines. For our synthetic pieces we work only with high end, special fibers that, though a bit more expensive, are the closest thing to natural hair. They are extremely soft, lightweight, and can be heat styled up to 400 degrees.
For our Remy Human Hair pieces, quality again was a major factor. There is a lot that goes into getting the right hair. Many hair companies actually include animal hair or synthetic fibers in the extensions that they claim are 100% Human Hair. Seemingly small factors, such as the direction of the hair follicles, make a huge difference in the quality and longevity of your human hair pieces.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Jordynn Wynn: I was the first employee at ColourPop Cosmetics. I started 2 years before the brand launched and helped concept and launch the brand. While there I grew from Marketing Intern to Marketing Director and led the build out of the influencer and collaboration program to name a few.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Jordynn Wynn: At heart I have always been entrepreneurial. At Pepperdine University I had everything from a cheese board company to a recruiting company, and in between classes I ran “braid bars” for local families I nannied for. Growing up, I struggled, as most young women do, with self-image. I learned to channel this into experimentation with hair and beauty, and it became a tool for me to express myself and better my self-perception in a healthy, happy way. I felt like I had discovered something precious, and I wanted to help other people access it.
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?
Jordynn Wynn: We learned very early on that pairing influencer marketing with performance marketing fosters a significant degree of credibility. Even if customers do not immediately buy your product when they first see it on their favorite influencer, it’s all about building brand awareness and eventually converting those viewers to sales later down the road. An example of this that we love is when Carli Bybel’s mom saw INH ads, then subsequently heard Carli’s friends talk about INH buns. She is now on her third bun and has converted three friends! Consumers are so much more likely to purchase when they are served an ad by a brand they have heard of before from a reliable source.
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?
Jordynn Wynn: When we first launched INH, we predicted that our wigs would be our number one product, so we purchased a hefty initial order. However once they launched, wigs turned out to be our lowest sellers in comparison to other sku’s. Our first wigs in particular were extremely slow. It took us over a year to sell through our first set but we are happy to say that we have learned a ton about our customer since then and now our new launches often sell out within 48 hours! From this experience we learned that it is better to start small. Always try to learn and optimize. It’s okay to sell out and restock later. If you are launching a brand with a limited budget, it’s more important that you have the funds to later purchase items that definitively ARE selling. The financial capacity to react to trends and sales is much more important than starting out with tons of products.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Jordynn Wynn: I think hitting 300k followers on Instagram a little over a year into the brand was something we were all really proud of here at INH. We have never purchased followers and mastering the ever changing Instagram algorithm is not easy.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
- Do you prefer a structured or fluid work environment?
- How do your friends describe you in three words?
A special type of person thrives in a Startup environment. It definitely isn’t for everyone. Regardless of position you need to have an entrepreneurial, do whatever it takes mentality. If you aren’t passionate, hungry and love what you are doing then you will probably really struggle in this environment. When we are interviewing we are doing our best to screen for people who have that special drive. If you are someone who loves structure and wants a clean 9-5, it’s probably not for you. If you are someone who is eager to learn, always trying to grow and push themselves you will THRIVE in this environment.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jordynn Wynn: When Covid-19 first hit we decided to postpone our upcoming launches. During these uncertain times, we wanted to be sure that we were being sensitive to our customers and understanding what were stressors, and what were soothers.
After holding out for a few weeks we received a lot of feedback from our existing customers saying they were experimenting and playing around with new unique hairstyles and learning new skills at home. We also received messages from a lot of new customers who really expressed gratitude for how easy and DIY our products are.
That being said, we decided to go ahead with our scheduled new launches. Some of them had been slated for festival season but given the fact that they are really fun items we think our customers will be excited to play around with them at home. We are hoping they can bring some additional cheer
We did change up the marketing strategy a bit to be more “Couchella” vibes vs the festival content we had originally slated so it was a bit more relevant to current times. But otherwise our general marketing plan stayed largely the same.
One of our main strategies is engaging and interacting directly with our audience. I think that during times like this it’s especially appreciated because involving our followers and customers in the process has given something to look forward to and participate in that is out of the norm of their typical day to day.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Jordynn Wynn: Over the course of the next year we will be focusing on laying the foundation. The benefit of being self-funded is that we have full autonomy to focus on our vision for the brand. We want to continue building out the vision of where we see hair going in the consumer space and make sure we are delivering the products and the trends that our customer is looking for. One of our main focuses will of course be brand awareness, community growth, and building out an amazing customer experience and journey for our new and returning users.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Jordynn Wynn: My co-founder Sharon Pak is the yin to my yang. She has been by my side throughout my entire career. We learn so much from each other, provide honest feedback, and most importantly, support each other. We were made to work together — our skill sets are perfectly complementary. I love wild-storming big ideas that Sharon can finesse into something that is actually realistic. My strengths are more centered around copy and strategic concepting, while Sharon is skilled at creating and implementing structure, and has an amazing visual eye.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Jordynn Wynn: I feel so conflicted on this question. I truly think that nothing comes easy and if you really want success you are going to have to work hard for it. I have never met a successful entrepreneur who did not completely grind it out with ZERO work life balance for several years. That being said, everyone has different goals and interests so you have to choose what makes the most sense for you and your dreams. My biggest tips:
- DO WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVE WHAT YOU DO! This is so cliche but so, so true. If you love what you do and are passionate it’s hard to STOP working.
- Respond to what your body, mind and soul need. Working hard does not mean never taking time for you. For me there are some simple things that give me the break that I need. Everyone is unique but for me I know I need to work out 3 times a week, spend at least one night a week reading or watching a favorite show and scheduling time to chat with friends and family.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
Jordynn Wynn: I’m originally from Montana and Wyoming. That always surprises everyone! Also I can speak French!
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
To me, it’s a mindset. You need big, clear, dreams and have the confidence to make some very scary leaps, hungry enough to work long and hard to HOPEFULLY get there some day.