How your connection to family, culture, and ancestry inspired or influenced your journey to entrepreneur?
Jodie: I start washing my kids at 3 weeks. So from 3 weeks old to our grandparents who’s like 70. So when we start to think of what we wanted from the line we knew we wanted something that was natural. We wanted something that would cross over for men and women. We wanted to make a line that no matter where you were, no matter what person you were with, it would work. It doesn’t look like a baby line. It doesn’t look ‘male’ or ‘female’ so we have a lot of people that come in and buy our washes. We get moms who use the baby wash on themselves. As a family you can pick it up and travel with it and stock every bathroom and bedroom in your house with it. That was important to us. The honesty of it.
We’re a small company and we like the idea, it makes us feel safe to work with other small companies. Eventually that will change a bit as we grow, but it was a good starting point for us.
So relationships are important?
Jodie: Relationships are good and the transparency. The owners and founders of the company know what the company is about and they understand small business. They’ve allowed us to grow small and take small steps. So Kiara will order 10 [units] of our product at a time sometimes. A lot of times you have to order thousands from these major production companies. That could stop an entire line for a business our size. We would just never be able to do that, so Kiara can decide what we need for the week, and not have to decide what we need for the next 6 months.
It also allows you to try new things, right?
Jodie: Exactly. In this economy it has helped us come up with new business practices. When we first started our business, Kiara was a stickler for paying upfront and not having any debt and that gave us really strong footing with our vendors, because they were like, “Oh, small business-and they pay! We like them.” So they answered our calls. When the economy changed and we had to say, “Listen we want to work with you. Our customers love you, but we can’t sit on inventory and we can’t pay until we’re paid.” So we negotiated, messaged, we talked and shared and opened our store up to them and created a different business model that allows everyone to get their share when the customer spends. Consignments has been a great for us.
How do you select the products for the store? Is it based on trends? Sales?
Kiara: Everything in the store is basically our ‘favorite things,’ so you won’t see a million things in here. It’s a really carefully curated list of products, so anything that’s chose to be in the store is already a special thing.
In terms of the ordering, the ordering is based on what’s selling the fastest. Everything in the store is product that we actually use on our families and at home!
Jodie: Retail give you a quick insight on what works quick! Almost immediately. You don’t have to do months of analysis. We are a store that does a lot of research for you. When you come in you are going to find things that may typically be hard to find or things that we’ve uncovered. [Our products are] hard to find, from all over the world. We’re global as a team. Our families are from all over, so our likes and tastes come from all over. With a focus on ‘our’ beauty. I think, the fashion industry looked at the buying from a straight hair perspective and everyone one was seen in terms of [the idea] that if your hair’s not straight, how off from straight is it? Straight-haired women determined the buying for the industry. We flipped it and said everything should be based on what curly-haired women need, because what curly-haired women need is more essential nutrients, more hydration. Now you’re seeing women with straight-hair needing, because of environmental damage, the same things that curly-haired women have always used an relied on.
Tell us more about the vintage-inspired retail concept and how it evolved.
Kiara: One thing that was important to me when we started Georgia is that we have a place that celebrated all different types of beauty. You’ll see we have family and friends on the wall. History and memory are very important. In addition to being fresh and new we have all of this history behind us.
What have you heard as far as trends, tricks, and popular products and concoctions for curly haired women?
Kiara: We see a lot of women who are transitioning from relaxed to natural asking, “How do I style my hair?” “Do I need to cut off the ends or not?” So in terms of trends that’s one thing that I think is hot right now, people moving away from chemicals.
Jodie: We have a stylist that double stranded twist within a twist. So usually, you take 2 pieces [of hair] and wrap them, and then dry your hair and then you open it and it’s all crinkly and beautiful. She does a twist within the twist and then the double strand, so you have even more texture. It’s really cool.
In general less is more. Less product in general. Less chemicals. Less heat. I don’t think the styles are changing so much. Women still want their hair really curly and big or really, really straight, or bouncy, but their finding they can get those same results with less damage to the hair. Less product and maybe the mix of 5 different products. So we encourage people to diffuse product in first on the hands and then work it through the hair. It’s really consumer friendly because you use less product.
What is your ultimate vision for Georgia?
Jodie: There’s so much attention to detail that’s allowed with having one store. Every package that goes out from web sales is hand wrapped and everything is placed ‘just so’ and in every area we can be really, detailed, but bigger plan is to have this as our flag ship and build a business that is beyond just one store. So [with growth] you have to understand that it’s all about the small things. Down to the placement of the product on the shelf, everyone that comes on to the team understands that it’s not about neurosis; it’s that THAT is it. That’s what we’re doing. Someone one told us, and it was so brilliant, “Shampoo is shampoo. You’ll sell shampoo or you’ll have a brand that speaks to Georgia and what that means.” I’ve seen it happen. You can put the best products on the shelves and no one buys it because they didn’t connect with it. They didn’t see it. All of these details are what we talk to each team member about first. I think we’ll continue to do that and we’ll work with other companies that do the same thing.
To shop Georgia products, or to get more information visit www.GeorgiaNY.com