Grandmother invents Million Dollar slip-on Hair Extensions business, gets worldwide patents

michelle elizabeth

Necessity is the grandmother of invention in the case of Michelle Elizabeth, a mom to 5 and grandmother to 10 who is also the brainchild behind an innovative hair extension company that owns several international patents.

Elizabeth founded Effortless Extensions,  a business that sells slip on hair extensions that are an alternative to professional sewn in or glued in extensions that last from three to six months, as a personal solution for dealing with her very own overprocessed hair.

So the story goes that the Washington DC-area entrepreneur had accumulated over 10 years of  permanent  damage to her hair from too many chemicals, products and styling.  Eventually, she decided to do the BIG CHOP and cut her hair super short.  During the periods when her natural hair  was growing back, she said she needed to figure a way to “fake it”.

And after realizing the products on the market then were too time consuming to insert and maintain, she figured out she could make her own easy-to put on extensions, thus the birth of the slip on extensions.

Eventually, it became a profitable business.

“After I created my Effortless Extensions, I wore them for about 4 months before ever showing them to anyone,” said Elizabeth. ” It didn’t occur to me that it would be something other women would want it too.”

The entrepreneur revealed that after she shared the  invention with her hairdresser, the stylist screamed in the shop and asked her to make one too.

“I had my first customer!” Elizabeth beams.  After that Elizabeth showed the extensions to a business woman who agreed to be her angel investor and backed the company.

Today, the pieces, which are available in 26 color shades, beginning at $79 and include four straight and three textured styles, start  in China at  a factory the company owns but are finished and manufactured here in the United States.

effortless extension

 

Elizabeth, who currently co-hosts a the online Radio Show “Slip It On & Let’s Talk with M&M” with EE’s Executive Director of Operations Mindy Bundy, says she and her partners travel to the factory regularly to inspect and ensure quality control.

What about protecting the intellectual property behind the concept?

Elizabeth and her team sought out to get their the process patented but quickly learned it would be a long and arduous process

“When we first filed we thought it would just take a few months to get a patent,” she recalls. “How naive we were, but in fact it took us 6 years for the first patent to be granted, and that was many many rejections and rebuttals later, not to mention the costs. But we now have been granted 30 patents World Wide.”

Currently, Effortless Extensions has a wide variety of customers, including many online stores such as SallyBeauty.com, myeasyextensions.com, Hairquality.com, and Beauty.com.  In addition to international distributors, EE also sells directly from its website to the consumer.

The customers are also reacting positively.

” What we hear the most from our customers is how much they love our Extensions and the difference it has made in restoring self confidence,” Elizabeth notes.  “It’s very humbling.”

People even put it in their daughter’s hair for a low fuss alternative to professionally installed extensions.

004-horz1-vert

compliments MommyPR

Elizabeth advises other women who are interested in launching a products-based business:

Do your research, having a comparison of what your product has to offer in regards to what is being sold, will offer you a better perspective of what the consumer is buying. There will always be competition , you just have to know the market you are in and find that niche that puts your product above the rest.

And while enjoying a very successful venture, being able to sustain the business and future growth from sales alone, Elizabeth reflects that if she could have done anything differently she would have built a network of business relationships that would have been around to  assist in giving solid advice.

“Knowledge is power!” she says!

 

Why you shouldn’t Fall into the Trap of Purchasing Fake Followers

fake followers

by Marsha Friedman

If you get spam emails, you’ve probably seen subject lines like this:

“Buy followers for cheap!”

“Look more legit – Twitter followers $2.99 per 1,000”

Boosting your following on social media for just a few bucks can be tempting. Popularity increases perceived value, so a large audience conveys clout and credibility. It’s also an endorsement of you and your message by other individuals, businesses and entities using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

But paying for those followers can have the opposite effect. Cheap “followers” are often dummy accounts, overseas users  (many businesses pay low-wage workers overseas to create fake accounts), and inactive accounts. And there are plenty of free online tools that can quickly tell you how much of an account’s following is fake.

If you’re a celebrity or politician, that can make for embarrassing headlines. If you’re a business or individual trying to market yourself or build a brand, it can make you look downright untrustworthy.

On the biggest platforms, the money spent on followers will ultimately be wasted. Twitter and Facebook now routinely delete fake and inactive accounts. Those 40,000 Facebook “likes” you bought can disappear in a matter of days. And the sudden drop in numbers will alert any real followers you have that you’ve been artificially bulking up.

Fake followers also defeat the purpose of social media marketing: They’re not real people who are going to spread your message and who might eventually do business with you. Their only value is in making it appear that you’re popular.  Until you’re not.

Don’t succumb to the come-ons for cheap followers. Even if it’s just a dollar, it’s a dollar wasted – or worse.

If you’ve never bought followers, it’s likely you have a few fakes and inactive accounts following you anyway. That’s not your fault; they’re out there and most people have some!

It’s a good idea to periodically do some housecleaning and get rid of the accounts that aren’t doing anything for you. Our in-house team of social media strategists at EMSI Public Relations shared their thoughts on how to do this for the largest platforms – Twitter and Facebook:

  • For Twitter,  use free online tools to see what percentage of your followers are good accounts.

We use fakers.statuspeople.com to see what percentage of followers on an account is genuine, inactive or fake. If 80 percent or more of your following is good, you don’t have to worry about appearing disreputable. And keep in mind, the tools that tell you how many fakes you have are neither foolproof nor entirely accurate.

That said, fake and inactive followers don’t do you any good. Engaging users – having them respond to, retweet, favorite and “like” your content – is what helps create future customers.  Clean house by running your account through ManageFlitter.com.  This app identifies which of your followers are fake, among other details, and allows you to easily remove them.

  • Review those who have liked your Facebook page.  Businesses, brands, artists and others using Facebook to interact for promotional purposes use pages specifically designated  by Facebook for that purpose. People simply “like” your business page rather than submit a friend request as they do with personal pages. The number of likes you have indicates the number of followers you have. Again, since the value of the platform is getting people to engage by sharing and “liking” your content, it’s better to have 500 engaged potential customers than 10,000 followers in India.

Review who’s following you by going to the Admin Panel in the upper left-hand corner of your community page and clicking “see all likes.” Go through the list – you may recognize names of regular customers or people who often “like” or comment on your content. Check the user profiles of the ones you don’t know, or who look less than genuine, to decide if they’re real people. The list gives you the option to remove anyone with the click of a button.

If you haven’t purchased followers, cleaning house once in a while shouldn’t be much of a chore.  Your reward will be having a higher percentage of engaged users who will actually help spread your message to other potential customers or clients.

Marsha Friedman is a 24-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a top public relations firm that provides PR and social media services to businesses, professional firms, entertainers and authors. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The Three Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business.” Tune into her weekly Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman.