Seldom is it easy to convince someone with extraordinary ambition and hustle that they can’t achieve what they have set out to do. When naysayers doubted Latrice Rogers’ investment in hair extensions and her plan to sell them out of the trunk of her car, she proved them wrong. Little did they know that her investment of a few hundred dollars that she saved while working at Office Depot after graduating with a degree in Biology from Jackson State University would be the seed money for her multi-million-dollar business, Goddess Lengths. Now as a CEO, Rogers is letting the world in on some of her business secrets.
In 2014, Rogers decided to take her love for hair care and beauty to the next level after realizing how lucrative the industry was becoming. She secured a business license and set up shop out of her car in a Target parking lot and began to sell Goddess Lengths hair extensions and beauty products.
“I would have people wrapped around the car like it was McDonald’s! I was selling bundles of hair out of the window,” said Rogers. “After a while, a security guard came over and asked what I was doing. I told him, and he went on to tell me that I was amazing-but that I was also sleeping on myself. He said, ‘Imagine if you had your own location. If you have all these people at your car God knows what you can do if you had an actual location.’”
Pay Attention To Positive Words Being Spoken Over Your Business
Those words of encouragement implored Rogers to bet on herself again and rent a retail space until she could earn and save enough money to secure a store. And though she did it afraid, she was willing to take the risk. With much success, Rogers outgrew the space only two months into her lease and went on to open the doors of Goddess Lengths Virgin Hair Bar in Jackson, Mississippi in 2016. “Goddess Lengths is a beauty bar with makeup artists, stylists, and estheticians. We meet the beauty demands of many,” said Rogers
Yet, keeping up with those demands at times became challenging because of the premium services that Goddess Lengths offers in Jackson with little competition. That, and some women’s love for hair and beauty. Early on, Rogers worked closely with influencers and forged relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to employ students as ambassadors to spread the word about the business.
In hindsight, Rogers entered the industry at an opportune time. After a year of research, communicating with manufacturers, and investing thousands of dollars; Goddess Lengths introduced the first-ever hair vending machine to meet the demands of customers and to extend the reach of the company.
An Out-of-the-Box Idea Is Worth Pursuing
While the idea seemed odd to some, Rogers had a gut feeling that investing in and creating a hair vending machine would set her business apart from the competition and could become a viable source of income for the company. And she was right.
“I didn’t want to build the typical vending machine where you press ‘A1’ and then a bundle of hair would dispense. My machines are advanced. Social media is integrated into the machine so that you can tweet and get a discount code. There’s also a way to get a feel for the hair,” said Rogers.
The first Goddess Lengths vending machine was strategically placed in North Park Mall in Jackson central to her store’s location and customer base. People initially laughed at the idea and Rogers ended up laughing to the bank.
“On the day of the launch, we had hundreds of people lined up to purchase hair from the vending machine,” said Rogers. The uniqueness of the machine intrigued mall guests and brand loyalists showed up in great numbers. To Rogers’ surprise, a man began to record what had become an event. She immediately thought, “I’m about to get put out of the mall. I didn’t think the man knew the magnitude of hair and beauty. He had stern look on his face and every store in the mall was complaining about my customers blocking the entries to their stores. So, I was scared,” said Rogers.
“The same man called me into his office on Monday. He proceeded to tell me that he sent those videos to the CFOs of the mall and that they wanted to place my vending machines in their malls across the country,” said Rogers. “That’s seven malls-which was amazing. Especially since I was only in my third year of business. That was a lucrative year. I made a few million that year,” she added. To date, the company has three vending machines. Two of the machines are on the campuses of Tennessee State University and Alcorn State University.
Present-day, Goddess Lengths is thriving. Having built an e-commerce store in addition to the physical property, Rogers positioned the company well. And Rogers said that it is a blessing that her business has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic. “This has been the most lucrative year thus far. And I can’t keep the vending machines stocked!” she said.
Show Up For Yourself As You Do Business
Beyond dollars and cents, Rogers said that it’s important for her to always be learning what’s required for her to keep her doors open. “A lot of people think that selling hair is easy. But you have to properly set up your business, have a quality product, excel at customer service, and have a competitive edge.”
It is equally as important to her to show up as her authentic self. In January, Rogers stepped into the spotlight as a cast member of OWN’s reality show, “Belle Collective”. The show is centered around five Black female entrepreneurs who are determined to break glass ceilings.
In deciding to join the cast, it was important for Rogers to vow to uplift others and make sure that Black women are showcased positively. “I’m always poised, and I am a shrewd businesswoman. I made it my rule to always show up looking my best, to never degrade myself, or another person,” said Rogers. Since being on the show, she has kept her word. And she encourages other entrepreneurs and businesswomen to make it a rule to show up for themselves and others.
Her advice to those looking to start any kind of business is, “Consistency is key and to not sleep on yourself. I doubted myself so much in 2014. I was depressed at times, but I had to keep going,” said Rogers.
In addition to wrapping up the first season of Belle Collective, Rogers is expanding her beauty empire with a hair care line, E’Sensual Beauty.