TractHer TrailHer’s very own Master Extension Expert and Beauty Blogger had the pleasure chatting with Colleen Garey, The Hair Weft Guru. Shan gets the scoop on how to pick out quality hair by inspecting your weft, the conception of I.R.I Extension’s collaboration with Towanda Braxton, and more.
Q. You studied at Manhattan School of Business, what inspired you to break into the beauty industry in the hair wefting business?
A. It didn’t’ start up that way like most things, you know . It just happened to fall in my lap, so to speak. Ummm, I lived in New York for many many years and that was the hair mecca. Everyone was just into hair weaving and hair was just THEE thing and when I moved from New York to Maryland, you just couldn’t find quality hair extensions. That’s how it started. I just got tired of not being able to get the type of hair that I was accustomed to in New York and I kept going back and forth to New York to get hair. Then it hit me like, why don’t I just bring it to Maryland and try here. At the time no one was doing it. The market was different than now but back then, early 90s, you had very few African Americans in the hair retail business. My husband had a barber shop that wasn’t doing very well, so I said hey, let me try this. I got some money together, went to New York, got some beauty supply inventory and started out as a beauty supply store and started out selling, so called, you know, quote on quote, packaged hair. When customers came back and complained about the packaged hair, I said let me try selling the hair I usually wear. I went to New York, talked to a friend of a friend, and they showed me how to get started and I took everything I could from them and ran with it. I came back to Maryland with it and that’s how I got started. But it wasn’t easy.
Q. As a weft guru, what advice can you give to those that are purchasing hair extensions? How can they determine if their hair may or may not shed just by examining the hair weft?
A. You know, that’s a good question because it’s so hard as a wefter. It’s hard to look at a weft and determine if the hair is going to shed or not. You know, it all depends on how it’s wefted and if you sort of educate yourself a little bit on what it is you are buying you know what it is you want. Once you examine your weft you want to make sure it feels strong and sturdy. The ultimate test of course is once you install the hair you hope and pray it doesn’t shed. Another key factor is if you have substandard hair quality, no matter how good the weft is the hair is going to shed and break. Bad quality hair is dry and brittle there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the weft is not the problem but it’s the quality of the hair.
Q. What makes I.R.I Extensions (Innovative Real Irresistible) different from your competitors?
A. I manufacture my own hair. That’s one thing that sets me apart because I know my product and i have absolutely 100% control. Another thing is that there is no middle man. I create my own curl patterns and have it duplicated at a manufacture that we have oversees. That’s what make us so Innovative. “I” stands for innovative, “R” stands for Real because of all the raw materials I used to make my hair extensions, all 100% authentic temple, virgin hair. So, when you have innovation and you have real authentic material you know that makes you irresistible. That’s what the other “I” means. You put it all together you have Innovative, Real Irresistible, Extensions.
Q. Tell us more about the recent collaboration with I.R.I Extensions and Towanda Braxton.
A. Actually that was amazing. You know, when you have a quality product and it gets into the hands of someone who also appreciates having a quality product, you know, doors start to open and that’s exactly what happened with Towanda. She actually is very specific about her hair. My hair got into her hands and her stylist’s hands installed it and loved it. She loved it so much she put her stamp of approval on it. Before you knew it we were collaborating on how she could be the ambassador for my brand.
Q. What can we expect from your brand for 2016?
A. One of the things that I’m very, very excited about is we will be hosting the I.R.I Mega Beauty Expo on August 14th and 15th of 2016 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach Florida. We’re going to have well known stylists and people in the beauty industry including: Kim Kimble, Derek J, Latasha Wright, SewJodie, and many more at this expo that will be teaching classes and it’s going to be the first of its kind in Daytona Beach. Anyone can find out more about the expo by visiting ww.iriembe.com or following us on instagram @iriembe.
Q. How do you balance being an in high demand business owner, a wife, and mother?
A. It’s tough. My life is pretty full but you have to find time. I find time where I set time aside for myself. Mentally I find that I’m a much nicer person when I find that time for myself and just unwind and try to relax my mind and have a more productive day, I have to find the time for family, I have to find the time for work.
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