14 Aug Banking on Beauty: Julian Addo is Building the Ultimate Haircare Brand Here in Dallas
In an environment where many are decrying the death of brick and mortar storefronts, Julian Addo is leaning into the in-person shopping experience.
“It [opening a store] is only risky if there is no experiential element,” Addo said. “People want an offline experience.”
She would know what a good experience looks like. As the founder of Bella Kinks Expo, an annual beauty event that aligns with her lifestyle brand Bella Kinks, Addo has grown the event so large over the past three years that the 2018 Expo will be hosted at Dallas Market Hall. Men and women from around the country come to the Expo to see, touch, sample and smell the latest in beauty and haircare, hear influential entrepreneurs and beauty influencers, and attend workshops.
Addo’s experience with Bella Kinks, the Expo, her years as a salon owner and her consultancy work with beauty brands opened her eyes to gaps in the market.
“I didn’t see a brand that represented who I was as a Black woman,” Addo said. She was seeking clean aesthetics, transparency in product ingredient lists and pretty packaging, referencing Bite Lab in Soho as her example. So she did what any entrepreneur does when they see a market, she created a solution. Adwoa Beauty, a socially conscious, lifestyle beauty brand for curly and kinky hair was born.
To fully understand Adwoa Beauty and what it represents for Addo, you can start with the word “Adwoa.” The term is a nod to Addo’s heritage – her father is from Ghana, her mother from Liberia – that means a female born on a Monday in the Akan day naming system. The significance of a female born on Monday is “one who is philosophical, determined, and filled with intense desire to endure.” Once you meet Julian, you know the words fully capture her spirit.
“I want to normalize being kinky.”
“I want to normalize being kinky,” Addo said, using the often maligned term for highly coiled hair but in her own winking manner. As a hair stylist for more than 20 years, she knew what she wanted her product to look and feel like.
Once she decided on her branding – serenity blue to fit both men and women with lowercase letters in the font for a playful vibe – she moved to production.
Her warehouse when she started in October 2017: her living room.
Despite describing herself as “anti-retail,” Addo recently participated in the second Target Takeoff, a retail bootcamp that is part of Target’s accelerator in partnership with Techstars. She joined nine other beauty companies in weeklong series of workshops led by industry leaders in Minneapolis, followed by three weeks of teleconferences and a return to Target headquarters where she refined her pitch and participated in a product showcase.
Next on her list for growth is improving her shipping processes and hiring staff while bootstrapping growth. Currently, Addo is in the final phase of opening her Adwoa Beauty experience in downtown Dallas. Customers will be able to try products in person, and Addo plans on hosting community events such as styling workshops and fitness classes.
When I asked her why she, born in Liberia and raised on Staten Island, chose Dallas as the city to plant her business roots as opposed to Los Angeles or New York, she explained that the city is “underrated.”
“I want to be part of the city’s growth,” Addo added. “Not in the suburbs but in the heart of the city. I want to make Dallas the place to be for natural hair and beauty lifestyle brands.”