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Dionne James Discusses The Success of Her New Vegan Hair Care Line and Her Journey

Dionne James Soulutions is a vegan hair care line designed to cater to African Americans that is taking the beauty industry by storm. After breaking into major online stores such as Essence Shop and Walmart.com, it is clear that the momentum for this business is picking up. The company launched at the beginning of the pandemic and is doing better than what some may expect. To learn more about this pandemic success story we caught up with the soul behind Dionne James Soulutions, Dionne James. Here’s what she had to say about the line and her journey.

Responses were slightly edited for cohesion.

Background

Dionne James, originally from Queens, New York, took over the hair care scene in Richmond, Virginia at the tender age of 20 when she opened her own hair salon shortly after relocating there. “When I got there, I realized it was fertile ground. I didn’t see any shops; it was nothing like New York because we had shops on every corner. It was strange to me and I realized I needed to open something quick. After a short time of working in another hair salon in Richmond, I was able to build a clientele of 200 people and then I found a location and I said, ‘I’m just gonna go for it’.”

Like many entrepreneurs, James was met with difficulties. Some of which started with the resistance from her family after sharing her decision to drop out of college and pursue her career as a cosmetologist. “I figured the best way to prove them wrong was to show them,” she said and it’s that passion that has funneled the decade-long success of her salon, Essence of Braiding and Weaving, and led to the creation of the vegan hair care line Dionne James Soulutions.

“After about eight years in business, I found that there weren’t any natural hair care products out then. So, I started creating stuff at home and started selling them. Then I decided after selling my two exclusive products – the Lemon Legacy and the So Fresh So Clean Dry Shampoo – to do a whole line. I launched the product line during the pandemic, which was scary, but we got it out.”

What was your experience launching Dionne James Soulution during the pandemic?

“The pandemic hit right after I finished everything. I was nervous because I thought I was going to have a big launch party and now we can't even go outside. I realized this was gonna be difficult and I immediately started to promote within my power at home. I started selling everything online until we could reopen because I knew that it would sell in the salon once we opened back up. So, I had to rely on promotion through social media.”

What are some issues you ran into when starting Dionne James Soulutions?

“I ran into a problem with one of my products, I realized that I didn’t want to use it and decided to take it off because it wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. It didn’t represent our brand. Since it was still at the early stages I decided to get rid of it and replace it with something better before other people got attached to it.”

What is the experience you want your product users to have with Dionne James Soulutions?

“I would want them to have a non-harsh experience with a natural product that would achieve all their hair goals: stimulate and nourish their hair while giving them shine and most importantly, the moisture that they need.”

How did you get your products on Essence Shop and Walmart.com?

“I did all of that during the pandemic, believe it or not. I reached out to Essence in March and they recently contacted me. As far as Walmart.com it was simple, you just call them up. Then, I stumbled across a website called rangeme.com, you pay a fee to get on this platform so that different places can find you because a lot of times you have to find a platform that they go to regularly to look for products like yours.”

What lessons have you learned on your journey?

“I’ve learned that you should create a team first. Do not try to do everything by yourself because I did and I think that it would have been a smoother situation if I would have built a team. If you can’t afford to build a team, barter. Find some people that are as passionate as you are about your vision and maybe you guys can barter in some way so that you can just create a team that can help you take your business to the next level.”

What is some advice that you can give entrepreneurs that are just starting out?

"Get the help if you don’t know something. If you need a financial advisor or an accountant to get set up with your business, get help. It’s ok and It’s out there. If you don’t have a lot of money, there are a lot of ways to get around that by just exchanging services. Don’t try to do it on your own and don’t assume because it can come back and bite you if you don’t have all your ducks in a row as far as your business and setting it up correctly.”

What’s next?

“I would love to get into a lot of different stores so that everybody all over the world can benefit from my products. Also, I have a book coming out that is geared towards showing people how to diversify their income called “The Hustle Is Real.”

To keep up with Dionne James and Dionne James Soulutions follow their Instagram @dionnejamessoulutions or visit their website.

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