Let us hear an inspiring tale of this young talented girl who transformed herself into a leading businesswoman by setting a real-time example and inspiring other women along the way. Meet Leah Kay- Founder and CEO of Soulvation, who discovered the business world and stumbled into entrepreneurship in college.
While pursuing her master’s and running around the campus in a messy bun like most other girls, Leah wanted to find a way for her hair to look composed yet chic. The generic headbands during that time were unattractive, uncomfortable, and too sporty. Leah wanted a headband that made her look cute and feel comfortable.
However, she was not able to find any headbands that she wanted. So, she decided to take this matter into her hands and find an ideal solution. She borrowed her mom’s sewing machine, went to the local fabric store, and started hand-sewing her headbands. Leah soon started wearing her headbands that grabbed the attention of her friends, who asked her for the same. This hobby led her to start a side hustle during college. After finishing college, she worked full-time into her side-hustle and built her brand.
The Journey to the Forefront
With zero experience in business and entrepreneurship, Leah decided to put in the work and learn everything with her action-driven approach. In January 2019, she quit her education to follow her dreams. She started hand-sewing headbands around the clock, created her website, started posting on social platforms, and shipped orders alone.
Initially, she started with $300 and dreamt of establishing a multi-million dollar brand. As the profits started swinging in, she rolled it over into buying more inventory. With her go-getter mindset, she built a 6-figure brand in the first year of her business. In 2020, it grew to over $1,800,000 in sales, and in 2021, she envisions closing the year with $5-6 million in sales and project $15 million in sales in 2022.
Today, Soulvation has expanded beyond headbands into other hair accessories and new apparel this year. The brand won the Top 50 Colorado Companies to Watch in 2021 award.
Meeting the Customer Standards
Most hair accessory brands provide mass-produced products that compromise quality for quantity by using sportswear-type fabric and a worn-out design. On the contrary, Soulvation provides high-quality hair accessories for everyday wear, not just at the gym.
It uses butter-soft fabric for products made up of bamboo fibers. This fabric has natural benefits like it is stretchy, super soft, hypoallergenic, moisture absorbing, antibacterial, UV protectant, insulating, and doesn’t absorb stink as cotton-based material does.
Instead of marketing towards a specific target audience like the fitness industry, she developed the brand to pivot into more of a hair and lifestyle brand that is stylish and comfortable for everyday wear. The hair ties are also a game-changer. “We improved the basic black elastic to look like more of a bracelet design. They look like bracelets but work just like an elastic hair tie! These are so popular that we have trouble keeping them in stock. We are always developing new, limited edition colors for all of our hair accessories”, states Leah.
Acing the Challenges with Ease
Every day monotonous work gets in the way and becomes a measure of losing interest in our passion. By working at an organization, one can grow in so many ways. Leah loves building a brand because every day is a new challenge to learn from and grow. These challenges are the growth drivers of a successful future. The challenging scenarios make you think outside the box and adapt to change. Few days like these will be hard, however, taking risks and overcoming challenges is the way forward.
Times of Setbacks
Mistakes are bound to happen as an entrepreneur. However, these mistakes are a way to learn new lessons. Leah’s biggest mistake in building a brand from the beginning was trusting others to take tasks off her plate. Being a perfectionist, she wanted to do it all. However, she changed her mindset and delegated the roles to the right person.
Triumphs to Cherish
Leah’s greatest achievement is creating opportunities and providing jobs to women on the team. The Soulvation employees are hard-working and motivated women; who are growing personally and professionally in all kinds. It has been an exciting experience showing them the ropes and behind-the-scenes action when building a brand.
Leah’s secret passion is teaching; she loves teaching others the power and rewards of entrepreneurship. She loves to invest her time and knowledge into those that want to learn and progress in their lives.
Some of our employees are working on getting their brands off the ground and following in my footsteps or even one day outgrow me. I want them to do big things and to follow their dreams. It’s one of the perks of working on our team – I’ll push you outside your comfort zone if you want to grow.
Leadership Principles the lead the Pack
Every leader is known for their unique leadership style and skill. Here’s how Leah walks her talks:
- She recognizes the team members’ strengthens and helps them grow to their maximum potential. The team is skilled in setting goals and creating a positive, empowering, impactful, and motivating work environment. She provides them with regular feedback on challenging projects to promote holistic development.
- Keep the team lean and let them reap the rewards for going above and beyond. The employees get rewarded for their performance and hard work with gifts and bonuses for accomplishing their goals.
- Cut the cancerous employees who are not able to meet the company standards. On the contrary to hard-working employees, the opposite type of employee inevitably presents themselves on the team. One should hire and fire accordingly. Positivity, hard work ethic, and willingness to grow personally and professionally are must-haves for a team.
- Make time for team bonding and always have an open door. Celebrate special days and occasions with the team and enjoy the fun times.
The Enlightening Success Mantra
As an entrepreneur, once you reach the top of the mountain- it becomes easy to make money, and most people define that as success. On the contrary, providing an opportunity and experience to those willing to grow is how Leah defines her success.
Her mantra in life is to keep growing and vouching towards personal growth. She will continue to pursue things out of her comfort zone and help people follow their dreams and turn them into realities.
Leah is a holistic leader; who aims towards the utmost growth of her team. She works with an easy-going approach, where she assigns and teaches employees the task and gives them their space to work on it. She refuses to micromanage and let the employees learn on their own.
She has got their back at all times; however, if an issue arises, Leah is confident that the employees should figure out a solution before coming to her. This way, the employees feel a sense of independence and courage.
The Next Steps
Soulvation is a 100% women-owned and operated brand completely bootstrapped with zero investors and zero debt. It encourages all women to look and feel their best without sacrificing comfort.
Earlier this year, we donated thousands of our headbands to Sanford Health nurses as a thank-you for all their hard work during the pandemic. The organization has also donated headbands to cancer unit patients and staff. Soulvation aims to give back to many industries and continue supporting female founders to build their empires. Changing people’s lives for the better – that is true success to me.