Shaping more than coiffures

Enterprise: Natalie Anne

What makes her so successful: Already a leading hair artist, industry educator and social media influencer, Natalie Anne is launching a haircare range and helping bring aid to those doing it tough.

Hair artist and social media educator Natalie Anne has built a seven-figure empire out of ventures she launched from her mum’s garage. “Before I could afford a dedicated shop space, I created my own at-home salon [in 2012] and just began filming as clients would let me, creating content for YouTube,” she explains. “Soon I was completely booked out, there was no parking for my clients and the council threatened to close us down due to their cars creating traffic issues on our street, so I was forced to scale up to keep that momentum going.” 

The salon she opened up for her eponymous business is known not only for creating beautiful hair, but also for being a content hub and a safe place for women to “come and feel seen, heard and pampered”. The expansion into a large salon enabled her to give back to her mother and family for all the support they had offered when she first started out by making the salon a family business, bringing her sister and cousins in to work with her.

Persistence, ambition, strategy

Natalie has grown Natali Anne as a female founder in an industry traditionally dominated by male hair stylists. Her parents’ influence on her beliefs has helped her. Natalie has never believed in glass ceilings and her parents instilled the belief in her that gender-specific career challenges and societal norms have no relevance in determining what she is capable of, provided she works hard, treats people well and keeps improving herself. “This, coupled with my work ethic, allows me to navigate all of the obstacles I’ve faced – including at times being underestimated, which is just fuel for me to prove them wrong!” she avers.

“It’s so important that we make an impact by offering a hand up, not a handout.”

Natalie has been ambitious, realising early on that solely working behind the chair wasn’t going to have the impact she craved. “I had more to offer the women who trusted me enough to sit in my chair and this led me to develop multiple platforms, with a bridal arm, the education arm, and now the manufacturing arm that produces the NA haircare range,” she explains. “I feel that my intention to inspire women to feel beautiful, confident and empowered, along with my passion for the hair industry, has been a pillar to my business success.”

Her business empire is based on her focus on the ‘value add’ to all facets of her business, particularly around the curation of the content. “I knew I needed the content to be authentic, mirroring the truth in the industry, keeping on top of the trends whilst also giving consumers what they want,” she says. “I have always wanted my content and brand to speak to all types of women, as I believe they should all have access to quality and be able to achieve the luxury of a salon in their own bathrooms, regardless of their demographic.”

She was one of the first people in her industry to adopt an email marketing strategy from a MySpace account. She also ran hair-styling activations in nightclubs, which got her a lot of coverage. “This was the infancy of influencer marketing, and the beginning DNA of my own social blueprint for the content collaborations I undertake today with other brands, which are often with other female founders, like our partnership with Billini and O&M,” she explains.

Natalie builds genuine connections through creative content. Her video tutorials and live streams are both full of instructional and collaborative content designed to inspire and educate. They allow her to diversify her offering by asking her audience directly what they want. “This was a key driver for developing my haircare range,” she says. “And, because I listened to other salon owners, I was able to create with them in mind, so my education arm really took hold. There’s more on the horizon for the business, as I’m now focusing on diversifying my platforms and my voice. We’re developing a kids’ range of hair products.  [We’re] exploring content collaborations in the social impact space, and a podcast that will allow me to share my story and that of other inspirational individuals, to help motivate and drive my audience to seek out their passion and path.”

Social media and social impact

Adopting the role of social media educator has been rewarding, as Natalie enjoys helping people build brands that align with who they are and their values. “My brand was built on ensuring I delivered value to my customers,” she explains. “I have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude when it comes to the integrity of every aspect of my business, which means we listen, care, and are more skilled because we listen to the consumer.”

She sees becoming a social media advocate as an extension of her educator role and a responsibility, and she is passionate about the support, creation and promotion of positive change in her industry, as well as the wider community. “Certainly, I’ve faced challenges as a female founder, but I choose not to be bound by societal norms or prejudices; instead, I’ve simply worked harder, smarter and maintained authenticity around our vision and deliverables,” she avers. “This has served me well in my growth as an educator, influencer, and haircare founder and this is what I impart to others in the industry. It’s no use ruminating over injustices, but there is power in forging change.”

Backing this up is Natalie’s development of a social impact arm to her business – in particular, her work with Vinnies, which she sees as part of a long-term vision to influence meaningful change in communities by creating a connection and nurturing compassion for the most vulnerable. “It’s so important that we make an impact by offering a hand up, not a handout,” she explains. “There is genuine need for the Vinnies Van Services among those struggling in our communities. The vans provide regular support services, nutritious meals and care packages. It may sound simple, but it can have a knock-on effect that is far-reaching and powerful, none more so than enhancing people’s dignity and resilience.” As a brand and business, NA is committed to raising $250,000 to fund a Vinnies Van for an entire year, which will provide 300 to 500 meals a night to men, women and children who are doing it tough.

NA’s latest offering – its haircare range – was born of the belief that other products weren’t delivering on what customers or professionals wanted. Designed to fill a gap in the market with the ethos of ‘luxury meets DIY’, the range focuses on bringing back some of the things that Natalie believes the industry has lost, such as supporting trade customers. “The ‘built by hairdressers for hairdressers’ concept is important to me, as it advocates for everyone in the industry,” she explains. “COVID hit our industry hard, so being able to give back through my educational arm and mentoring the next generation of stylists and content creators to grow their personal brands has been incredibly rewarding. I want to see other stylists succeed and enjoy the positive impact they too can have on people’s lives.”

This story first appeared in issue 41 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine