Karen Mitchell was born in Jamaica and at a young age, her family moved to the United States to live the American dream. Right out of community college, Karen scored a job with a private label fashion manufacturer as a receptionist and after the first year, she was promoted. She found herself climbing the ranks rather quickly and was able to travel abroad and learn new things. This was an overly exciting time in her life because she felt like she had an opportunity that she never imagined. It was all moving so quickly, Karen decided that she should take some courses at a community college to learn a little more about business. 10 years later an aspiring Karen found herself ending one career path and at the beginning of a new one. At this point in her life, she had been exposed to fashion, but she also learned a lot about business. Karen had a hidden gift that she had just begin to tap into. She learned the true grind of business from her mom, who sold cashews to save enough money to move her family to the USA. Her mom did what it took to provide for her family, and it is safe to say that entrepreneurship and hustle was already instilled in Karen as well.
After losing her job in the fashion industry, Karen didn’t let that stop her. She had dreams that was bigger than any setback. She looked at it as a set up for what was next. As Karen set out to make her mark in the hair industry, she begun her journey selling hair on the side and was doing so well; she eventually opened a store. Karen was ambitious and determined she would be successful, after trying many different business ventures; she found what worked for her. The market for hair is very tough to tap into, but she didn’t allow that to stop her. Sometimes, when you cannot make something work, you do not have to settle. We must be able to come up with ideas and become innovative with our approach. Creating something new for herself is exactly what Karen did when she created True Indian Hair. She saw a market where there was not an opportunity for minorities to lead in and she created a space for herself. Karen is a trailblazer and has opened a door in the hair extension industry that wasn’t available to minorities. She has created a brand and now currently servicing a list of celebrity clientele. True Indian Hair is now sold at three store locations in New York, Brooklyn, and Queens, NY. These three sites are all owned by Karen.
Listening to Karen’s story is an example of “how you start, isn’t how you have to finish”. When you want something bad enough, you will do what it takes to make it happen. Diligence is when you keep doing the little things until something big happens. Tapping into the extension market was definitely not easy for Karen. Sometimes people will try to convince you that there isn’t room for you, but you have to let them know that you are not leaving. Never allow anyone to tell you where you belong.
When asked about her success, Karen openly shared her path and even the bumps in the road. We never know where we will end up, unless we decide to dive in and give it all we have. Even when things don’t go as well as you hope it does, you will never know what could happen if you don’t make it happen. Planning out everything, doesn’t mean it will always be a sure thing. You want to write the vision. A loss isn’t a loss, it is a seed planted into your next season. Karen shared that she would do research and study the market. This has helped her as she opened multiple stores. She made sure she was understanding her clientele and giving people what they wanted. One important key to success as a business owner that Karen shared with me is, “a business isn’t a business if you don’t have inventory”. It was the key to her success during the pandemic. During these unprecedent times, inventory has been at a shortage and prices were steadily increasing; Karen kept her business intact and was still able to thrive and service her clients without any setbacks.
As an entrepreneur, listening to Karen’s journey empowered me and gave me so much hope. It’s never easy when you leave your safety net knowing you can expect a set amount of income monthly and benefits. Becoming self employed isn’t easy, but it is worth it. There will be bumps in the road along the way, but that is life. Sometimes, you just have to believe that you can and put in the work and in due season you will reap what you’ve sowed. A harvest will come because it is a part of the process. Karen’s passion and drive for business is amazing, and while listening to her story it is empowering for anyone who loses a job or starting over. Seeing a family like Karen’s use everything they had to change the trajectory of their lives is motivation and inspiration to believe in the impossible.