Hair has always been the center of expression in many women's lives. Before their wedding day, brides spend hundreds, maybe thousands, on hair and beauty products. Others spend thousands of dollars on expensive haircuts and colors. There's a powerful relationship between a woman and her hair. Yet, there's also a hidden truth: many women hide behind hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a more common problem than you might think. This could be hair thinning, balding, or a complete loss of hair. As many as 40% of women in America will experience it by the age of 50. The cause of female pattern hair loss can be hereditary but also caused by certain medications and stress.
Creating B. Renewed.
This led Assunta Wilson to create B. Renewed. She said, "I lost my hair with my second child through postpartum. And I mean, I lost my hair in a complete halo. I woke up one morning, and I had like no hair.
And so it prompted me to want to learn more about hair loss, and I jumped onto YouTube, and many of my videos went viral. I saw that there was a need—a lot of women were hiding behind hair loss. And so many women had questions, and they wanted to understand why just like me. And so, I became a trichologist and wanted to bridge the gap between mental health and hair loss. I saw a lot of depression, even for myself."
B. Renewed educates its clients and other salon professionals in hair restoration. They provide innovative styling options, hair health regimens, and holistic wellness to support the emotional wellness of women experiencing hair loss.
What fears did you have along the journey?
Assunta is a trained stylist, and her domain is to create innovative styles and teach women how to style their hair through her viral YouTube videos. She feared learning about the science of hair loss and treatment options for women. People often came to her expecting their hair to grow back immediately. Assunta feared failure and the possibility of not yielding results for her clients.
In the process, she became more than a stylist, a hair loss expert. She dug into her clients' lives to provide a holistic approach that supported hair loss's negative impact on their mental health.
What's the biggest risk you've taken?
When Assunta transitioned from Georgia to New York, she had challenges penetrating that market. Most people didn't know what a Trichologist was, and she had to adjust the prices of her products and services. She experienced many financial barriers, and even when she opened her salon after three years, she had to close it down.
The other major setback was getting people to understand the treatment process. She said, "People were like, okay, yeah, I'm losing my hair, but girl, make me look good like that's what I want. I want to look good. But convincing people, I'm going to make you look good in the end, but let's treat it."
In her transition into more hair loss education, Assunta admitted to losing her client base while also gaining some new ones. But that slow period was where she experienced many financial hardships.
What are you most proud of when it comes to B. Renewed?
Assunta has much to be proud of. She said, "Being a solutionist and being able to touch women worldwide and pioneering something new and being an inspiration to other women all over the world and kind of giving them that marker that they too can do it.
I think that's the biggest reward in this business. Connecting with other people and when something is just a concept, and you see someone else doing it, it's like, okay, that can truly become a reality. So I think the biggest reward is showing other Black entrepreneurs, other Black women, that it's possible to do the things you dream of."
Not only does Assunta assist women in the realm of hair loss, but she also has a trademark and patented product called the Instabun. She loves showing her children that they, too, can break through barriers to achieve their wildest dreams.
So tell us about any major setbacks and how you recovered.
The setback for B. Renewed was client retention. The more the business developed, the more clients she lost because she niched down. She said, "I lost a lot of people, and then I gained people. But in that losing period, you know, it does set you back, and then you start to question like, should I really be doing this?" Assunta stood her ground and the value she offered and hung into the slow periods of her business.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
This was Assunta's second pitch competition. Although it didn't require a pitch deck, she won that one. Creating a deck for the BGV pitch was new for her. Being amongst women from the BGV pitch competition inspired her because where they were was where she aimed to be.
She said, "I was nervous. The feedback was really good from the other women on our calls—they gave it to us raw, no chaser, and I like it like that. It was intense. I feel like it came really fast, and I had to kind of prepare for everything quickly. And I actually enjoyed it because I learned a lot, so I can carry that with me if I need to pitch again."
Her advice to those looking to pitch in is, "Pitching is going to expose how much you know about your business and how much research you have actually done in your business. You don't want to be a person that just has a concept and wants to make money. You want to know what's going to be profitable for your business.
You want to know your market. You want to have a strategy. And so, coming into a pitch competition, you should already know those things and be familiar with those things so that you can convey that. Most times, you're pitching to an investor, and if people want to invest in your company, they have to know that you know your company and can trust you.
Know where you're going, your future goals, and who you're marketing to. Um, And know what you want to do with the funds. If it's for resources, have a plan of action. Be creative, listen to the feedback and take it in and become better. Definitely be prepared to research and know what will differentiate you from others in the competition."
Assunta used her pitch funds for manufacturing the Instabun. They missed wholesale opportunities because they didn't have the financial backing to keep up with the demand and zero manpower to help create and deliver the product. She was able to hire a few interns and open up shop again.
What's the most critical lesson that you've learned about business?
Assunta expanded her business from being a stylist to creating the Instabun to niching down and becoming a trichologist to work with the physical and mental health of women experiencing hair loss. She's learned quite a few lessons along the way.
She said, "You have to find a passion, and you should be a part of a solution because when the money is not coming in, you still have the drive to push your business. And so your barometer should be, no matter what, I would do this, whether I was making money or not.
And then two again, knowing the business side of your business. I think a lot of, again, this is just me talking to a lot of business owners, you know, just like, yeah, I want to do this. I want to do that. And I'm like, okay. So, what's your market? Who are you?
So it's really knowing what those things are because that puts staples in your business. That's what makes your business still be a business ten years from now, you know, it's not your talent, it's not your concept, it's organizing, it's research, it's making sure things are in the background, you know, financial stability. Always be open to learning.
Always remain a student because you can get to a point where you feel unteachable. And I think my success has come from my constant ability to learn. I'm always open to wisdom. Even during the pitch competition, I knew it was a competition, but I was taking notes."
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Assunta shared her experience with us by saying, "I went the crowdfunding route because I was denied countless times at the bank. A lot of the organizations here in Rochester, one which I worked with was Venture Jobs. Their organization caters to the minority.
So, even just information, when you try to access information, they assume that you're not taking it seriously, as if you don't need it like anybody else. And so, I definitely struggle with getting access to money. And access to capital. And even just the information to know what's out there was closed off to me, which is so discouraging.
When I did a Kiva campaign to open my first salon space, and then Venture Jobs backed that as well, they were so amazing. Not even just giving me financial resources, information on how to obtain your LLC, what does that mean?
It means a lot when you can fund a Black entrepreneur, but a lot of times, we need those resources and that information too, to know it's not just about financial, but like, give us the information and the resources that we need.
So, I thank God for those two organizations because it was hard to go into these financial institutions and they look at you like, oh, okay, I hear your concept. And they kind of already set you up to fail. It's like a finish line all the time for them like you're already going to fail.
You're not going to be taken seriously. So I did run into those things a lot. It's a blow to what you're trying to do. But I kept it pushing, and the crowd funding taught me a lot because I had to get people involved with that, which was uncomfortable at first. But you learn your community stands behind you. And so if you can get your community's back, you. You're good."
What is an important skill or asset you need to succeed in business?
Assunta believes every entrepreneur needs to be dedicated, especially during the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. She said, "Most successful businesses are solving a problem, and character is something you can't teach. Be teachable and can move with the times and the demand. Be okay with slow growth and also being able to know it all can't come all at one time. To be a business owner, you have to have good mental stability."
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs?
Assunta said, "We are coming out of the gate as the most innovative, just the way we do things, the way we pitch, it's innovation at its best, it's Black excellence at its best, and we are leading and not afraid. We were hidden. Now we're standing tall and not being afraid of what we have to say and being superior in those places talked about in history books. We're leading generations of other entrepreneurs. They'll be fully equipped because we've already paved the way for becoming millionaires and it being normal. We now have access to things we've never had, such as acquisitions and owning things. We couldn't see us winning at one point, but now we can."
How do you measure success?
Assunta also looked at success as a monetary achievement, yet once she achieved that, it changed. Now, she measures success by doing the things that scare her and then witnessing the results of her taking that action. She was afraid of pitching in pitch competitions, and now that she's done it, she has renewed confidence in herself.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Assunta loves the creative part of her business. She enjoys imagining new concepts and new styles and loves the challenge of innovation. She loves when a client comes with a challenging situation that she can help solve. Assunta loves creating custom orders and thinking outside of the box.
If you and I were meeting three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
B. Renewed hopes to own a manufacturing warehouse. Assunta has ideas and concepts to help other entrepreneurs concept their products and help them with solutions. She would love to be involved with research, sitting on boards and contributing to Trichology and hair loss, medicine, and mental health research. In the future, she hopes to have a school to teach cosmetology and how to run a successful business.
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
Assunta is getting better at taking care of herself. During her first pitch competition, her grandmother passed away, and she didn't take the time to grieve. She is becoming more intentional about resting and being present with her children. She creates more days where she isn't working.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"Live life on purpose with purpose."
What is a book and podcast that you would recommend?
Book: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ by Peter Scazzero
Podcast: Black Women In Tech, Live Streaming eCommerce, Cleaning Up The Mental Mess
What's your favorite business hack or app you can't live without?
Canva and iMovie.
Name one food item you have a hard time saying no to.
What's next for B. Renewed?
Assunta is working on three things:
Manufacturing the Instabun.
Creating a product line to complement the Instabun.
Developing an operating system for salons interested in Trichology.
Any last words…
Assunta said, "I really just want to thank you guys for having the honor to pitch. Also, thank you for the resources that you guys provide. Not even just a pitch competition, but the Wednesday co-working is a resource itself.
I'm so happy that I was able to be a part of that and then also have that long-lasting relationship with you guys because it definitely helps to be able to, you know, bounce ideas and talk and have that mentorship for my business. It's been amazing. I've been able to connect with the other women in the competition as well, and being able to follow them and learn more about their business has been amazing as well. So thank you for the opportunity."