Emmily Bowman and Accidental Startups, Influencers and Braids

Emmily Bowman is the owner of Braid Babes, a one-of-a-kind hair braiding service based in Buffalo. You can book a Braid Babe braider to come to your house and braid you up for an event, or hire them for a braid party. In the first official episode of “The Fling” podcast, Emmily shares her journey from a quiet nine-to-five into entrepreneurship, with plenty of inspiring nuggets along the way for other aspiring entrepreneurs. If you feel the itch to make a change in your career but are not sure of your next move, this episode is for you. We talk about exploring your interests, networking, and the steps Emmily took toward venturing out on her own. Enjoy!

Emmily and CJ Discuss Stumbling into Entrepreneurship, Becoming an Influencer, and Braids

 

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Episode Overview

  • Back in 2018, Emmily was in a groove with her day job, seemingly having “made it” early on in her career, but she had always dreamt of doing more with her life. She eventually left benefits and a high salary to take on a contractor role at a local company, giving her the flexibility to experiment with her interests, one of which became hair braiding.
  • What started as a hobby—braiding her own hair and the hair of friends—quickly became a paying gig for Emmily after she switched her Instagram handle over to Buffalo Braid Babe. Her skillset was noticed by a local boutique that later asked her to put on a “braid bar” at their new store opening. From that braid bar, Emmily lined up three appointments for the following weekend and knew her side gig had potentially to be the real deal.
  • From there, Emmily attributes much of her success to Instagram. In the episode, Emmily and I discuss how tools like this lower barriers to entry and create opportunities for business owners everywhere.
  • With 12 braiders across two markets (Buffalo and Rochester), plus a client services person and the occasional intern, Emmily has been able to step away from braiding and gain a better handle on running the business. This bird’s-eye view of the business has its challenges, namely losing her pulse on what happens at meetings—helpful information as she strives for constant improvement. It’s a catch 22.
  • Instead of being bummed out by the thousands of dollars in refunds she had to dispense when the COVID-19 quarantine surprised us all, Emmily was grateful for the opportunity to work on a few backburner projects that eventually would accelerate business growth upon reopening. She kicked off the I’m a Braid Babe Facebook group—a booking machine for her today—and a virtual boot camp to train her new braiders and prep them for reopening.
  • At the tail end of this episode, we talk about how to be real with your business community on social media and elsewhere. Authenticity is extremely essential for connecting with busy audiences in 2020, and yet it can be difficult to do!

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