· By Carly Bitz
How Soulvation Started: Leah's Story
We all know and love Soulvation's cute and functional hair accessories, but do you know how the brand started? Soulvation began with a sewing machine, an idea to fill the gap in the hair accessory industry, and an ambitious woman who put her heart and soul into pursuing her dream.
Keep reading for an in-depth look into how our CEO and Founder Leah Kay tested her potential and turned a $300 investment into a multi-million dollar company.
Where It All Began
While in college completing her Master's in Science, Leah adopted her signature look while rushing around campus with a messy bun and dirty hair more often than not.
"I tried to find headbands that looked good and were comfortable enough to wear all day with no luck. Headbands are nothing new to the market, but there wasn’t much for options except plain workout headbands and glitzy fashion headbands," Leah discovered, "There wasn’t much of a middle ground that I could find that was meant for everyday wear".
That’s when she broke out her mom’s sewing machine, went to the local fabric store, and started sewing her own headbands by hand. It wasn’t long until friends and family started asking where her headbands were from and she saw an opportunity.
At the start of her Master's schooling (aspiring to be a professor), her program revealed to the students that they weren’t allowed to have another job due to the time demand and stipend that was given to them.
“They may have told me not to get a job, but they never told me I couldn’t open my own business.” That’s when she started sewing small batches of headbands and selling them to friends and family in her spare time.
A few years later after graduating, Leah had an intense calling to create something bigger with Soulvation: “I left my entire schooling behind me and in January 2019 I decided to turn this brand into something bigger. I had no business or marketing background, but I was relentless to learn.”
She invested her own $300 into fabric and a website and kept selling out of every headband she made. Leah took on every role in the business, from customer service to manufacturing to shipping.
By reinvesting her own profits into inventory, rebranding, hiring a team and finding quality manufacturers the brand grew exponentially. All with zero debt and zero outside investors.
Her tenacity required her to overcome her fears. She was relentless. Leah refused to listen to anyone who told her that her dreams wouldn't become her reality.
Days and nights were spent sewing and packing orders to the point where she couldn’t see the floor in her bedroom because it was covered in fabric and poly mailers.
Whatever free time she did have was spent reading books on brand building and studying bootsrapped entrepreneurs like Sara Blakely.
What Soulvation Means To Her
“The term Soulvation, to me, means bringing out your best self,” Leah says, “When I initially decided to leave my career behind me and build a brand, I was beyond nervous. I got a tattoo on my finger years ago as a reminder to keep going, no matter what obstacles got in my way.”
This symbol became our logo in 2020 and is now part of our registered trademark.
“I gave up everything in order to build this brand from scratch with my mom’s sewing machine," Leah says, "It wasn’t easy deciding to give up my career immediately after graduating, but my gut told me to give this every ounce I had in me.”
Building the brand was never about the sales, but rather shutting out the outside noise and realizing her potential.
Where We Are Today
In the spring of 2020, Leah realized that there wasn’t much changing in the hair tie industry. So many women constantly wear the same, plain, boring hair ties on their wrist and in their hair. In August of 2020, we released our best-selling Hair Tie Bracelets - they work just like a hair tie, but look like a bracelet when you’re not using them.
In the same month, we opened our first warehouse in our Denver headquarters. Our products are sold mostly online on our website, but we also sell wholesale with Free People and we are now sold in all Scheels locations.
Soulvation is a 100% female-owned and operated company. We have a hard working team of 8 that all share the same vision for growth. Our products are designed to help you look and feel more put together without spending countless hours maintaining your hair.
Whether you washed your hair today or it hasn’t seen shampoo in 6 days, Soulvation is sure to help save you time and still look put together.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, remember that your dreams are not too big. Like Leah, see what you want to become and don't allow the small opinions of others stop you. If you are feeling stuck, always remember you can pivot.