We had the good fortune of connecting with Snookie Rochelle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Snookie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
All of the people closest to me had some type of side hustle/business as their “extra baby” and it made me want to have a baby of my own. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted it to be. My friends told me to just think about what I enjoy the most or what I’m most passionate about and the first thing that popped in my head was hair. I’ve always dubbed myself as “the weave connoisseur” because I’m such a weave/wig fanatic. I would spend stupid amounts of money on bundles and wigs so it only made sense to spend that money on my own brand instead. So I did heavy research and spent hella money sampling hair from different suppliers until I found reliable suppliers with quality hair. And that was the birth of Snookie’s Hair Boutique. One of my best friends, Chassidy Nacole, owned a custom apparel company and she made all of my custom wig storage bags, bundle bags, and other swag items for my hair boutique…free of charge!! I started to run low during the start of the pandemic and reached out to her to make more for me. She told me she had to turn her workstation into a home office for her regular job so she couldn’t make them for me anymore. I started reaching out to different print companies for quotes and the quotes were more than I wanted to spend. I’d have to raise my pricing on my hair to cover the cost and that’s not something I wanted to do as I wanted to provide quality hair at an affordable price. I vented to Chassidy about the high quotes and she told me to relax and that she would just teach me how to make them so I don’t have spend unnecessary money. She tried to get me to let her teach me multiple times in the past but I guess I was being a little lazy and kept saying no. I bought all of the necessary equipment and she walked me through the process step by step. She had me practice on cheap t-shirts first to get the hang of it. After I got the hang of it, I posted a shirt that I made on my Instagram and Facebook page just because I was so proud of myself for getting it down so fast and people DM’d me asking me to duplicate the shirt, and that was the birth of Melanated Privilege, my custom apparel business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When it comes to my hair boutique, my goal was always to provide quality hair at an affordable price. I remember spending $500 or more on bundles before I started my business. That didn’t include the cost of having a wig constructed. I have a huge wig collection so you can only imagine how much I’ve spent total on hair. It was important to me not to break anyone’s bank especially now with us being in the middle of a pandemic. Last year I created a 30% off promo code which was supposed to be temporary, but I decided to leave it up just because I know everyone’s finances have shifted due to COVID. When it comes to my custom apparel business, what sets me apart would be my style. I love doing shadow/silhouette style designs and that’s what most of my customers request when they place an order. My grandfather had me make him a hoodie with a silhouette of him and me on the front, and he’s always getting stopped and asked who made it for him and how they can get in touch with me. What I’m most proud about is the simple fact that I created something. Whether they succeed or fail, I stepped outside my box, created something, put my heart into it, and showed myself that there’s more undiscovered layers to me that I have to peel back. I have a regular 9-5 that I absolutely love and where I make great money & have an amazing team that I work with. That’s always been the case for me and I’ve always been comfortable with that and where I was career wise, but being comfortable isn’t always a good thing. You can’t find your true level of greatness sitting in comfort. Starting two different businesses hasn’t been easy. The saying it takes money to make money ain’t no joke. From promo items to giveaways to equipment, to supplies, and so much more, it’s just expensive to run a business. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is I have to set boundaries for myself. I was finding myself staying up til as late as 4 AM trying to get orders out. It was wearing me out and I started to hate the business. I finally had to set boundaries for my consumers. I extended my processing & turn around times with weekends excluded, I gave myself a cutoff time to shut everything down during the week, I started charging extra for rush requests, and I learned to just say no sometimes. I recently decided to take the month of December off from the hair boutique & the custom apparel business, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was able to recharge mentally and physically and prepare myself for 2021. What I want the world to know about my brand is I’m a perfectionist when it comes to selling anything to anyone so my goal is always to provide a quality product that is satisfactory to the customer and their budget. I take pride in everything I create and/or sell.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is so hard to answer because I’m such a homebody & I’m the last person my friends would come to if they were visiting and wanted to hit the streets. I’ve only had to put gas in my car 3 times in last year. That’s how little I leave the house lol. I like having get togethers with my friends at someone’s house where we all bring food and drinks and hookah & just do things like sip and paint or have a good old fashioned sleepover. Just last week, my friend Tajai took me and our friend Donna to a movie screening. Afterwards, we went back to Donna’s house and she taught us how to play spades…no, I’ve never played spades before. Don’t judge me lol. But that night was one of the most fun and entertaining nights I’ve had in a long time. We had so much fun.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give a huge shout out to my circle of friends & my family that encouraged me, inspired me, motivated me, educated me, and supported me 100%. I first have to acknowledge my beautiful mom. She let me turn her dining room into a chaotic home office/workstation. I have different machines, printers, t-shirts, packaging, hats, hair, etc everywhere and she’s never complained about the never ending mess I keep in her dining room. My boyfriend has offered to give me $5K-$10K to go towards opening a store for both of my businesses. My friend Mercedes Maddox is the dopest hair stylist in Dallas. This beautiful soul has gifted me wig constructions free of charge just so I can use it for promotional purposes. She randomly messages me encouraging words to keep me motivated and has blessed me financially multiple times with random cash apps to go towards my businesses. The fact that she has a hair line of her own and she still supports me and encourages me the way she does just exemplifies the beauty of her spirit. My friend Chassidy Nacole helped me with all of the beginning stages like getting my LLC and sales permit, she volunteered to help test the different textures of hair for me and provide me with me honest feedback to help me choose which textures to sell, she made all of my custom items for the hair boutique FREE OF CHARGE, she buys her bundles from me, she promoted my brand every chance she got, and then taught me how to make my own custom items. My friend Donna Fields owns her own hair salon and she always plugs my hair boutique when her clients inquire about where to buy bundles. Like Chassidy, she shops with me, never asking for a discount. She keeps my business cards, my bundles, and my wig bags in her clients’ view to promote me & help me gain customers. She even took a day off from her extremely busy schedule just to teach me how to make wigs so I could start making my own or even turn it into another side hustle. My friend Tajai Jones is a makeup artist, hairstylist, and has her own makeup line. Tajai would always rock my hair or my wigs at any vendor or promotional events she went to and also uses me to make her promotional shirts & shopping bags for the events. She constantly shouts me out on social media to draw people to my page & website. She also buys hair and custom items from me and never asks for a discount. She’s even come to my rescue to help me with Melanated Privilege orders when I’ve been overwhelmed with rush order requests. There’s a million other names I could list because everyone around me has been a huge support system in some form whether it’s ordering from me, giving me words of encouragement, or simply tagging my name when someone’s looking for a hair vendor or someone to make a custom item. I’m thankful for everybody and everything.