We had the good fortune of connecting with Annmarie Clinton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annmarie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
There were different stages in my thought process behind starting my own business which led me to where I am today; so it’s hard to tell one without telling the other. My first stage was at the age of 24, while working in accounting and customer service at an airline in Jamaica – Air Jamaica. At this stage, I was inspired by a fellow co-worker to move in a direction of preparation when she asked me the question, “What are you doing here?” “What do you mean? I work here!” was my response. Then she laughingly explained herself, “I mean, you are so gifted with your hands in doing hair, and so creative in helping the ladies to do their make-up. Have you ever thought of starting a career in hair and skincare?” At that moment, a seed was planted. I knew I had the passion, especially in doing hairstyles and haircare, but I didn’t see the purpose in venturing in that field which was merely a hobby…… well, not until my then-co-worker planted that seed in me. It was just months after that I decided to quit the corporate field and move in the direction of working on starting my own business. In that moment I thought, “What better area to work on my own business than around my passion and natural gift!” My passion has been to fix people’s messy hair with beautiful braided or twisted styles, and also to make it look and feel healthy. That thought stimulated other thoughts like, “If I’m going to be the best at this, I have to get professional training,” and so I started the journey of preparation. The second stage of my thought process came after 10 years of professionally working in the hair business. Leading up to this time, I had undergo professional licensing and training for hair and worked in some top natural hair salon where I started from being a shampoo assistance, work as natural hairstylists/braider, got involved in teaching and training on hair styling & braiding techniques to salon management. Then finally, I got the courage to launch out on my own and started booth renting to do my own little business which I did for 4 years. During that four years, I was highly sought after not just by clients who wanted to get their hair styled with my unique techniques and professional service that they claimed was rare in black salons they’ve been to, but also by aspiring stylists, and stylists who wanted to learn my techniques. Again my thoughts were stimulated by a new vision of expansion and duplicating myself. I thought, “If I could open a hair salon, train stylists my techniques and how I operate with my clients and then offer them a job, I could duplicate myself, my clients will be comfortable with my proteges, and I could make a brand out of this while attracting more clients.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Kinks Couture is a top fast growing natural hair salon in South Florida, that caters to the entire family with natural, kinky, coily hair, mixed curly textures and locs. (in 2017, Essence Magazine listed us as Florida’s “hotspot” for natural hair styles). We go by the Moto – A Natural Hair Experience – because we aim to provide the best natural hair experience to our valued clients. The services we provide include a variety of trendy natural hair styles (protective styles), braids and twists with extensions (transitional styles), custom curls and curl definitions, everything locs and more. We are especially excited about our Kid Zone for little girls and boys where our younger generation have their own kid’s friendly department to not just enjoy getting their hair done, but also enjoy themselves while meeting new friends in the play room. Kinks Couture especially specialize in natural haircare. That’s our priority. We believe that healthy hair and scalp produce the best hairstyles. We carry our own organic line – Growth Organics,(exclusively available at both our salons) which is a mix of organic and essential oils, and raw extracts of fruits, vegetables and herbs from plants and the ocean. We also do the Dead Sea Mud Mask. All our treatments come with a hair steaming therapy which boost growth while maintaining a healthy balance between hair and scalp. I believe there is so much that set us apart from other salons, a few being: 1. Our kids department, which is about to stand on it’s own two feet in the next year as we branch out with a salon just for kids (Kinks Couture Kids) and is due to the high demand from working mothers, single parents who especially need help in styling their children’s hair with patience, love and good haircare, which we provide. 2. Our exclusive organic remedy has been working and in high demands. People love the haircare that we offer. Not that other salons don’t also offer haircare, but what we do is unique and shows much thought and care, according to our clients. What I’m also most excited about in my company is the opportunities it affords me, to not just passionately provide the needed services we offer in hair care and hair styling, but to also build other streams of income. For example, I get to see needs and create solutions for those needs. One of my long time observation is the lack of hair care products for black swimmers which led me to finally start the process of developing my own swim care for black swimmers’ line – Aquafro. It’s never easy to go to the top. For me, getting to the top of anything entails, but is not limited to, climbing; and it requires strength, determination, patience, strategy, consistency, endurance, a support system, faith in God and belief in yourself. I had all of that and more to get where I am today. But it simply started out with my passion to do hair and led to a desire and a dream to multiply myself (by training and providing job opportunities for young women) using likeminded people who are as humble and willing to be apart of something different and bigger. Challenges. I don’t know anyone that likes this word, but yes, I’ve had them – some small some great. I can say though that my small challenges prepared me for the great ones and the great ones propelled me to achieving more growth in my business, personally and as an entrepreneur. One of my greatest challenge was believing in myself. I had a big vision but I didn’t believe I could pull it off myself. This brought me down a road of almost selling my birthright, but within the pipeline of this challenge, there were lessons I’ve learned and decisions I’ve had to quickly make that pushed me on a path to truly walk in purpose. Some of my lessons learned were: the path of my vision and purpose will sometimes require me walking alone 2. I’ve learned to believe in myself. 3. I’ve especially learned the importance of serving others. I’ve always looked for ways in how I can serve both my clients and my staff. If both are happy then you will have a booming business. 4. I’ve learned that failure is not final, it’s just a hiccup and the best part of my building materials, as it made me a better person. 5. I’ve also learned that even though I can do it on my own, I still need a support system, if it’s even for encouragement. What do I want the world to know about me, my brand and my story? First, I love God, I love serving people and I believe that I am truly walking in my god-given purpose. I am Jamaican native, number 3 of 7 children from the same parents. We grew up struggling and was labeled by negative statistics. But, in spite of all that, as a child I had God and a dream to be more and do more. I never gave up on my dreams. I looked for all the opportunities that could take me there, I prayed and took advantage of them. I stood strong when I had to be strong, even in the face of fear. Today, I can look back and say, “mission accomplished.” There is more knowledge to gain, more growth to come, more people to help, more salons to open. But with God’s help, I will get to my ultimate. There are so many people who have impacted my life in steering me in the right direction, but my two most favorite are my brother, Trevor, who taught me how to braid, and my adopted mother Dawn Walker who once told me, “You seem to always excel in doing hair, you should focus on what you’re good at, and don’t just work the chair, but strive to have your own salon. Don’t just use others products, but work on making your own.” She also said, “if hair is what you’re going to do, be the best and get to the top.” I listened. If you’re a man, woman or child, and your mixed with curly hair, or you’re black decent with kinky, coily hair; if you have locs and you’re looking for the best natural hair experience with good and trendy hairstyling and great haircare, Kinks Couture is for you. We are one salon but we currently have two locations: Miami and Pembroke Pines. Soon, we will be popping up at different locations to fulfill the needs of our natural hair community.
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.
Wow, that’s a great question! I’ve lived in Florida for the past 20 years, and I can honestly say that I am not very outgoing and wouldn’t be the best person to ask for ideas on the best spots to attend. However, let me try. lol.. I might recommend going to the beach if it’s a summer trip – there are various between Fort Lauderdale and Miami that can be explored; also check out the night-life zones on South Beach or Las Olas. Also, if you still have that kid in you, I would include Disney or Universal Studio. Hard Rock Cafe usually also have great events like concerts and shows and a dazzling area where you can have drinks and fun with friends. I would say to try there too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The first of any mentor or support in my life was my brother, Trevor. He was only 13 months older than me. I called him my “destiny helper.” He was the one who taught me to do my first plait. I was only 6 yrs old. I remember being frustrated and angry because I wasn’t able to braid my dolls hair. I had so many visions of designs in my head, which I would draw in a circle on a paper but couldn’t replicate it in my dolls hair. Then one day he saw me crying after slamming my doll on the floor, and decided to show me how to plait using some threaded ropes. I’ve been plaiting and braiding ever since he taught me and told me, “If you can braid these ropes, you can braid your doll’s hair.” He was right, for not only was I able to do my doll’s hair at that age, I graduated to doing my little sister’s hair and some other kids in my community who would show up at my doorsteps every Sunday with their combs and Dax Hair Oil. I had the passion in me, but he showed me the way, and to this day, my gift has made room for me. Aside from my brother (may his soul rest in peace), I’ve met some other wonderful destiny helpers along the way, like my ex-coworker who brought me enlightenment of the purpose around my passion of doing hair. She showed me that there was an place for me in the world and that I shouldn’t settle, but to work on cultivating my passion and make it a contribution to that part of the world. Then there was my adopted mother, Dawn Walker. For some time I thought I had disappointed her in my choice or career path. I’ve always wanted to be like her, becoming that academic genius in climbing the corporate ladder and being at the top of the organizational chart. But she pulled me up one day and told me how proud she was of me and that she noticed that being in the field I chose, I was always at my best. She encouraged me to stick to it, and not just settle in working the chair, but to thrive to be at the top. She said, “If you choose to do hair, don’t just work in a salon, have your own. Don’t just use other people’s products, make your own. Thrive to always be at the top in the path you choose.” I also want to thank Simone Hylton from Natural Trend Setter. I remember working under her. I learned so much, and she allowed me the room to sprout and grow. It wasn’t just the “encouraging” and “mentoring” destiny helpers that got me where I am today. I also owe my success to those who expected me to fail. Those who blatantly and boldly told me that I couldn’t, why I couldn’t and tried to sabotage my journey. What was meant for harm, whether knowingly or unknowingly, helped to propel me forward. What some would have taken to discourage them, I used as ingredients for motivation, not to prove them that I can, but to myself that I can and I will.