Hype Hair: What got you wanting to start this social media movement? You don’t see a lot of stylists using social media like you do.
Ming Lee: I wasn’t at home coming up with these marketing campaigns, even though marketing is my first love. I would just put something out and gauge the reaction. Once something got a good reaction, I just pounded it. It’s kind of like guerrilla marketing. When you find an audience interested in one thing, you drill it into their head. They have to say “Let me see what this #SnobLife is about.” If I can get you to go see what it’s about, I know I can get you as a customer or a client.
HH: When did you realize you were reaching the next level of your career?
My ah-ha moment was two years ago when I went to Bronner Brothers hair show. I was in the elevator and this girl stepped in the elevator and started screaming. Now I’m getting scared wondering if they were shooting outside, but she was screaming because she finally met me. She started crying, asked me to take a picture with her. When I got out of the elevator, I had people following me to my booth and crying.
Another one of my ah-ha moments was when I drained the account I was using to buy a house. When it was time to sign my five-year salon lease, I had to give them $30,000 to start building and that money only got me an eggshell, not any supplies. I had no clue how I was actually going to fund this. So I had a hair sale not too long after that made $180,000 in one day. That’s when I realized my brand was going to the next level. I did that sale in less than 12 hours with little to no marketing. I just put up the flyer on Instagram and went to bed.
HH: Wow. Well, what made you want to start selling hair in the first place?
I was just tired of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I wasn’t making any money. I used to waitress 7 days a week while working 5 days at the salon. I worked at the salon from 9-5, I’d get dressed in the bathroom and had to be at Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro at 6 p.m. to work there until midnight. By the end of the month, I didn’t have that many clients then I had to give 40% of my money to the salon owner. I came a long way.
HH: It is amazing to see that growth. It’s great to have your own and a lot of women won’t step out there and do that. It’s inspiring to see you do that.
When I started SnobLife, it wasn’t a company. It was a hustle. I just wanted to make a couple of extra hundred dollars a week so I could stop stressing myself out when bills were due. I wanted to stop paying my electric bill every other month. I wanted to be able to buy cute clothes or save up to go to Miami if I wanted to. I eventually turned it into a company, which is the hardest thing to do. Taking something that’s ran like a hustle and turning it into a company with structure was my biggest challenge.
HH: Once you made your first million off a brand that you built, how was that experience?
I didn’t even know I had made a million dollars until I got my income taxes back. I wasn’t really keeping track. I did it so fast. I have been in business for 4 years and made my first million the 2nd year. And two years before that year, I could barely pay my rent! I was going halfsies with friends with food, ordering appetizers, taking food from home [to work]. You go from that to going in the store and saying, “Let me get that.” I remember my first big purchase was in the Versace store at Phipps [Plaza]. I spent about $8,000 in there.
Do you still do hair?
I haven’t done hair in 18 months.