Adrienne and Stephanie Vendetti are sisters, best friends, natural-born redheads — and as it turns out, natural born entrepreneurs.
Growing up, Adrienne and Stephanie were redheaded Goldilockses struggling to find beauty and fashion items that were “just right” for their fashion-forward, flaming-haired selves. They both had trouble finding “redhead friendly” products that wouldn’t irritate their skin or cause it to break out. They sought help at department stores’ beauty counters, but most makeup consultants shied away when asked which tinted moisturizer or blush matched their fair complexions. So the Titian sisters tried doin’ it for themselves by testing and trying different types of products and experimenting with clothes to see which colors were fun and flattering. Soon, How To Be A Redhead was born, via howtobearedhead.com.
The sisters co-founded the website to empower all their redheaded sisters with the motto, “Red hair is more than a color, it’s a lifestyle!” Adrienne and Stephanie built a community that provides trustworthy beauty and fashion advice for 50 shades of ginger, featuring products that have been tested on a redhead for a minimum of 10 days and receive the “redhead-friendly” stamp of approval.
Since How To Be A Redhead’s launch, it has been recognized by the top beauty companies in the world and in 2012, Adrienne and Stephanie were named L’Oreal Paris Brand Ambassadors. In 2015, the “sistahpreneurs” will be producing “Rock it like a Redhead” events, bringing together their loyal audience with brands that empower them to feel beautiful, inside and out.
Dixie Laite, Like a Boss Girl’s own resident redhead (inside and out), sat down with the dynamic duo to learn their secrets for success.
You have a website, “How to Be a Redhead” targeted exclusively for redheads. We love the site’s tagline, “Redhead is more than a hair color, it’s a lifestyle.” What makes redheads different, special, awesome, vivacious and funky?
First and foremost, red hair IS different! So, that in itself makes a redhead very unique. Our motto is: red hair is more than a color it’s a lifestyle. Redheads cannot deny that their red hair gives them spunk, attitude, fierceness, and definitely some sassiness. Growing up, we were bullied for our red hair and Stephanie even dyed her hair blonde for many years. When we started How to be a Redhead (and Stephanie went back to her beautiful natural roots), we promised ourselves we would make the community a powerful source, something we wish we had when we were growing up. We get emails from girls every single day telling us, “Thank you for making me feel like my hair is awesome! I wouldn’t be able to go to school without your website.”
How did you and your sister come up with the idea to start your own business?
Adrienne: Stephanie and I were born natural redheads. Growing up, we loved beauty products, but finding the right items for our hair and sensitive skin was a nightmare. It took us buying hundreds of ‘redhead friendly’ items to get it right. One day in high school, we looked at each other and said, “We know How to be a Redhead.” The name stuck. We always joked that we would come out with a book titled “How to be a Redhead,” because, then, websites weren’t as popular as they are now.
Stephanie: We wanted to create a place where redheads could go and feel beautiful, something we didn’t have when we were teenagers. It can be tough being a redhead, it’s almost like you’re a minority because you look so different. When we launchedHowtobeaRedhead.com, we wanted it to be a positive, confident environment that also gave the top beauty and fashion advice for redheads.
Walk us through, step by step, how you built your company.
Adrienne: Oh wow. This is such a great question! Stephanie and I always joke about writing a book about how we started the world’s first & only brand for redheads. We have so many hilarious stories, as well as some that showcase how dedicated we are to How to be a Redhead.
Stephanie: Dedication is our foundation. When we launched in 2011, I was still a senior at the University of Miami (Adrienne had just graduated from University of Miami in 2009). So, I was juggling school work and our new adventure. Since our launch, we have never missed one day of posting to our website or social media. We’re fully immersed in our brand, very goal oriented and most importantly, consistent. Both Adrienne and I have a list of goals up on our office wall at all time to keep us on the right path.
Adrienne: At first, we started as a small blog, then grew to a website and then a brand. Stephanie, who is head of marketing, made sure our social media was strong, and I worked on communicating with media and doing all of the business aspects of the company. We still have these roles and work on them every single day.
Stephanie: People always said to us, “How are you going to start a company for redheads? It’s such a small niche market.” Well, with 1-2% of the population natural redheads, that’s 7-14 million redheads in the world. And, that isn’t counting the ‘by choice’ redheads too.
Adrienne: We kept at it until we got a call from L’Oreal Paris in early 2012. We were their Brand Ambassadors for a hair product for 6 months. It really launched us into the redhead brand we are today.
Stephanie: Simply put, Adrienne and I are shooting for our dreams. We still have so many goals but are so excited for the future!
What are the best parts about being young entrepreneurs? What are the most challenging?
Adrienne: Honestly, the best part for me is that I teamed up with Stephanie and we launched something that had always been on our minds & hearts. At the time we decided to start How to be a Redhead, I was working in Boston, taking my LSATs and working at a law firm. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Quitting that job and starting a business with my sister was and is the most liberating feeling in the world.
Stephanie: I love the freedom. I had heard this quote many years ago, “People work 80 hour weeks, so they don’t have to work the 40 hour week.” It’s very true in our case. Doing what you love and having a strong passion for it is what life is all about! It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Adrienne: As far as challenges are concerned, when we moved to New York City in 2011 to build our brand, I had just met my now-husband, Josh. He was going into the Army and 9 months later we got married. I moved to North Carolina with him and many thought Stephanie and I would have trouble. But, truthfully, we and How to be a Redhead only got stronger. Thanks to modern day technology, it is like we work together every single day. And, I am very thankful North Carolina is so close to the city, because I am constantly making trips up for meetings and shoots!
What part of building your own business surprised you the most? What didn’t you expect? What have you learned, and what would you do differently if you were to start all over?
Stephanie: We are (pleasantly) surprised how fast our social media audience has grown! We have 120,000+ followers, 89,000 alone on Instagram.
Adrienne: Our website receives 79,000 unique hits and over 200,000 page views. I guess when you start at 0, you have to sit back and say, “Wow. We did this.” It’s really incredible.
Stephanie: I am not sure if we would have done anything differently. Mistakes and hurdles become part of your journey and we’re happy for everything that comes our way. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!! (laughs)
BTW, what’s it like being in business with your sister?! How are you different? Do your skills complement one another? How do you divide up the work, etc.?
Adrienne: Oh, we have so much fun! That’s not to say we don’t get in arguments because what sister duo doesn’t?! But, at the end of the day, we’re family and we love each other very much.
Stephanie: We look very similar. We are asked on a daily basis if we’re twins, but we’re very different personality wise. I am more of a people-person and Adrienne is…
Adrienne:Hey! I am a people-person too, it just takes me a little while to warm up to some people.
Stephanie: Haha, we definitely balance each other out. I am director of marketing and Adrienne is director of business & editorial director. My weaknesses are her strengths and vise versa, we are a great team.
Tell us about your “Rock It Like a Redhead” events! I hear you have a Kickstarter campaign…
We’re so excited about our Kickstarter campaign! We bring our website to life with events called Rock it like a Redhead. Its mission is to empower every redhead to feel empowered, look amazing and rock their red hair. We had our first event in New York City in 2013 and it was such a big success. A truly magical evening. Everyone kept coming up to us at the events saying, “When are you coming to our city?” We knew right away. We have to do a tour. It took us 18 months of planning and we’re finally live on Kickstarter! We want it to be more than fundraising and sponsors, we want all of our followers behind the tour.
We made it so people can pledge anywhere from $1-$2,000. 2015 is going to be an amazing year. It’s the world’s first & only redhead beauty TOUR ever. We’re about to make some history!
What would you like to tell our young redheads out there….?
Rock it like a Redhead and EMBRACE you! If you are confident about yourself, others will feel your conviction and say, “I wish I was a redhead!” Love who you are and love what you do. That is what life is all about.
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