For New York native Julian Addo, founder of adwoa Beauty, the idea of being your own boss wasn’t just a saying, it was a mindset. At the age of 14, Addo got her first introduction into the beauty industry as a hairstylist at Karma’s Unisex Palace. Doing hair came natural to her, and she even did all of her friends' hair in the neighborhood.
After high school, she moved to Minnesota to be with family and continued styling hair from her mother's basement before getting her own salon. After three successful years as a shop owner, the beauty brand owner decided it was time for a change, and transitioned into the banking world. This career change allowed her to gain more insight into the inner workings of entrepreneurship and the not-so-pretty side of business.
While visiting her family in New York a few years later, Addo attended a natural hair event and was inspired to find her way back into the beauty space. While still working a full-time job as an assistant vice president in mortgage compliance, she acquired Sally’s Beauty as a client and found the spark she was looking for—which pushed her to launch her first endeavor, Bella Kinks.
From Bella Kinks, adwoa Beauty was born. EBONY sat down with Julian Addo to learn more about the birth of the brand and its overall mission.
EBONY: What sparked your love for all things hair?
Julian Addo. I grew up in New York City and hair is a big fashion statement. It was all around me, I couldn't escape it. To me, hair pulls a look together regardless of how you're dressed. If you're wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and you have great hair, it instantly makes the outfit look better. I don't get why hair isn't a part of the bigger beauty conversation. It's getting there but very slowly.
How does your background in banking and your degree in business help you with your brand today?
Working in Corporate America helped me to have great organizational, communication and leadership skills. It has also helped me to think about my brand in a big way by incorporating operational procedures such as employee handbooks and codes of ethics for all vendors from the very beginning—even when we had 10 customers. The experience provided me with the structure I needed and the ability to lead a team.
With new beauty brands popping up daily, how do you ensure adwoa stands out?
By continuing to be true to myself and my voice, by using my gut and life experiences to guide me. The key is to remain authentic to my brand's DNA, keeping my eyes on my north star. New brands pop up but there are also brands going out of business every day. Authenticity and good storytelling matters!
What are some of your favorite products right now, and how do you use them?
I love the Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid exfoliant, I use it every night. I also love our baomint protect + shine oil blend so much, I use it everyday on my hair and scalp. It really does make a difference for me in how my hair shines and moves; it also keeps it tangle free.
Where do you see your brand in five years?
I see us as a global beauty brand bringing textured hair care to people all over the world in, especially in Europe, Africa and Asia.