Antidote Street is an exciting online shopping destination for Afro and multi-textured hair offering customers knowledge, power and choice. We catch up with the site’s dynamic and talented founder Winnie Awa to discuss her motivation for creating this disruptive and much-loved e-commerce space.
What inspired you to create Antidote Street?
I launched Antidote Street, alongside my co-founders (and then flatmates) in our Balham flat in 2014. At the time, I was transitioning from relaxed to natural hair and became quickly frustrated by how difficult it was to find product formulated with my hair texture in mind. With a handful of products and passion for changing the status quo in the underserved black hair industry, we set up Antidote Street, determined to provide easy access to the best brands, valuable hair education along with a beautiful user experience and excellent customer service.
Did you always have a clear vision of what you wanted to do
Absolutely! Antidote Street has always been about changing the status quo. The word, ‘Antidote’ literally means something that works against an unwanted condition to make it better. We visualised this digital street, buzzing and packed full of amazing hair products targeting black women but also had the personal touch and customer service of a market. You know how your butcher knows exactly what cut of beef you like?
Did you face any challenges when you began your own business? What lessons have you learned along your journey?
Securing brands in the beginning was tough! We even stalked a brand founder all the way to an event in Paris and video pitched on the spot and still did not secure that brand (haha!). They wanted to know if we had a salon which we didn’t. The fact that we weren’t the traditional bricks and mortar threw many brands because some of the product ranges were typically marketing towards salon professionals. Thankfully this has now changed and over time, we have been able to show the brands that we are not just another pure play retailer and that we care about their brands as much as they do! Tenacity is a word that comes to mind – not so much a lesson but a muscle that you learn to exercise over and over again in business.
How would you describe your typical customer?
Our customer values a seamless customer experience, education and convenience. We are pretty much obsessed with putting our customer FIRST and creating an offering that they can trust to recommend the best products for their hair & beauty goals.
What advice would you give to a budding indie black beauty business owner on how to create a thriving brand with limited resources?
My personal motto is, ‘if you don’t see the change you want in the world, take the reins and create it!’ The majority of brands on Antidotestreet.com were formulated by women who went ahead and did just that. So if you have an idea, go out there and MAKE IT HAPPEN! Be clear on what problem you are trying to solve and who your product is for. Social Media has made it incredibly easy to connect one-on-one with your potential customer and it is free!
Who would you consider your ultimate beauty entrepreneur inspiration famous or otherwise?
My Dad. Oh ok okay, he is not a beauty entrepreneur but the more I learn about him, the more I am impressed. He is bold, hardworking and built an amazing life from nothing. I once asked him what made him successful and he said he had a real interest in his work and took it seriously. I try to apply the same principle in everything I do.
What have been some of the most profound learning experiences throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be agile, take bold moves and if it is wrong, you course correct quickly.
What does the rest of 2019 have in store for you and your business?
The future is so bright and exciting! We have some mega events planned later this year and cannot wait to share. Basically….watch this space!
To find out more about Antidote Street visit the website here