Canvas Rebel Interviews our CEO – Meet Karen Mitchell

Meet Karen Mitchell

We recently connected with Karen Mitchell and have shared our conversation below.

Hi Karen, thanks for joining us today. What do you think it takes to be successful?

For me Success was not an easy dream as I started from very humble beginnings. Yes, I had the basic ingredients of hard work, dedication and resilience but my hunger to not see failure as option gave me discipline I did not know I had. A strong work ethic sounds cliche, but it is so important. One has to set clear goals and have the willingness to go above and beyond. This works if you work for yourself or for someone else. You basically get out of it, what you put into it. Discipline often comes with some type of sacrifice. Sometimes it’s time with friends, sometimes it’s certain lifestyle luxuries but often times you have to give something up to achieve a certain level of success.

As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?

My name is Karen Mitchell. I am the founder and CEO of True Hair Company/True Indian Hair, which is an award-winning hair extension and wig company based out of NYC known for providing high quality and ethically sourced human hair extensions from India. We have been in business for 18 years and currently have 3 locations in NYC as well as an online boutique that serves our clients worldwide. I started in the hair extension business as a side hustle while working in fashion almost 20 years ago, selling from my car doing home and salon deliveries. That hustle turned to a business when I realize there weren’t any black owned hair extension companies in New York selling authentic quality human hair. I was the only one selling raw Indian hair. I saw the opportunity to provide quality hair extensions within my community by opening the first True Indian hair store in Brooklyn in 2007. The True Indian Hair brand grew in a grassroots kind of way by word of mouth and quickly spread to some of the top celebrity hair stylists in the beaty industry who started using my products for their celebrity clients such as Rihanna and Mary J. Blige. Their trust in our products has propelled TIH to the forefront as a celebrity hair extension company. Over the years we have grown to 3 stores and have a cult following of TrueBeauties who love and trust our products.

A strong quality control has been our golden stamp. Our products go through several stages of QC from the factory level in India to our receiving department here in NY. We love our celebrity stylists and clients who highlights our business on their massive platforms, but nothing makes us happier than our everyday customers, some who are not on social media, who are like family. When a customer say they have been buying Trueindianhair since our first brick and mortar  store on Flabush ave in Brooklyn, or that our products has helped their confidence level , that is our proudest moment. To know we are bringing joy, comfort and fabulous hair to these women. Earning their trust by providing the best quality product is the highest honor. We are also super proud of our charity initiative to provide wigs for women suffering from cancer who cannot afford wigs under our True Strength initiative.

We have never strayed away from our core mission; To provide quality extensions because when you look good, you feel good.

Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?

My business sales were 70-75% in-store sales before covid pandemic. In 2020 during the pandemic when the country was closed down, I did not have time to panic. I had to think of what’s the next move to survive this.  All three stores were closed. I had laid off some employees and was paying some a fraction of their pay in order help them and also build trust that they would be available to return to work when the time came. My business and personal savings were dwindling. My early hustle mentality when I was selling out of the trunk of my car was immediately reignited. I turned my home into my store/shipping department. I was blessed to have hair stock in all my stores and blessed that all my stores were in driving distance so I amped up my social media and email marketing, letting customers know we had hairs available for delivery! Many hair stores did not have stock as India and China ports were closed down so having stock in my stores was such a blessing. I would travel to one of my three stores weekly to pull stock to fulfill online orders. By the end of the lockdown, my stores were almost empty from shipping from home, but those sales kept my business afloat for those 4 months. During covid my online business grew by an additional 20% and today accounts for 40 % of our sales.

Can you open up about how you funded your business?

I started my business with no business plan and very little money. This type of business as a brick and mortar requires about 100-200k. I started it with about $60,000 and lots of prayers. I was in a desperate situation. I was laid off from my 9-5 and hustling hair was my only monetary means. I felt the urge to open a store. I felt it was needed but I was lacking funds. I cashed in my small 401k plan – earned about 24000 from that after paying the penalties.
I had about $20, 000 saved and I borrowed about 16000 from my siblings. I had just enough to cover the rent and security and an initial order of about $40,000 in hair products to semi stock the store, leaving me with about $5000 in operating reserve.

I was able to slowly flip the $40,000 in products over and over to eventually have enough funding to stock the store.

It was a huge gamble that paid off.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Instagram: @trueindianhair
  • Facebook: @trueindianhairco
  • Linkedin: karen mitchell
  • Twitter: @trueindianhair
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