Phil Berley is the founder of E.R.E.N.A. Hair Centers. This dynamo has built his business in a world where African Americans are not accepted as professional providers, but rather as clients. We spoke in depth about how he got his start in the business, what drives him to continue to provide quality hair to his clients and salons and the future of the business. If you’re seeking quality, top grade hair for yourself or your clients, this is definitely the company that you want to seek out first and foremost.
QW: Tell me about how you got your start in the hair industry.
PB: I actually got started through a friend of mine. I was a marketing manager and I found one evening as I was going on a date that there was this extremely long wait for her to get her hair done. This motivated me to find an easier solution to how weave is added. I started by doing some in depth research and coming up with different ways that weave could be added to women’s hair a lot faster. I then found that my technique was good, but the hair wasn’t of the best quality. That made me realize that I needed to gain a sense of control of the hair from the start point. This is how I got involved in hair manufacturing. I perfected the process to where the hair that I provide is now.
QW: Minorities are the ones that often utilize hair for their beauty regimen, however, the hair industry is predominantly run by the Asian community. What obstacles have you encountered being on the business end of things?
PB: Honestly, on the business end I realize that I have more difficultly being black in this industry. I have to prove myself at least 300% more to show where my quality and customer service is. What I find is that there is often a negative connotation revolving around us owning our own businesses. If there isn’t an Asian, white or Spanish face, we’re more likely to believe in our own people. That is one of my constant obstacles.
QW: What do you want to know clients to know about your company that makes you unique?
PB: What makes us unique and stand out more is that we manufacture our own hair. We don’t buy and sell like other companies. Other companies relay on their factories in India and China. This means that they have no control over the process. We buy the raw material, since we have our own factory. If there are any issues, we can catch it immediately. We have a higher level of quality control as a result and we can customize hair to any texture and color. Our competitors purchase from a beauty supply or online, tricking the customers by telling them about virgin Remy and all the other hair that they have.
With our hair, it’s really like the closest thing to growing your own hair. We guarantee no tangling. We can give you hair that you can bleach and customize to pretty much any color that you want. Of course, the hair that you buy from other people as virgin, you’ll want to bleach to attain the color that you want. This is a way of saving money and getting their customers to spend more. Instead of making colors to match their customers, they want you to bleach it, which means that you’re then responsible for anything that may go wrong. In addition, instead of giving the full length that you need, they are giving their customers less for more money. A lot of hair gets wasted because of various lengths are included in a bundle. With our company, we provide the full length so that there is minimal wastage and you don’t have to buy as much, which saves our customers money and frustration.
QW: Where do you see your business in five years?
PB: My five year plan revolves solely around expansion. We see where Dunkin Donuts used gas stations to outsource and expand their business and are ready to mimic that kind of business model in utilizing key partnerships. Basically, when you need your hair done, you’re going to go to a beauty salon for that professional touch. Thus, we are giving salons the ability to purchase the franchise at an affordable cost to offer the hair to their customers directly. The same money that they’re spending to buy hair and not knowing what they’re getting, we’re offering the opportunity to be with a company that has been in the industry for over 19 years. We pride ourselves on top notch quality and customer service and we can guarantee and address their needs or any issues with the hair. We’re expanding E.R.E.N.A. throughout salons in the US and eventually, around the globe.
QW: Where can customers find out more about you, your salon and your hair products?
PB: They can visit us online at www.erenahaircenters.com and that is where they can read up about us in depth. We are also coming up with an express website where each salon will be able to access the website and the customers can make their own purchases directly through that site and have confidence that the hair they want is in stock. They can go online in their own time or use recommendations from the salon in making their purchase.
Qiana L. Williams