By Coshandra Dillard
Tyler native Stephanie Idio saw the opportunity to make a mark in the hair industry, which is most utilized by African American consumers. However, black people don’t have a lot of stake in it.
So the 29-year-old created her company, Hair by Akoni, about two years ago and moved to Guangzhou, China. Hair by Akoni is a hair sourcing company providing “straight from the source” hair extensions and hair accessories of various hair textures for all ethnicities. Idio also assists with hair packaging and hair accessories for people wanting to start and grow a hair line and business.
An Essence Smart Beauty research study found that Black women purchase more than $7.5 billion in hair care products annually. It’s part of the potential $500 billion industry, which includes the purchases of wigs, weaves, and styling tools, according to market research firm, Mintel.
A consumer first, Idio knows how important the hair industry is to black women.
“I want to see more of us at the head of the table instead of the foot,” she says. “It’s important to have ownership in something you’re involved in.”
Before her dive into the hair industry, Idio obtained a law degree and had been working in the field. She admits legal work isn’t glamorous and can be filled with 12-hour days, but she still has a passion for law. She continues with a focus on fashion law in a blog as well as providing pro bono work in China. Her legal expertise also comes in handy for her newfound work in the hair industry. Her move to China was a calculated business decision.
“It’s one of the best places you can do business and learn about business,” Idio says. There, she has access to manufacturers and can see up close the quality of products and how they are being made.
Follow the young entrepreneur on Twitter @FashnLegallaire.