The founder of Bellami Hair, a hair extension business boasting approval from celebrities like Kylie Jenner, has revealed how she made her business successful after quitting her job in law.
Nikki Eslami, 31, moved to Australia when she was just 17 years old to study law after growing up in Vancouver, Canada. Upon graduating, she moved back home with her then-boyfriend Julius Salerno to practice law.
‘Three months into it, I was like, “This is miserable, I don’t enjoy this, I’m only 23, do I really want to spend the rest of my life doing something I don’t even enjoy?”‘ Nikki told Fabulous Digital.
The beginning: Nikki Eslami, 31, launched Bellami Hair in 2012 from her mom’s home in Vancouver, Canada, after quitting her career in law
Entrepreneur: She started the company with just over $4,500 and since grown it to be a million dollar business promoted by celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Cardi B
Nod of approval: Kylie collaborated with Bellami Hair by creating her own hair extensions in 2014 for the company
Nikki decided instead to test her entrepreneurial skills by launching a hair extension company to improve the quality on the market.
‘There was no standard, no authority, no one in the market where if you thought of hair extensions you thought of a brand,’ she said.
‘I experienced that in Iran, Canada and Australia and thought, “I’ve lived all over the world, why is this the same issue?” I wanted to be the Coca Cola or Nike of hair extensions.’
At first, the woman sourced her own extensions from places in Asia, a venture that started while she was in law school. She would supply extensions to friends and family, so she decided to expand this business to others.
The company was built from scratch in 2012 while Nikki lived with her mom in Vancouver. She even brought her boyfriend Julius on board to become a co-founder.
Instagram influencers were a relatively untapped market at the time. So after trying and failing to make a lucrative business through Craigslist, Nikki decided to reach out to influencers and see if they could promote the product online.
‘The biggest girl on there at the time had 70,000 followers,’ she said. ‘I started sending mass emails to these girls like “I’d love to send you a set, I just want your feedback”. I got a 99 per cent response, which would be crazy today, and these girls started putting up videos with reviews.
‘It was organic growth from there.’
Took a risk: ‘I’m glad I stayed home when I was 24, now I’m doing everything I want to in life,’ Nikki said about leaving law to pursue her passion
Incredible: The company now boasts approval from a number of celebrities, including Cardi B and Victoria Beckham (pictured)
Smart thinking: Instagram helped grow the business after Nikki used influencers to promote it
Time to move: In 2017, Nikki bought Kylie Jenner’s ‘starter home’ in Calabasas, California, for $3.15 million
Bellami Hair then further grew after the brand partnered with Kylie Jenner in 2014 to create one of her hair extension looks.
‘It was the first time she had done on her own collaboration,’ Nikki said. ‘She had done Kendall and Kylie but it was quite momentous. She had the teal ombre hair and everyone was like “how did she get that?”
‘I think that’s the first time people realized extensions can be for fun, color, length and volume. It changed their views on them.’
The company also recently partnered with Tokyo Styles, a wig maker that’s previously worked with stars like the Kardashians. The wigs created from the collaboration caught they eye of Cardi B, who recently wore one over the summer.
Nikki and co-founder Julius, who remains a co-founder despite the couple breaking up, started the company with just over $4,500 in the bank. They have since grown the company to a lucrative business, despite friends previously telling Nikki she would not make it.
Lap of luxury: Bellami Hair used a $20 million gold-encrusted yacht this summer to sail around Europe and promote the business growing into the UK market
Soaking up the sun: Nikki spent weeks aboard the yacht as it toured around Europe, visiting places like Spain, Holland, and France
Spacious: The 180-foot yacht can accommodate 12 guests and a 12-person crew
Incredible accommodations: It features an on-board swimming pool with a Jacuzzi and glass waterfall for guests to enjoy
‘One of my best friends would say to me “you’re wasting your time, everyone thinks you couldn’t cut it at law and you’re not going to be successful,”‘ she confessed.
‘Now they’re like “holy s***, you did it”. I’m glad I stayed home when I was 24, now I’m doing everything I want to in life.’
Bellami celebrated its launch into the UK this year and decided to promote the company by traveling through Europe in a $20 million gold-encrusted yacht with employees and influencers.
The 180-foot yacht could accommodate 12 guests and a 12-person crew. It featured an on-board swimming pool with a Jacuzzi and glass waterfall for guests to enjoy. The boat also boasted its own personal spa and six different bedrooms for guests to stay in.
Added touch: The company also had gold jet skis for influencers to use
Speed machine: As well as hosting online stars aboard the yacht, Bellami also welcomed hairstylists for masterclasses
Glamorous: Guests were invited to put the yacht’s amenities to full use
Bellami then had gold jet skis made to pair with the yacht for people to ride around when the boat was docked.
Nikki now splits her time between Los Angeles, California, and Houston, Texas, when running her business. She bought Kylie Jenner’s ‘starter home’ in Calabasas, California, for $3.15 million in 2017.
But despite all the success, Nikki says she remains humble and remembers how her company first started from her mother’s home.
‘I’m never too good to get on the ground in the warehouse and roll up my sleeves,’ she said.
‘You are never too good to do anything in your business, regardless of where you are. That’s my number one thing.’