Victoria, you’re the MD behind Additional Lengths, tell us about yourself.
I am very passionate about all things hair and extensions and have been involved in the industry for the past twenty-five years. I started out at a very young age, and after eleven years of applying hair extensions; I took the leap into the supply side of things. Six months of planning and research followed and then I opened for business as Additional lengths on the 2nd June 2003. My background ensures that I have a good understanding and knowledge base of the products that the business manufactures and sells, and I feel this is why the transition to MD has felt so natural.
The hair and beauty industry is ever evolving, how did you come up with the idea for Additional Lengths?
I’ve always been a go-getter and knew there was something else for me other than standing and applying hair extensions all day - although I did love that. It was a case of what could I do next, and supplying the hair was in my view, the next logical step. Luckily for me, I transitioned at the right time. More and more people were looking to retail hair extensions as they were becoming extremely popular and there was a definite demand in the market. So I think that Additional Lengths began at the right time and this enabled us to have a head start before competitors followed.
Tell us about your journey to launch?
Back then; we didn’t have the search facilities and wonders of the Internet as we have today, so research was limited and direct. From announcing to my plans to family and friends, I swiftly got to work; I’m not one to delay. Luckily, I had a home computer although they were not as commonplace. I researched international directories and found details of some factories in China and proceeded to order some samples.
I then created my own packaging design on Microsoft word (very basic but it did the job), thought up the business name and within exactly 6 months, I was up and running as Additional Lengths. My only source of advertising was to make contact with salons direct using details that I obtained from the yellow pages.
Was it difficult to fund Additional Lengths?
Yes! Luckily, many years ago the raw hair materials weren’t as expensive as they are today due to there being less demand. Hence, the prices were reasonable for high quality products. I used my personal savings in addition to a loan from the Princes Trust for £1500.
You have a huge catalogue of great products, how difficult was it to source your products?
Sourcing the products isn’t the difficult part; it’s manufacturing them on a large scale. Especially if it’s a new product that you are bringing to the market place.
What is your process when it comes to product development? How do you stay on trend?
We are always looking to develop completely new and innovative products as well as working to adapt and improve our current product lines. Its vital to move with the times and keep our customers intrigued as to what the brand can offer in terms of something new.
We work closely with our factories to discuss new product developments and we always have products in R&D. Most of our products can be used for any ‘up do’ and with the creativity of some stylists being truly phenomenal, we must always adapt to current hair trends and needs in order to retain our loyal customer base.
Every woman loves changing her look from time to time, do you ever use your own products to do this?
Of course, I wear all of my own products. Luckily for me, when we get something new to try, I’m always first in line to test. If it isn’t good enough for me then it’s not going to be good enough for our customers. Depending on how I want to wear my hair I can use a range of different products. Normally I wear it long and wavy with layers, but when I remove my extensions to colour my roots, I opt for an up do and use our clipped wire twirls. The options are endless. Extensions are also great for adding colour without the risk of colouring your own hair.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I never get bored of what we do and offer. Each time we receive a delivery I’m like a kid at Christmas. I love having full shelves and I eagerly await the feedback we get from our clientele about our high end products.
These are used worldwide and the quality is second to none. My inspiration comes from this success of the brand and the products that I have nurtured and grown. But with the help of my fabulous team of staff, who also love this type of feedback and the thrill of the entire process from idea to end product. It gives me a purpose to continue doing what I do. I am inspired by new developments and by looking at others work with any hairstyle. I wonder how would I change that? What colour would I apply? Could we create something that works better?
How do you enjoy the success of Additional Lengths?
I love the success of brand. Even after all these years, old customers remind me that I was doing their hair twenty years ago in my spare room (that’s where it all started). It’s nice to reflect on this journey and appreciate how far I’ve come. It’s definitely been hard work and often it’s a challenge to switch off. I’m definitely guilty of driving myself crazy at times, often waking up and thinking about work and responsibilities.
However, the success of the company has helped me to travel the world and see places and events that I would not otherwise been afforded the opportunity to see. The success is ever growing which also makes me proud and keeps me motivated to do what I do everyday. I have 2 children and never used to take the time off work but in the last few years, I have ensured that I spend as much time with them as possible and that we enjoy at two family breaks a year.
Hair and beauty usually go hand in hand; do you have any plans to diversify your brand?
Our leading brand Remi Cachet is already renowned within the industry for the diverse range of products and qualities it offers for professionals. It has gained worldwide respect for quality and this is boosted by the second to none customer service offering at Additional Lengths. We are currently creating something new that we will be bringing to market soon. We are also the only hair brand in the UK to supply a patent protected product, which has been so successful in its self. Our marketing team cant keep up with what we are doing next.
Where do you see Additional Lengths in the next couple of years?
We have just signed an international deal to work in co-operation with the patent owner plus, we are exhibiting and show casing our products in Dubai and Orlando. So for us, its world domination! We already supply to these countries but our plans for development in these areas are massive and we will be filling some gaps in the current market place. Watch this space.