5 Minutes With. . .Tabatha Coffey

If there ever was an entrepreneur who embraced the acronym HBIC, it’s Tabatha Coffey. In each episode of Bravo’s Tabatha Takes Over, this tell-it-like-it-is expert takes business owners around the country to task and helps them turn around their fledgling companies. Before landing on the reality show, Coffey spent years as a successful salon owner in Ridgewood, NJ. She is author of It’s Not Really About the Hair: The Honest Truth About Life, Love, and the Business of Beauty, and a celebrity hairstylist. Coffey also developed a brand of hair extensions and wigs. 

Recently, we asked Coffey about passion vs practicality and branding.

Daria Meoli: Talk about your background as a business owner and entrepreneur. Why work for yourself?

Tabatha Coffey: I knew it was time to start my own business when I kept saying, “I wish this salon would do X” or “If it was my business, I would do Y.” It wasn’t my business, and if I wanted to do things my way the way I wanted them done, then it was time to do it myself. After being in the [salon] industry for more than 15 years, it was time to follow my dream and use the experiences and knowledge I had learned along the way. 

DM: On Tabatha Takes Over, you often talk about the importance of a business owner maintaining his or her passion. In your experience, is it difficult for business owners to draw a line between passion and practicality?

TC: You have to take the emotion out of it, and that is what a lot of owners have a hard time doing, especially when it comes to making difficult decisions, especially regarding employees. Passion is the fuel that drives you forward and makes you want the best for your business. Practicality is how you need to view all situations that arise in your business from financial to staff issues and find the best way to solve it and make it better. 

DM: You have become your own brand, on a big scale. Why is it important for other business owners to live and breathe their brands? 

TC: All businesses are based on a brand, whether they realize it or not. The mistake some small business owners make is thinking that a brand is just reserved for the “big guys” and that is the wrong way to think. As the owner of a business, you should know your brand and what you stand for better than anyone else, and this is important so you can share it with everyone from potential customers to employees to creat consistency and authenticity in your business. To define your brand, you need to know what you stand for, what it is you want to deliver to people, and the value that will bring to those involved.

DM: Out of all the hair care products out there that you could have put your name on, why extensions and wigs?

TC: Forty percent of women suffer from thinning hair and hair loss. As a hairdresser, I would have clients come in and want something that was not always achievable because of their thinning hair. It is an issue that isn’t discussed as much for women and I wanted to give clients the hair they always wanted, which is why my line of top head extensions was created. Having wigs and other pieces in my line is a way women can experiment with their hair and have fun without the commitment of cutting or changing their color. 

DM: You’ve worked all over the world and helped struggling salons all over the country. What are some unique challenges and benefits to owning a business in NJ?

TC: It doesn’t matter where your business is, there will always be challenges and benefits to the location. To me, the most important things are being happy where you are, filling a need in the market, and being connected to the area and knowing it well so you can service your customers and give back to the community.