Meet the Entrepreneur: Jade Phillips, founder of Mane Hook-Up, an online platform that connects Afro hair stylists with their clients

Mane Hook-Up was launched by Jade Phillips in 2019. Focussing on afro hair stylists, Jade provides them with a system that enables them to manage their businesses and book appointments and other essential tools that helps them to grow their businesses. We had the opportunity of chatting to Jade and learn more about her platform as well as her entrepreneurial journey.

What led you to become an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been purpose-led when it comes to my career. All of the companies that I’ve worked for have either been supporting a group of underserved people or driving an industry forward with much needed change. But, regardless of how good the products have been or how wonderful the team is, I tend to feel a bit restricted. The founders of a business set the tone for the direction and can create a working environment that truly brings out the best in people and I can only do that when I’m in the driving seat. Creating a business is about so much more than creating a product, it’s also about helping others to carve out their path and set them up for success and that’s something I look forward to doing.

Tell us more about Mane Hook-Up. What is it all about?

Mane Hook-Up was created to solve a combination of problems that I’ve experienced as a young, black woman. After transitioning back to my natural hair four years ago, I found it painfully difficult to find an afro hairdresser beyond word of mouth. There was no way for me to find, filter through and compare any stylists (and Instagram just wasn’t cutting it). I also watched many of the women in my family struggle with the same issue – especially those who had moved out of London. My grandma, for example, moved to Bath in 2010, but for years she travelled back to London to get her hair done. Spending as much money on the coach fare as she did on her hair appointment.

I couldn’t comprehend that we live in a world where we all have access to the internet 24/7, have phones (that are basically mini-computers) in the palms of our hands, and yet there was no online source where I could easily find and book appointments with hairdressers who understood how to manage afro hair. After speaking to a few hairdressers, I found that with such a hands-on job, the act of finding new clients wasn’t easy either. There are a lot of stylists that don’t know where to start when it came to marketing, and those who do often don’t have time to follow it through.

So, instead of waiting for a solution to appear, I chose to create it.

What does being a female entrepreneur mean to you?

Being an entrepreneur allows me to lean into my strengths and do what I’m good at: create things. I’d love to say that I create a lot of balance in my life but at the moment, that’s not quite the case. I work on Mane Hook-Up, I also work for a health tech start-up and I train as an athlete. By following several passions at once, I feel really fulfilled but it doesn’t always give me a lot of time to rest. One of the things I’m working on at the moment is the art of saying no and just being honest with others about what I do and don’t have the energy to take on at the moment. Making space for our wellbeing and recovery is so important. If there’s one thing that the past two years has taught me, is that health is wealth. You can only bring the best version of yourself to the table when there’s a sense of balance and boundaries.

What challenges or obstacles have you faced as a result of being an entrepreneur?

People are the heart and soul of all businesses and finding the right people to work with is always a challenge. It starts with understanding what you as a founder do and don’t have the capacity to take on. I lean into my strengths and that means focussing on marketing and product, so I work with others who can take on the other important roles that are my weaknesses. But when you’re at the beginning of your journey as a business founder, finding the right people who will carry your businesses to a successful place is tough and requires a lot of thought. As a black woman who wants to drive diversity in a field that is predominantly white and male, I also make a point of hiring diversely. From the freelancers I work with, to my Advisors and permanent team members, I look for opportunities to hire from within underserved communities and I always look for people who have a strong connection with the problem that Mane Hook-Up is trying to solve.

What has been your success story so far?

The highlight has been seeing Mane Hook-Up develop into a robust product that has so much to offer. While I understand that I have to get it into the hands of people, I also know that I’m proud of what the product looks like right now and I can see how it solves so many problems. To know that we’re helping people within the black community to either build up their businesses or find hair services that make them feel more recognised is a wonderful thing. While we have a long way to go, I’m really happy with how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.

What other business or female entrepreneur would you recommend?

Toyosi Babalola – Founder of Abule
Paris Rivera – Founder of That Good Hair
Chloe Elliott – Founder of Odyssey Box
Kay Amoah – Founder of Kiya Cosmetics
Dominique – Founder of Hair Popp
Naiga – Founder of Naiga Naturals
Paula – Co-Founder of Superfood lx

What tips or advice would you give to any female considering becoming an entrepreneur?

There are three things I think women should consider before starting a business. First, start a business when you have a very clear about a problem that you want to solve. You will always do your best work when you’re creating a solution for a problem that you’ve experienced personally or witnessed through friends, family and loved ones. Two, consider how much it will cost to run that business before you start to break even or create a profit – you always have to put something in before you can take anything out. Third and finally, test your concept in a simple and accessible way to collect as much feedback as possible before you begin to invest more of your money into it. Understanding your customer and what they need is crucial if you’re going to create a product that fundamentally works for them. So put your product in front of as many potential customers as possible to get them to feedback.

To find afro hairstylists or learn more about Mane Hook-Up head over to their website at Mane Hook-Up or their social pages at the following: