Running your own business is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a small business owner and founder is like? We’re here to give you a glimpse!
Today we’re sitting down with Emily Kenison, Inventor and Co-Founder of RobeCurls. Emily created RobeCurls to create the perfect heatless curls. Inspired by the TikTok trend and perfected for easier use, RobeCurls is a fashionable curling headband that you can wear to work, exercise, or sleep, and then let your hair down to reveal the curls of your dreams. Here’s what we found out about Kenison’s daily routine, followed by an exclusive Q+A.
8 A.M. I wake up excited for breakfast. While I can’t cook (like I cannot boil an egg, that’s how much I can’t cook), I have figured out how to blend up a dense and delicious acai bowl. That’s step one to my morning, followed by a 30 minute walk outside with coffee in hand and my NPR news podcast in my ears. Then I get dressed, curl my hair (a/k/a take off my Curling Headband), and get going.
9 A.M. For the first hour of the workday, I jump into my emails and any other messages we’ve received, either in our social inboxes or otherwise. I try to maintain inbox zero, so anything that is going to require a time-consuming reply is added into my to-do list. I also personally handle all of our customer support emails, and reply to them during this time. I greatly appreciate any customer who has taken a chance on us and put their hard earned dollars towards our product. So this is something I love to do — so much so that sometimes I’ll even film a video message reply. Plus, I think it is super beneficial for founders to communicate directly with their customers, especially at the early stages of the company. You learn invaluable information from them that will flow through every area of your business.
10 A.M. Every night I plan out one large task, three medium tasks, and three to five smaller tasks to be completed the next day. After reviewing communications, I’ll adjust or add to my day’s agenda accordingly. Then I jump on Zoom to touch base with the team and confirm our action items for the day.
11 A.M. After that point, my day varies widely. No two days are the same. Some days I’m heading off site to do photoshoots with our creative team, other days I’m working on production samples in our studio. Aside from our internal team meetings, I try to calendar all meetings in one day if possible. If it is a meeting day, then you can assume back-to-back calls after I wrap up communications.
1 P.M. I like to stop and have lunch with whoever I’m working with that day, usually someplace local.
2 P.M. I return to whichever project I’m working on that day. Right now I’m working with the creative team on our website, so I’m reviewing the current layout, creating and/or revising copy, and confirming the imagery in place.
3 P.M. I handle sales development and press communications. At some point during the day, I’ll address any important follow-up steps related to those projects. I work closely with our creative team to gather the assets needed and our production team on shipping samples, as requested.
4 P.M. I have a lot of tips and tricks to share on how to get the best curls of your life using our Curling Headband. So every day, I try to carve out an hour a day to create video content to share on social media. We recently put together a pretty solid videography and product photography studio, which has been really helpful for making content. I often also use this time to jump on Zoom and do personal one-on-one curling tutorials with our customers. This is one of my favorite things to do as a founder/inventor. I love getting to meet our community directly, and hear directly from them how they use our Curling Headband. (It’s also nice to hear how much they love it!)
5 P.M. I work on presentations, reply to emails, pay suppliers, and catch up on anything outstanding from the day.
6 P.M. I update the team on the status of the day’s projects. If anything took longer for me to complete than I originally anticipated, I like to make a note so I can better account for my timing in the future. I’ll also update the team on any new developments that popped up (there’s always something), and review the numbers.
7 P.M. Lastly, I’ll create my to-do list for tomorrow, including how long I think it will take to complete each task. I’ll then go into my calendar and reserve blocks of time accordingly so I know exactly when I’ll be doing what. I find having an understanding of how long I should be working on a project is helpful. For many projects, especially as a founder, you feel like you can always do better, or spend more time on something. It can be hard to know when to stop. Pre-outlining a finite amount of time in which I have to complete a task makes sure I am using my time efficiently, and allows me to stay on track with our company’s goals.
8 P.M. I order in some dinner, watch the news, and make calls to my friends and family to catch-up.
9 P.M. I like to take short 15 minute walks throughout the day as I find they clear my mind, and give me a clearer, fresh perspective on the day’s projects. At the end of the day, I like to do a longer 30 minute walk, usually with a friend in tow — and ideally a friend with a puppy.
10 P.M. Wash up, brush up, put in my Curling Headband, and get ready for bed. I’m a big believer in the idea that you can learn anything yourself and I have a large collection of books. I’ll usually spend a little time each day reading (or re-reading) a book on a topic that directly relates to a project I’m working on, like copywriting or advertising. Other times, it’ll be a book on a more general topic always in play, like management, public speaking, accounting, or productivity.
11 P.M. These days, I’ll end the night with an episode of Criminal Minds. Nothing to do with work, not super scary. Plus, I love how the star FBI team is a family, a dynamic important to our own company’s culture. Then lights out.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what their days are like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with her below!
INDIEGOGO: How and why did you become an entrepreneur? Was it something you always intended for yourself?
EMILY: I never intended on becoming an entrepreneur, nor an inventor. In fact, I worked as a lawyer before this. I had gone to law school and did not think I would change professions.
I was born and raised in New York City as a first-generation American from Turkey with a passion for helping others. At 18 years old, I started an eBay store where I resold high fashion items while majoring in economics at Columbia University. This was the start of my entrepreneurship endeavor, which helped support my way through college. During my time at New York University School of Law, I started to realize my interest in fashion was something I could continue to pursue.
Upon graduating, I started my career as a lawyer. During my first week on the job, I slipped out of my pump. This resulted in me stumbling in front of all of my co-workers. It was pretty embarrassing. I wished I had bought heels with a strap instead. This was when it came to me. Why not just make detachable straps to go over your pumps to keep your foot in the shoe? This was the inspiration for my first invention and brand, Straplets. A year after launching Straplets, I left my job to follow my passions full-time. This allowed me to have focus and further develop my business acumen and also my latest invention, the Curling Headband, which we recently launched with my second brand, RobeCurls. The Curling Headband is the world’s first heatless curling headband inspired by a viral TikTok hack dubbed #robecurls.
I create ideas for progress by using my background in law to identify and secure patents, an anomaly in the fashion industry that gives my creations a unique edge. These products solve everyday frustrations for everyday people. To me, creating and launching these innovations and seeing the help it brings to others feels like my calling. And I hope that my journey inspires others to know that they, too, can create innovative change to better the lives of others.
INDIEGOGO: What makes your Indiegogo project unique?
EMILY: The amount of testing that went into the product we launched on Indiegogo is unbelievable. From a product development side, we wanted to make sure that our heatless satin Curling Headband addressed all the frustrations users have with curling irons and other heatless tools. And with our Curling Headband we did just that — we made a product that gives you easier, healthier, flawless curls. We cut the average time spent curling one’s hair from 40 minutes to 90 seconds; we transformed curling tools into a wearable solution that is comfortable and stylish to wear and curl day or night (even at the gym!); and we developed a way to curl your hair that actually promotes hair health and reduces the damage that curling irons and hot tools cause. It promotes hair health, adding shine and moisture to your locks through use.
Before launching the Curling Headband you see today on Indiegogo, we tested our product in the market for a year, making several substantial design improvements during this time. This means thousands of users have tried earlier iterations of the product, which has over four stars on Amazon from over one hundred reviews. For the new and improved Curling Headband currently on Indiegogo, we had over 500 women test and try the product and share with us their results. We made sure it created heatless curls and waves on short hair, long hair, super straight hair that never curls, and even wavy and curly hair, on which it is used to help define the curls.
We also have tested, and continue to test, pretty much all heatless curling tools that come to market. To date, this tallies up to nearly 100 products tested. In good conscience, I could not launch a product that I did not know is the best in our category. For those looking for an easier, more natural, and healthier way to curl their hair, we are confident the RobeCurls Curling Headband is the best solution out there and that you will love it.
INDIEGOGO: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women who want to start their own business?
EMILY: It took me nearly four years to launch my first invention, Straplets. I waited until everything was perfect before launching, which I do not recommend. For my RobeCurls Curling Headband, I went from idea to market with only two months and $500, launching our first prototype on Amazon, which sold out a couple days later. I would definitely advise starting small, launching fast, and staying lean. Get the product out there, and start testing and iterating. Use real feedback from real customers to improve and get to actually know them and what they want.
For the first year after we launched our RobeCurls initial prototype on Amazon we focused on confirming demand, testing product-market fit, iterating the product design based on feedback and scaling production capabilities (which started with our product being handsewn by a local fashion student, to now being created overseas at a factory selected for their mass retail production capabilities). For Straplets we did all those steps pre-launch, but I’ve learned there’s no need to wait. Just launch it, and fix the details in real time. Your customers always know best, so it’ll make completing those steps easier, more accurate, and plus, you’ll get them done faster.
INDIEGOGO: What tools (gadgets, apps, books, podcasts) would you recommend to anyone starting their own business, crowdfunding campaign, or project?
EMILY: My iPhone 12 Pro is a life-saver. I use it for email, social media, research, filming, podcasts, music, zoom calls and keeping in touch with everyone. Slack, Notion, Quickbooks and Google Drive are tools that make running your own business and sharing information a lot more efficient. I’m also an extra huge fan of AspireIQ for sourcing and managing relationships with content creators and your community. And if you are looking for expert hair styling tutorials, I highly recommend subscribing to Alex Gaboury’s Youtube channel. For books, I would recommend Let My People Go Surfing by Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman, and Spark! How Genius Ignites, from Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers by Claudia Kalb, which is on my nightstand right now. For any young founder, I would recommend Project Startup #1 (Eat Bugs!) which is based on our RobeCurl’s teammate Laura D’Asaro’s adventure bringing her first company, Chirps, to life!
INDIEGOGO: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign, or a campaign you’ve recently supported?
EMILY: Well, since our Indiegogo campaign is live right now it has to be ours! The original heatless Curling Headband by RobeCurls – the first and only headband that creates flawless, healthy curls and waves. It is a game-changer! Spend less time doing your hair, more time doing what you love.
Want to support Emily’s campaign? Check out RobeCurls on Indiegogo.