Maxine Pittman, Introduces a Fresh New Way to Shop Your Favorite Hair Products
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I have always had entrepreneurs in my family. I have cousins and an uncle who run their own business, and my mother has tried to run her own business a few times during my adolescence. My grandfather had his own business as well, so entrepreneurship has always been around me, but I was so stuck in my corporate career I never had the time to truly explore this side of who I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I got tired of dealing with racism and sexism in the workplace that eventually resulted in the toll it would take on my mental health then I realized I am easily replaceable in white-owned corporations. I realized I had to create something for myself. I have always had the ability to market products and sell (I have been in marketing and sales for over ten years in Corporate America). I figured if I could take the knowledge I have learned from my corporate career and apply that to something I truly had a passion for and cared about, I could be unstoppable. So, I did.
Tell us about your products?
Tress Obsessed is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for women of color with active,
on-the-go lifestyles. We offer easy-to-carry, TSA-approved, 4 oz or less, travel size minis in your favorite hair care and beauty brands but — in a vending machine. We offer over 60 travel-size beauty products from brands you already know and love in sizes that are easy to carry with you. We currently have four active vending machine locations, with two more locations coming for 2022.
We offer brands like Shea Moisture, Taliah Waajid, Nivea, Ambi, Clairol, Mane Choice, Cantu, göt2b, OGX, Curls, Black Girl Sunscreen, Luster’s, and more! These are brands women of color use on their hair and skin every day – but in sizes small enough to carry in their purse, luggage, carry-on bag, overnight bag, or briefcase. Women are now occupying spaces they were not allowed to 20-30 years ago, and we need to be able to take our beauty and hair care products with us!
How do your products stand out against the competition?
Since the pandemic, Americans starting businesses has skyrocketed. Everyone is starting a business! Which is a great thing. But, the beauty vending industry is a very small niche market with a niche demographic of customers. I’ve been seeing a ton of women starting vending machine companies, and all of them – yes, ALL of them – are either selling bundles of hair or faux lashes. In this type of industry, we offer something women have never had – we offer a beauty supply type of environment in areas women are not used to having their hair products but need them! Meaning if you’re about to hop on a flight and realize you didn’t pack your hair serum or sunscreen or your shampoo (or TSA made you throw away your 32 oz shampoo bottle), our vending machine is there to assist and get you what you need on the spot. We are nothing like our competition in that way, we are the first in Los Angeles to do this, and we have many more locations to come.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Covid-19 made it very hard to run a business. Nobody was outside, so the majority of our locations had very low foot traffic, which resulted in very low sales. Also, when it came to the administrative side of running a business and getting paperwork filed that was necessary to run my business – state government offices were either closed or their turnover times for processing were lagged or delayed, which meant I had to wait weeks or months to get the paperwork processed which was very frustrating.
What advice would you give someone who seeks to be an entrepreneur?
The advice I would give someone who thinks they are ready to start their own business is to make sure you have the funding to do it – because everything takes money to get done and make sure you have the patience in yourself during this growth process. Nothing is going to happen overnight. Forget what the social media influencers tell you. Running a business is VERY hard and can be discouraging at times. And you need to have the support system and the confidence and patience in yourself and your growth process to see your business to the finish line; otherwise – it’s just a hobby.
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
In the next five years, I would like to have 20-30 new vending machine locations, and I would also like to have our first international locations in the UK and the Caribbean. I would also like to get into doing more speaking engagements and be able to run the ground level logistics and processes of my business in my absence so that I can focus on the e-education side of the business (i.e., doing seminars, a podcast, writing another version of the ebook and consulting).
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Maxine Pittman is the Founder and CEO of Tress Obsessed Beauty Vending. Tress Obsessed began as an online beauty supply store. After the pandemic shifted the economy, Maxine decided to pivot Tress Obsessed to become recession-proof. She took a risk, successfully switching gears, and was able to adapt to the current trends of the economy. Maxine transformed her beauty business into an innovative beauty vending machine company.