Alanna York –  ‘I am only ever able to see the positive’

Alanna York – ‘I am only ever able to see the positive’

A self-described “hippie at heart,” stylist Alanna York started her eco-friendly line of hair products spur of the moment, with a “go-with-your-gut” feeling.

The line, which is vegan, sulfate, paraben and BPA free, is made entirely in the United States with all-natural ingredients, and makes use of roughly a half-dozen filling stations and mail-back programs to recycle bottles.

And, although not quite a year old, it’s already made a grand entrance: It was launched at America’s Beauty Show, and featured at pre-parties for the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards.

Q

What were your most important needs in getting started with your business?

A

Money, of course. (The longtime stylist, who owns Head Games in Portland, began developing the product in 2007, but the economic dive sidelined things.) It took me another few years to get a small investment to fill our first small order. We had to do a bare-bones launch. I was making phone calls, going door-to-door. In four to six weeks, we had 10 to 15 accounts. Then we were able to secure enough of an investment to change our packaging, construct filling stations, and hire sales staff.

Q

What factors from your upbringing gave you the courage to venture out on your own?

A

I only ever am able to see the positive in any project I take on – if I can see the negative in it, than I don’t do it. I don’t know if it’s courage or stupidity. It can be really, really hard, but it’s really rewarding. If I knew how much work it really was going to be, and how scary it could be at times, I would have been too chicken to do it.

Q

What do you think are the advantages of being a female entrepreneur?

A

Being a friendly, personable and intelligent person – whether you’re male or female, it doesn’t matter. Your bottom line improves naturally if you care about your product and your people.

Q

What advice would you give an aspiring woman entrepreneur?

A

If you have an idea, look at what can go right, and don’t even pay attention to what can go wrong. Just stay with it. Where people can get led astray is doubting themselves. Stay the course, and believe what you believe in, stay true to the original reason you started, and I think you’ll always be happy and successful.

Q

If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

A

I had micro-managed Head Games to death for years; it takes a long time to let your baby go. I would say let other people make decisions and trust your team. I started Use Me! that way, but I would’ve been a little more hands-on with my staff. It’s tough to manage people that you don’t see every day.

– Taryn Plumb

The Personnel File:Use Me! Refill. Reuse. Repeat.Portland(888) SO-USE-MEwww.usemeproducts.com

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