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Hidden Gems: Meet Maxine Pittman of Tress Obsessed

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maxine Pittman. Them and their team share their story with us below:

CEO and Founder Maxine Pittman is a born-and-raised Los Angeles millennial who isn’t afraid of hard work, sweat equity, and some faux lashes. Over the years, traveling and beauty have become her two favorite hobbies, watching Youtube tutorials, practicing makeup looks, and trying out different hairstyles, hair products, and cosmetics in her vanity mirror. Her passion became beauty, travel, and people. Having gone natural, giving up perms completely just nine years ago, and doing the big chop during the covid quarantine, Maxine has been fascinated with the transformation of the beauty industry as women of color are becoming more and more comfortable with their hair in its natural state.

Originally, pre-covid, Maxine had a bright idea to open the first 24-hour beauty supply in Los Angeles! But then – covid hit. And, after a late-night heart-to-heart conversation with her mentor, Maxine had to think on her feet and realized she needed to pivot and adapt quickly!

Maxine realized the shopping landscape was changing. She had always wanted to do vending machines in college but didn’t have the money to do it and didn’t know what she wanted to sell in the machines. Then, she had a bright idea – why not offer travel-sized beauty supply items in a vending machine!

She remembered traveling all over the world, to the Middle East, to Europe, to the Caribbean, all over Mexico and only one thing was common on all of her travels: none of the hotels or resorts she ever stayed in offered complimentary travel-size products catered towards women of color. After checking into hundreds of hotel rooms and having over a dozen experiences on excursions, at spas, and the like; none of them offered mini lotions, shampoos, or body washes that women of color could actually use.

Maxine decided to rebrand and evolve because she was exhausted and saddened to see women of color left out, yet again in the beauty industry.

So, if you are frustrated with throwing away oversized beauty products at the airport during TSA pre-checks, or you need travel-size minis for your suitcase, gym bag, or overnight bag – look no further. Maxine has made it her goal to make sure women of color and curly girls don’t ever have to be without their favorite hair, beauty, and skin brands whether it’s traveling to sun-beaten Dubai or riding ATVs in snowy Alaska, she wants you to know we got you covered!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Absolutely not! Starting a business in any industry is always tough. Especially when you are using your own savings instead of OPM (Other People’s Money), and we also were up against a rough pandemic and recession to say the least. But, I was up for the challenge.

I had to teach myself an industry (vending) that I knew nothing about and apply everything I had learned in undergrad and business school and apply it to my own business and also make sure it was actually successful because most businesses fail within five years.

There are technical failures with the machines if you’re buying used machines, there are employees who quit or steal from you, there are software issues when you use software that is not compatible with the software in the machines or on the back end to keep track of things like inventory, cash flow, costs, etc., there are people who want to take your idea and recycle it as their own, you have companies and brands that want to work with you but may not have your best interests at heart, there are venues you want to work with that won’t even sit down to speak with you, much less return an email — there are so many things me and my team have gone through during this process and are still going through today!

In this new social media era, nobody is transparent anymore about what their brand and business go through but I am here to tell you, it is far from easy! You are getting pulled in so many directions with little to no resources and everyday you just have to keep going hard to make people see your brand.

We’ve been impressed with Tress Obsessed, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Tress Obsessed the first of its kind!

We offer women of color their favorite hair care & beauty products in a vending machine experience so curly girls never have to be without the brands they know and love while jet-setting, road tripping and globetrotting anywhere in the world!

We also offer internships, e-education and employment opportunities for women looking to work with us or work for us. We sell a Vending Basics E-book and 1 on 1 phone consultations for women interested in doing their own beauty vending business and we also have a few open positions we are currently interviewing for right now.

Our website is a full-service one stop shop that offers easy, small, convenient carry on approved beauty items so women of color can look their best on-the-go for any occasion.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
We have been approached by several larger beauty brands that want to enter the vending market to have us distribute and carry their brand as well as HBCU college campus opportunities and other exciting avenues we are looking forward to entering.

In the next 5-10 years, I’d like to fully automate the business so it basically can run on its own with 10-20 vending locations on college university campuses and in airports so that I can focus more on the e-education aspect while my team runs the ground-level operations.

That way, we can allow more women of color to enter the beauty vending industry, an industry that for a long time was dominated by mostly men.

Pricing:

  • $4 cheapest product in our machines
  • $20 most expensive product in our machines
  • $49.99 for our e-book
  • $250-350 for one-on-one phone consultations

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Atlanta Black Star News

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