by Chanel Martin
May 10, 2019
Source: Latched and Hooked Founder Tiffini Gatlin
Tiffini Gatlin—a former corporate bank executive—turned her 20-year side hustle of braiding and protective styling hair into a beauty brand by creating the first pre-curled and looped synthetic crochet hair. With a successful sale of her first synthetic hair brand, Curlkalon Hair Collection, Gatlin expanded her vision for creating safe and affordable synthetic hair extensions with the launch of her second brand, Latched and Hooked Beauty.
Her products are a staple in the synthetic hair industry, catching the attention of celebrities such as Gabrielle Union and mainstream media outlets including Allure, which named her brand one of the best for women of color.
In this interview, Gatlin expands on her career pivot and future plans.Black Enterprise: Tell us about how you got started in the industry and what was your inspiration?Gatlin: I actually started in the beauty industry when I was 16-years-old. Ms. Gloria, a popular braider in my neighborhood, asked me if I was interested in learning how to braid and told me how much money I could make, so I decided to give it a try. For a few months on the weekends, I’d walk almost a mile to her home, and she’d teach me different techniques and even allowed me to practice on her clients. Several months later, I started building my own clientele. I used my friend Naima and other popular girls in my high school as models to display my work and attract clients strictly by word of mouth.I didn’t pick braiding back up as a side hustle until I became an entrepreneur in 2010. I used the money earned from braiding hair to fund my entrepreneurial goals. In 2014, I took notice of girls on Instagram using a century-old method called crochet braiding to create voluminous curls, and I thought the style was amazing and the perfect style hack for girls who were transitioning, unable to grasp the “perfect rod set” or just wanted to switch up her look for a few weeks. I started trying the style on my clients and although I loved the results I hated the process which consisted of using boiling water to form the synthetic hair into a curl. Because synthetic hair is nothing more than a polymer (plastic), the use of hot water makes the style “set” and voila, you have perfect curls for weeks without any additional maintenance.