Executive Q&A: Priyanka Swamy

Helping women all over the world gain confidence with beautiful hair, Perfect Locks cofounder Priyanka Swamy has a passion for giving back.

Born and raised in Bangalore, India, Priyanka Swamy aspired to be a beauty entrepreneur who empowers women across the globe. She achieved this goal by
cofounding the hair extension and wig company Perfect Locks with her husband Gautama in 2007.

Growing up, Swamy witnessed women selflessly cut off their gorgeous hair at temples as part of a spiritual ritual called Tonsure. Focused on helping people let go, the act involves shaving one’s head and offering the hair to a higher power to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Perfect Locks purchases this hair from the temples and gives the hair a second life by using it to make a variety of beautiful wigs and extensions. And purchasing the shorn hair additionally benefits the local Indian economy. When worn, the fashionable creations give women confidence and the ability to effortlessly change up their hairstyles.

Perfect Locks’ products use ethically sourced, 100 percent virgin Indian hair. All the hair is hand-selected and triple inspected to ensure consumers receive well-made, highly crafted products. Because many of their customers are also cancer patients, Perfect Locks has donated more than $30,000 since its inception to cancer research organizations. Learn more about Swamy and her company here.

Beauty Store Business: Tell us how you went from an architect and interior designer to a beauty entrepreneur.
Priyanka Swamy: As an architect, I always had a passion for design and creative things. As an entrepreneur for almost 10 years in India, running my own interior design firm made me realize how much I love doing business and being a leader. Researching niche markets with voids to fill, my deep connection to the the most beautiful hair in India and a strong passion to succeed are what ultimately led me to become a beauty entrepreneur.

What inspired you to create Perfect Locks in 2007?
Hair always fascinated me as a child. Having unmanageable hair myself made me curious to try out different natural products to tame it. I have always admired the various textures and wondered how people could change up their hair textures or styles and look so different, attractive and confident. Knowing that India is the biggest exporter of human hair in the world and that there’s a high demand for this high-quality product on the market are what inspired me to create Perfect Locks.

“Perfect Locks ethically sources hair by supporting factories who participate in auctions and fair trade.”

How is the brand’s 100 percent virgin Indian hair sourced?
India is the only country where people donate their hair voluntarily for spiritual purposes every day. Tens of thousands of pilgrims get their heads shaved on a daily basis. Tens of millions of people per year donate tons and tons of hair. The hair is then auctioned by the temple to the highest bidder, with funds going back to the community towards building free schools for kids and helping the poor. This trade also provides jobs to women in villages throughout India, empowering women to be independent. The export of human hair boosts the economy, helping the country. Perfect Locks ethically sources hair by supporting factories who participate in auctions and fair trade.

Can you explain the key differences between remy, non-remy and virgin hair?
Virgin hair is the purest form of human hair, which has not been processed in any way. Remy is the term used for processed hair. Hair can be slightly processed to make it smoother or colored. The cuticles will remain intact on remy hair. Non-remy hair is technically human hair, which has been processed to rip the cuticle off. Perfect Locks only sells virgin and remy hair.

What tips do you have for retailers to determine if wigs and extensions are high in quality?
Don’t judge the book by its cover. Hair extensions that look pretty and shiny may be non-remy hair. With natural human hair, you should always compare the root end with the tail end; they need to match in color, as the ends of human hair will be lighter in color and thinner. Another test is to rub the hair between your thumb and index finger. If the hair bunches up, it is non-remy hair.

What are your top care tips for consumers to maintain their wigs and extensions?
Always use high-quality, sulfate-free products to maintain your human hair extensions. Most products you find in drugstores will have chemicals that dry out the hair. The key to longevity is maintenance and keeping the hair moisturized. Use professional stylists for installations and colorists for coloring procedures.

My long-term goal is to have multiple retail locations in major metropolitan areas, creating the ultimate hair shopping experience for consumers and professionals in-store and online.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the brand up and running?
As a mother of two small kids, it’s always a challenge to find balance between family life and work life. The most challenging aspect was branding and marketing.

What are some of your goals for Perfect Locks?
I would love Perfect Locks to be a brand everybody knows when it comes to purchasing luxury hair extensions. My long-term goal is to have multiple retail locations in major metropolitan areas, creating the ultimate hair shopping experience for consumers and professionals in-store and online.

What have been some of your career highlights over the years?
As a dreamer and an intuitive person, trusting my instincts to take calculated risks with various business decisions has most definitely paid off. Today we are one of the few online stores carrying a variety of high-quality hair extension products, which cater to a diverse range of people.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
My biggest lesson learned is to make the right choices when it comes to choosing team members. I am big on positive energy. Having the right team can make things click for the company; the wrong fit can be a negative hit to the company.

Will you be debuting any new products in the near future?
We have an amazing range of new introductions lined up for this year, which is very exciting. Hair toppers for women with hair loss problems is one of our upcoming launches. You’ll have to follow us on social media for sneak peaks of our other launches!

Tell us how Perfect Locks gives back to the community.
We have many customers with medical conditions, with cancer being a predominant condition. We feel for our customers and are happy to help them feel like themselves and regain confidence by using our products. For this reason, we believe in giving back to cancer research and have donated to various cancer research-supporting organizations.

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