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How I Broke Out of Corporate America

Rupi Hair Owner

MAY 2009

I was newly married in Indianapolis living in the house that I bought back in 2006 with our son. Kern just finished his MBA and got a offer in Chicago. We were set to move and put the house on the market. This was right after the big housing bust and no one was really buying homes at the time. The value of my house went down $20,000 overnight. I just wanted to get as much out of it as I possibly could. I wasn't in the market to be a landlord especially being in a completely different state. The house didn't sell and I was a wreck! The mortgage needed to be paid whether we lived there or not. I was young and worked hard to build up good credit and I didn't want this situation to destroy my credit in a snap.

On top of dealing with a move to big city Chicago, trying to find a place to stay, trying to sell a home when no one was buying, I had to deal with my job situation. I was an outside business sales representative for U.S. Bank offering merchant services (setting up credit card processing) to all the banks business customers in the state of Indiana. I loved the job actually. I loved my Director. I had a home office. There wasn't an office that I had to physically go to at a certain hour. I was in a nice comfort zone. However, with all that freedom and comfort, I was working for someone else. Still I was bringing US Bank more financial prosperity and I felt I was getting the crumbs. No matter how well I did, my ownership mindset saw me getting the short end of the stick.

Family move to Chicago


Since we were in a situation, where Kern had student loan debt, we were moving to a more expensive city, we still owned the house in Indy, we had a son to take care of....the list goes on.... the fact was I needed to contribute to the household financially. I put in a request to transfer my job to Chicago and all was going well. My director put in good recommendation to the new director and I was slated to start soon after we settled.

Then a hiccup happened. The company was finishing up a merger with another bank and things became screwed up. They were considering hiring someone else from the new bank that was being merged with US Bank even though they already offered me the position. And that they did....they called me back and said "I know we informally offered you the position but we're going to give it to someone else who knows Chicago a little better." I remember crying in my bed because we just moved to Chicago with a vacant house in Indianapolis that I still needed to pay for each month including the bills that went with it and take care of everything in Chicago.

I started looking on careerbuilder and and was thinking here I am again. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but I'm going into looking for another job. When will I ever do it! When will I ever take a chance on me! Even though I was only 26 at the time, I was thinking I'm going to stay in this cycle of working to make other peoples dreams come true. I didn't want to look up and 10 years pass and say "I wish...what if I just...."

This was the time! God was given me an out of my slave mentality. I thought I "HAD" to get a job. My mindset was there is only one way to make money and that is a job. That is basically a form of slavery when you are trapped in one way of thinking. So, I just stopped. I talked with my husband and we decided I would start my own business. We decided to live well below our means so I can take the time to start my business. I decided to be a stay at home mom while finding and building a business venture.


I wish I could say I decided to start my business that week and was on my way to making millions! That was so not the case. I went into a depression of what to do. Who am I? What is my purpose? I didn't want to just start a business doing anything. I wanted it to be something I was passionate about and not just someting to make money. I was reading books on people's success- Steve Jobs, Oprah, Richard Branson, Russell Simmons. These books lit a fire in me that I knew was there all along. But I still didn't know my passion. I talked to my sisters everyday with my depressing days and nights of searching for my passion. Then one day my older sister, Linda, said to take one thing you like and to branch off things of that one thing even if they sound ridiculous . For example, I would write down "Running track" and under it would be things I could do related to that such as "writing a book about running track", "Coaching track", "Creating a running camp for kids" etc. Doing these exercises were very therapeutic for me. It's something about writing things down that helps the mind relax and flow better. I did this with anything I could thing of from I loved running, dancing to Beyonce, cake... I wrote it down and branched off of that main idea I loved.


I was talking to my sister as usual, my free life coach, about what to do make sure her weave looked natural. I was teling her suggestions so her weave wouldn't look "wiggy". And she said you are just the weave expert. You could talk about weave for days. And I was like, "if you're going to wear a weave at least make it natural!" I did love weave and so I went back to the drawing board. I wrote down "HAIR EXTENSIONS" and branched off from there "weave consultant" , "cosmetologist specializing in weave", and other crazy things. I finally came to selling hair extensions! That light bulb came on and I've been running with it ever since. This is before everyone was selling hair but I wanted to create something new. I wanted to offer the best hair and not just selling hair for money. I wanted to offer great hair that was natural where it didn't look fake because that was my passion.

MARCH 2010

I wanted to hit the ground running! I started off purchasing from the best hair company that I knew existed. I got a small discount for purchasing a few bundles at a time and spent about $900 and resold it for about a $15 profit per bunde. I just wanted to get my feet wet but I knew this could not be my source for hair if I wanted to really run a business. I needed to find the best hair directly.

I searched and searched for great quality hair but all the hair was crazy expensive that was the best quality. I didn't want to order from China because I figure potential customers might as well go to the beauty supply store. I wanted to offer something different if I was going to do this. I found out the most coveted hair is not offered for sale online in large bulk. They don't have to advertise. It is rare and not available by the masses like hair from China. I got a connection from my husband. His coworker was from South India and she connected me to a source for raw virgin hair from Indian temples. She worked as my connection when she would travel back to India to communicate with a direct source to get this amazing raw hair straight from Indian temples. God was connecting all the dots. I started Rupi Virgin Hair. I filed my business online, opened up a business account, started a very cheap website at the time and hit the streets to tell stylist, customers about Rupi Virgin Hair! I left cards in beauty salons and nail shops, spoke to anyone who listened. It was grueling and exhausting but something about it gave me a new sense of pride and confidence. I sold in flea markets, vendor for church events., opened up a small loft in a building as my store front. I was on a mission to get my name out there! My very first year March 2010-Dec 2010 I made about $55,000 in sales! I was so happy that I gained the confidence to just do it! I could have easily went on to eventually find a job that would pay me a safe amount but I decided to take that leap and not look back. It was a scary leap but the more I invested, the further I was away from turning back. The decision to start a business and get out of corporate america (even though it taught me a lot) was one of the best decisions of my life!

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