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HairSyrup: achieving viral growth with TikTok

How a viral TikTok video launched a thriving multi-million pound haircare line.

HairSyrup products

HairSyrup is a UK-based hair care brand that specialises in natural, pre-wash hair oil treatments. With a focus on natural ingredients, all their products are manufactured in the North of England and disturbed from Pembrokeshire in West Wales. 

Founded in 2020 by Lucie Macleod in a bid to tackle her own hair woes, the brand has since gone from strength to strength. This has largely been thanks to going viral on TikTok, racking up over eighty-eight million views, 5.3 million likes and 251,000 followers.

The power of TikTok

Like many founders before her, Lucie started her brand as a frustrated consumer. “I had tried a lot of products from salons and shops, but none gave me the long-term effects I wanted," she said. 

She began making her own hair oils at home and, after a bit of experimentation, soon found that her DIY products were transforming her hair. She shared her recipes and results on TikTok and, to her surprise, the video went viral. 

TikTok

Lucie was surprised at this, as she had a very small number of followers on the social media platform, but the video was seen by thousands.

“It was just by chance that I made the video and it went viral," she said. "I never had any interest in beauty aside from my own personal interests, but it feels like it was meant to be.” 

After being bombarded with requests, she quickly realised she had a real opportunity to fill a huge gap in the UK market for natural hair oil treatments.

A gap in the market

Lucie started small. She purchased raw materials from UK-based suppliers and began producing oils in her parents’ spare bedroom. “A lot of people don't realise that a huge amount of beauty brands are born out of a kitchen and it really is the best way to start as you're at virtually no risk of a loss” she said. 

It wasn't until two years later that she secured a relationship with a manufacturer who now produces her product in bulk. “There really is no rush for things like that so don't be tempted to run before you can walk. Take it slow. Make sure your brand actually takes off and your customers love your products before worrying about the big logistics” she advised. “The company wasn't even limited until 2021 so I worked on a self-employed basis prior to that.”

Growing the business

While the popularity of HairSyrup quickly skyrocketed, Lucie has still faced challenges. It all happened so quickly that scaling her operation in line with consumer demand was far from easy. 

“It's so difficult to predict sales forecasts which, in turn, makes purchasing goods really difficult because you just don't know when a product might go viral” she said. “We've had products sit on the shelves for weeks with no sign of movement and then suddenly, almost overnight we sell out.” 

GTIN

Becoming a GS1 UK member has helped Lucie tackle some of these challenges as using GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and barcodes has given her better visibility of her supply chain and inventory.

It has also helped her secure lucrative retail and ecommerce opportunities with the likes of WH Smith, Superdrug and Urban Outfitters. She now has her sights set on overseas expansion and is exporting her products to the United States and Australia. 

“We joined GS1 UK when we started working with retailers that required barcoding for the products. Being a part of GS1 UK allows us to work with both domestic and  international retailers without any restrictions” she said.

What’s next?

Lucie currently spends most of her time focusing on the creative direction of the brand and says she is only just getting started. 

“I have huge plans and visions for HairSyrup” she said. “We've already conquered the UK market. We're one of the best performing brands on TikTok UK and are now being stocked by many major retailers but I really have my heart set on going global. 

“These aren't just trendy products that will have their five minutes of fame. They have become an integral part of hundreds of thousands of people's hair care routines and have been hailed as 'life changing'. I want as many people as possible to try them and reap their endless benefits.”

Advice to fellow founders

Based on her own business experiences, Lucie recommends taking it one step at a time. Don't worry about perfect packaging, going viral, or getting a nice office, just focus on making your first sale. Then focus on the next ten sales, then a hundred.

Lucie MacLeod

Lucie MacLeod, founder and managing director of Hair Syrup

“I always focused on the small milestones and before I knew it, there was a snowball effect and the business blew up. Time & time again I hear people worrying about things like trademarks, retailers, workspaces before they've even made a single sale. Check that the brand has legs before you worry about running.” 

Unsurprisingly, she is also a firm believer in the power of social media. “My experience with TikTok has been pretty amazing. I wouldn’t have a business without it. We started with TikTok Shop when it was in its infancy so, as a brand, we have felt the growing pains, but I do believe that in a few years the platform will be huge channel across the world and I’m super excited to be a part of that.”

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