Story originally posted on FEB 24 2017.
From practicing on Barbie dolls to owning a business boasting some 600,000 Instagram followers, 19-year-old celebrity hairstylist Cliff Vmir is well on his way to the hair hall of fame.
“I got started doing hair about five years ago,” said Vmir, of Philadelphia, whose clients include Cardi B from “Love and Hip Hop,” R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan and VH1’s “Flavor of Love” participant Tiffany Pollard. “I used to have my mom buy me little Barbie dolls. I always dreamed of being a real big stylist.”
Vmir remembers having a love of hairstyling from the age of two. When he was 14, after coming home from school, he practiced his hair techniques on his little sister and others in his family. The budding entrepreneur entered cosmetology school and learned the basics of relaxers and colors.
And now? Vmir owns a best selling product line that smooths edges, a hairline and a hair salon in Philly, with a second salon location set to open in Atlanta in March. He launched his product line using the money he saved from working at the Bliss Element hair salon in Delaware. And, his brand has grown to include eight products, including four types of Indian hair, and frontals and closures used with weaves. Cosmetics are next on his list.
“I just felt like I wanted something different to offer,” he said. “Around that time, nobody really had edge controls, no one really had silkening mist, but when I released mine it was something different.”
Vmir’s popular silkening mist product was created in collaboration with a chemist. They worked on the formula for months.
“At first he sent me a hundred bottles of it and I absolutely did not like it. I felt like it was too oily,” Vmir said, pushing for a product that would “straighten the hair, protect the hair, give it a little shine, and not make it oily.” Eventually, Vmir stumbled upon the finished product he currently sells. “Ever since then, if I get a hundred bottles today or tomorrow, it would be gone by the end of the week.”
Vmir entered cosmetology school with his mother’s blessing after having enrolled at the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware. He turned down a career as a nurse technician to do hair. And it worked out quite well.
“I feel like a lot of people who are 16, 17, or 18, don’t really know what they wanna do and they really don’t know what to do,” said Vmir, who wants to inspire younger teens to “get it together at a young age so they can have a plan when they walk across that graduation stage.”
Vmir runs off his numbers. Once, he said, he made $23,000 from a two-day hair sale
“That’s a massive amount of money to be making when you’re only 19,” he said, adding that he makes those numbers off hair sales alone. Meanwhile, the grind seemingly never stops, even when he goes home.
“I wake up one, two in the morning and I feel like those are entrepreneur hours where all entrepreneurs wake up and we just think about what can benefit our business and ways we can benefit,” he said. “We think of ideas, we think of what we’re going to do. We plan our next weeks and months and we do some more research trying to better our brand.”
The teen entrepreneur made his share of mistakes, especially with waiting too long to send the product to customers, but he learned from them. Now he patiently brushes off lectures and paternal advice about how he should run his business.
People often say “Oh you’re only nineteen,” or “I don’t think you really know what you’re doing,” he said, adding that being young does have a certain pitfall when it comes to travel. “I need someone over 21 to book a certain hotel.”
Yet, his focus remains on his business and his like-minded employees. “We all just go to work every day and have fun. We’re young so I like to motivate other young people as well.”
No stranger to the viral nature of social media, Vmir is strategic about his social shares. He has some 100,000 to 450,000 views on Instagram videos that show his hair installations, closures, braids, and makeup applications. About 2,689 posts later, his Instagram feed is every hair lover’s fantasy, from the sleekest of hair applications to the curliest.
“I remember I went to Chicago and I was at this salon – had never been to the salon before – and I looked over and this girl was using my product,” he said, describing the good feeling of knowing he has worldwide support. “It just makes me so proud. it goes to show that all these photoshoots and Instagram videos and things I’m doing is really working.”
Vmir also is quick to thank his supporters. “These people pay my bills. They’re the way I survive, they’re the way my brand keeps growing, so without them I wouldn’t really have a brand at all.”