Full Transcript: Mayvenn CEO Diishan Imira On GHOGH Podcast Part 1

Written by Staff
Black startup founder Diishan Imira
Diishan Imira is the founder and CEO of Mayvenn, Inc., a tech company that reshapes how sale retail products are distributed. Photo: Anita Sanikop

In episode 47 of the GHOGH podcast, Jamarlin Martin talks to Diishan Imira, founder and CEO of Mayvenn, a platform to empower hair stylists and take back ownership of the beauty market.

Diishan talks about why his father refused to pass down a “slave name,” his work in China, and how Black women were his first investors. They also discuss his razor-sharp focus on customers and being PR-light.

You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 47: Diishan Imira
Jamarlin talks to Diishan Imira, founder and CEO of Mayvenn, a platform that empowers hair stylists to take back ownership of the beauty market.

This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let’s GHOGH! Today we have Diishan Imira. Welcome to the GHOGH show.

Diishan Imira: Thanks for having me.

Jamarlin Martin: A little bit about Diishan. I was really happy to get this interview. We’ve interviewed entrepreneurs across America, Black entrepreneurs across America and the consensus I got in the community was a lot of entrepreneurs, they get a lot of press, get a lot of buzz, there’s a lot of hype, there’s a lot of headlines. But the consensus I got, was you’re the real deal, that you’re the man with a really strong business that has momentum. You have the fundamentals down. Why isn’t there more press about you?

Diishan Imira: I haven’t sought a lot of press. Not because I’m like really some like master strategist and it’s all some big plan to be quiet about things. But I’ve always just been sort of quiet when I work. I like to do things and then after I do them, then talk about them. And then I often find myself, even after I do a thing, feeling like it’s not good enough, I need to get to the next level, I want to do another thing and then I’ll talk about stuff. But I’ve also found that all the attention from press is very distracting and generally is not that good for whatever your core metric or KPI in your business is, which usually is customers and sales. And press does not always equal sales. And a lot of it can be very seductive and gets you into feeling like you’re the man, cause you’re on a magazine cover or you’re getting accolades and people writing about you and talking about you. And the next thing you know, people are calling you and you’re going on the road and you’re talking at shows and you’re on the circuit and you’re not in the office. So that can hurt an early stage entrepreneur to not be focused and not have your eye on the ball. So I’ve come to look at press as much more strategic and it’s really about how exactly is press going to drive forward the business. A lot of the stories that people want to discuss, or the press has wanted to talk about with me has been about fundraising, and these are mainstream publications, Forbes and Fortune and these types of things. Their audience that they’re speaking to is a business crowd. That story is interesting and that story is cool, but my customers are not necessarily ready that magazine. That does not translate into more people saying, “Oh I should buy more hair from Mayvenn.” So I’ve just generally looked at the opportunities for press and then I’ve said, is this going to help or is this not going to help? and then I’ve also found that like the mainstream press, they would prefer to focus on that story than talk about the actual business. And so that’s a little annoying to me actually.

Jamarlin Martin: Do you think it’s a coincidence in terms of valuation and momentum, that the most meaningful traction among founders that look like us, and you’re not looking for press, but when you started you weren’t looking for press, do you think that there’s any correlation between the two, the fact that you are relatively with other entrepreneurs, I would call you very light PR, relative to the traction you have?

04:10 —Diishan Imira: Is it a coincidence? No, I think there’s a correlation. I think if you stay out of the fray, you’re going to be more focused. And if you’re doing press and you’re doing it not for the sole purpose of attracting more customers, then you’re probably wasting your time as it relates to the business. You might be getting like more popular, right? That could be a benefit for you personally. But it’s not necessarily going to benefit the business. So I do think that for me, there has definitely been a correlation.

Jamarlin Martin: What’s the origin of your last name?

Diishan Imira: Oh, my last name is a whole story. Yeah. So, it’s not my mom or my dad’s last name. So I’m mixed, half black, half white, and my mother’s ancestry is Russian Jewish, my father’s Black. So they were both Bay Area hippies and revolutionaries. And when I was born, my dad did not want to give me the slave name and his last name is Wiley. And we were a really big family on that side too. He’s got like 12, 13 brothers and sisters. So they wanted to just give me my own name. So he took a word from Swahili and my mom took a word from Russian and they put them together and made my last name and that’s what it is.

Jamarlin Martin: I would probably argue some correlation there. You had a father that said, “I cannot give my son a slave name.”

Diishan Imira: Yeah. Honestly growing up and as a kid it was just frustrating cause I was confused by, why is my last name, all these other kids, their last name is their parent’s last name. And people would get confused at school and on forms and stuff like that. They’re like, who’s your dad? Who’s your mom? But as I got older I came to like appreciate that. I appreciate the way that they looked at me and the way that they looked at what they expected for me, which was to just be completely my own person.

Jamarlin Martin: Did your first investors know that you were half Jewish?

Diishan Imira: Well, first of all, I want to just give credit to my actual real first investors which were two Black women that I knew from my college years. I studied abroad in Tokyo when I was a sophomore. I went to Hampton and there was another student on the same program who was coming from Spelman, and she was a year ahead of me. A ridiculously smart woman. And we got really cool, became friends. We’re still friends. This is probably 2001. So in 2012, 2013 when I told her I’ve got this idea for this thing. She was like, “You’ve got to do that? I’ll invest.” And she ended up giving me $10,000 and her best friend gave me $10,000. Those were my first investors. And I’m very proud of that.

Jamarlin Martin: Wow. They’ve got to be sitting nice.

Diishan Imira: They’re sitting nice, as they should be. Black women started this company. Black women lifted me up and put me in the game.

Jamarlin Martin: For the audience, explain what Mayvenn does and how you came up with idea?

08:01 —Diishan Imira: Mayvenn exists because I wanted to empower the community to have more ownership over the beauty market that we support and we pump billions and billions and billions of dollars into. I used to live in China. After college I moved to China. I was there for two years and I had been importing products since 2003. I just started buying stuff off the street in China and I would send it back home and people would sell it for me, send me the money back. And then that turned into a full on business where I was just buying containers of everything, furniture, art, clothing. I would import it back to Miami or Atlanta had a warehouse. I would post stuff on Craigslist. I had a show room and I was just hustling, no order to it, no structure. It was just like cash in a backpack, go to China, give them some money, watch them load up my container, meet the container at the port. Bring all my shit to the warehouse, post some ads on Craigslist.

Jamarlin Martin: Do you credit street game out of the Bay in terms of yeah, you went to college, but are you bringing more street game to the table than your average entrepreneur at this stage in terms of you just want to go get it, you’re doing this business with China and you’re just kind of trying to make it happen.

Diishan Imira: I’d definitely say I’ve always had a mentality of selling something. That was a very, to me, empowering and liberating thing to do was to be able to sell something and make some money from it. And so the Bay, that definitely put some of that spirit in me. And then honestly, I got a lot of my hustle from China. I lived in China for two years and I’ve never seen people hustle like that.

Jamarlin Martin: What parts of China?

Diishan Imira: Shenzhen, Shanghai. I saw a level of hustle and a level of being willing to do whatever it takes over there that I had never seen before. And the energy of people pulling themselves out of the mud and doing anything they could to sell something and make some more money. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for the hustle of China and China’s where they are today because of that. So I’ve got a lot of my game from China as well.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. So I went to Beijing and Shanghai in 2008, and the food sucked. At least in my experience.

Diishan Imira: Where?

Jamarlin Martin: Beijing and Shanghai. I talked to other folks…

Diishan Imira: They didn’t take you to the right places.

Jamarlin Martin: So you had the right places from the start.

Diishan Imira: Because the Chinese food in China is crazy. It’s ridiculous. But you just have to go to the right place. If you go to the wrong place, it’s going to be really, really wrong. It’s going to be super wrong. There’s now where in the middle. You can get the best Chinese food you’ve ever had in your life that you just can’t get here.

Jamarlin Martin: Our guide, I guess, was taking us to some really funny places. This one place I just remember, they have prawns and when I saw the prawns, it was very crispy and …

Diishan Imira: No kung pao.

Jamarlin Martin: So you’re hustling and what’s the next step?

11:44 —Diishan Imira: Okay. So anyway, I said all that to say that my background is really in supply chain and China, and importing and hair came along. I became kind of the guy that everybody knew, all my friends knew me as the guy who could get you stuff from China. So I always had people calling me, “Hey D, can you get scooters from China? Hey, can you get whatever from China?” I’ve imported all kinds of shit. You wouldn’t even be like, what the hell? How are you importing this stuff? I’ve imported slabs of granite, I’ve imported jet skis, clocks, paintings, everything, which all just came from people calling me and saying, “Hey, can you get this stuff?” And so that sent me all over China. I would just be traipsing through the middle of nowhere looking for these factories and just going into factories and talking to these guys. So that was really my skillset, was that I could really work that side of the world. Fast forward, I moved back from China. I was importing stuff. I went back to school, I did an MBA, came back, moved back to the Bay and I wanted to start something. By that time I knew I wanted to start something that was going to connect the internet with all the things I was doing. And I had discovered around that time, 2007, this is when Facebook was going bonkers and became this really big story and actually, at that time I didn’t know about Silicon Valley even though I grew up 40 minutes from there. And then I saw that, oh shit, there’s this place over here, 40 minutes from where I’m from and they’re just handing out $10 million checks to kids.

Jamarlin Martin: Are you from the hood?

Diishan Imira: No, born in the hood, but moved out very early, when I was five. And I was very fortunate to be raised in the Oakland hills, but I didn’t grow up in a very business-oriented family. They’re very social justice, education, overthrow the system. Corporate is bad. That was the ethos I was raised with. But ironically it was like be yourself and be free. It was an ethos of, be liberated. And what I saw was that being free and being liberated in this world meant you have to have your own and you need to be in control or you will be in somebody else’s building at their cubicle, making them money. So that kind of translated into an entrepreneurial mindset for me. I did my MBA. I moved back. I was trying to look for what I wanted to do. I knew I did not want to go work at a company and I needed brain space so I could think and I could test and try different things to figure out what I wanted to do. So I took really menial jobs right after I finished my MBA. So I was valeting and cars, doing yard work. I did a bunch of little weird random ass jobs. I was, you know those guys, they’re called surveyors, the guys that are like out in the middle of the street and they’re looking through that little thing and I was like, what is that shit? So I learned what that was, did that for a little while. I did whatever I could to just keep money in my pocket, but also have the rest of the day free for me to think and figure out what I wanted to do. And then somebody called me in my family, a hairstylist. She asked me if I could help her get some hair extensions from China. And so I did that to help her out, brought back these hair extensions, brought it to some hair salons. The salons were like, “Oh, this is fire. Can you get some more?” And then that turned into me just, this was like another easier way for me to make a little bit of money while I think about what it is that I want to do. So next thing I know, I’m selling hair out the trunk of my car to all these hairstylists in Oakland. And the deeper I got into that, that’s when this thing started to percolate in my head. And it didn’t start with some sort of affinity to hair or beauty. What really kicked it off was I’m driving around, I’m selling these hairstylist this hair and it’s blowing my mind that they don’t sell it. Right? The volume of this hair that’s moving through these salons is in the billions, but the salons themselves were not the ones selling it. The customers were going to this beauty supply store across the street, buying it and then bringing it to the hair salon and then 95% of all the beauty supply stores are owned by Koreans. So you literally just only have outbound, all the cash is all outbound out of the community. None of it is inbound. We’re just buying it. The stylists are just installing it and putting it in, working with it, but they’re not making any money off of it, and they’re referring all these customers to go over to the store and buying it. So feeding the store, but the store is not kicking anything back.

Jamarlin Martin: Are you doing this just in the Bay at this point?

17:20 — Diishan Imira: Yeah. This is in Oakland, I’m just selling hair out of the trunk of my car to stylists. All great American entrepreneurs, they sell it out of the trunk and I tell people that all the time, you’ve got to sell it, just sell it first. That’s the foundation of everything. If I didn’t go sell it, I wouldn’t know these things.

Jamarlin Martin: People want to get a deck and get a meeting…

Diishan Imira: They want to get a deck and a meeting and go raise $1 million and do all these things and build the website and do all these things before you go get a customer to even validate that you even have a good idea.

Jamarlin Martin: Does that make you more bearish in terms of negative that this economic cycle in tech is going to turn? Because you see so many people out there that don’t care about customers and product and getting validation. They don’t care about profits and fundamentals that there’s a lot of fluff out there in the market and as you know, sometimes that signals that you’re going to have a turn in the cycle that this thing is going to bust.

Diishan Imira: It will bust. And it’s just cyclical because there’s always fluff and there’s always waves and then there’s a buildup of fluff.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re right there in the belly of the beast in Silicon Valley. Do you see a lot of fluff out there?

Diishan Imira: Yeah. Of course. But I always have. I wouldn’t say I’m the best at like reading the macro economic trend and to be able to tell you when the tide’s going to turn and when the thing’s going to pop. But I definitely see is going to happen.

Jamarlin Martin: You see a massive amount of fluff?

Diishan Imira: For sure. And that’s the game, in every game. When the money starts getting easy, then all the little tricksters start coming and try to get it easy. People start coming when the money is flowing.

Jamarlin Martin: Are you seeing any tightening of financing conditions where investors are smartening up and not being as loose with their wallet as they were maybe three, four years prior?

Diishan Imira: No, not really. I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say so. I’m fortunate also to have some fantastic investors that don’t go with whatever the wave is. They’re pretty disciplined about how they do things. Whether the market is this or the market is that, they’ve got the way they will look at and they’ll be more disciplined about the way they look at things, and those who have the most interaction with, but no, I wouldn’t say right now there’s a tightening. Not that I can see.

Jamarlin Martin: Let’s go on. So Mayvenn…

20:13 —Diishan Imira: So I’m selling the hair and I’m just like, this is crazy. It’s like we’re getting robbed. That’s when my upbringing in social justice combined with my hustle mentality sort of converged and I was like, these stylists have all these customers and they have the relationship with all these customers. They should be the ones selling it. If I can give them a platform that made it easy for them to do this without them having to invest capital and manage inventory and all this stuff, we could unlock and build an enormous distribution channel for our products and both sides of me would be satisfied in this equation. I would be helping my community and we could build a big ass business and that really lit me up, that we could do both at the same time. And that’s so much of the business relied on an expertise that I had. I had been building that domain expertise of importing and sourcing from China for 10 years by the time I started this. And that was a critical piece. And so by that time I had really started to understand that you’ve got to choose. There might be what you love and what you’re passionate about. Then there’s what you’re good at and this is what you have an advantage at and the thing that you’re good at and you have an advantage at, in my opinion, is your gift and you invest in your gift. And so that excited me. Who else can do this? I don’t know any other like Black dudes that speak Chinese and go to China and can do all this stuff and can work the street level.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah, I read that you even had stylists in your family, so you had some education in your family about this business. When I was reading your story, I’ve known this about other entrepreneurs, but I felt like you were the only one in the world that could build this business because of your history, your family.

Diishan Imira: And that’s how I felt and that’s how I pitched it. And I felt like because of that I was even more obligated to do it. If I don’t build this thing, who else is gonna tie all these different things together? Who’s going to pull China together with the streets, with Silicon Valley and the Black community who’s going to pull it all together. And I just happened to have this amazing constellation of experiences and resources to be able to do this exact thing.

Jamarlin Martin: Most of the hair comes from India.

Diishan Imira: I think the misconception is that. India is not a mass exporting and manufacturing economy. China is the manufacturing and exporting… their entire infrastructure over there is set up to make shit and export it, right. Which is an incredible amount of infrastructure. So India doesn’t have all of stuff, all that set up the way that China has it set up. So the way the hair business works is the majority of all of that hair, comes from India, but it gets shipped to China as a raw material and then the Chinese factories turn it into the finished goods, and then export it out of there.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re kind of putting the stuff together and you start figuring out kind of what Silicon Valley’s about. How do you get your investor meetings?

24:13 —Diishan Imira: Man, I’ve just been so fortunate, man, to meet amazing people along the way who have just pushed us forward. But it was this friend of mine who I’d met around that time who was working at, Zynga, and Zynga just went public and he was saying he was really into what I was trying to do and he’s like, “Yo, I’m gonna give you 15-grand.” Something happened or whatever. He couldn’t do it. There was a bunch of stuff that went on there and he called me. He’s like, “Hey, listen, I can’t do it, but my mom, I told my mom about it and my mom is like, I don’t even know him, but I’m going to give him $15,000 to do this. He has to do that business.” Another Black woman that put me in the game didn’t even know me and said, that needs to exist. And she sent me $15,000. So now like all this stuff’s piling up to where it’s like I’m the only one who could do this. I’ve got people who don’t have a lot giving me a lot. Okay. So I’m just sticking with it, this is it. I’m taking this thing all the way. I’m obligated. And that’s what excited me. So, I got that first, that was like $40,000. And then I went to all these pitch events. So I didn’t really know anything about Silicon Valley either by this time. So I knew that my next kind of big hurdle was crack that, so go figure out Silicon Valley. And I looked at Silicon Valley like it was China. It’s another culture. It’s another country I’ve never been to. They speak a different language which I need to figure out. I need hit the ground and figure out how they talk so I can figure out what their culture is. Right. And when I say how they talk, I don’t mean how they pronounce stuff. When you learn people’s languages, you learn their culture, you learn things about what drives and motivates them and where the origins of certain ideas and beliefs and things that they have. A lot of that can be learned from the way that people talk and the conversations that are had. And so, I would just go to every tech event. I just went to every single one. I would just sit there and I would just listen. I would listen to the panels and listen to how they talk about business. And how they talked about marketing and how they talked about sales and how they talked about product and lean startups, and all this kind of stuff. Started learning these ideas. I’m starting to see how they see the world.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. For the audience. What year are we in here?

Diishan Imira: 2011 or 2012. So then that led to me saying, okay, I’ve got to put a deck together and sort of understanding that the idea was, go and try to build some sort of little prototype of this thing to demonstrate it could work at all, and then put that into a deck, and then go and try to talk to these guys. I started my first process of trying to make a deck and a lot of that was throwing out all the shit that I had learned in business school, because business schools don’t really teach you about Silicon Valley and that culture of business there. I was used to like, okay, I gotta make a 40-page business plan. In Silicon Valley I need a 10-page deck with as few words as possible, show me charts, graphs and the relevant information. And for me to just get excited that there’s an opportunity here and then we go. So I had to relearn that and simplify what is in my mind, I’m thinking of all the different moving parts or whatever and they’re like, “I don’t want to see all that shit. Give me 10-page deck.” So I started doing that. I went to the Oakland Small Business Development Center and they helped me for free to make models to make the deck. Meanwhile, I started going to these pitch events. When I got the deck complete, I would start to go to pitch events and start learning how to pitch. And I turned out to be very good at pitching. And I would even win some pitch events. The first pitch event I went to, I won. But then people on the panel were like, “That sounds amazing, but I don’t know anything about Black hair, Black women. I can’t invest. But I support you.”

Jamarlin Martin: You get a lot of like, the market’s too small. White folks, it’s a niche.

29:15 —Diishan Imira: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of that. Definitely a lot of that. and unfortunately I think that the the words Black women…

Jamarlin Martin: Double niche.

Diishan Imira: Yeah. And in the mind of the mass culture, Black women, it’s minimized all around when in actuality Black women not only economically a supernova in size, but then just culturally drive so much of everything that we do. That was always very frustrating because people would just instinctually be like, “Oh, it’s small, it’s niche.” So there was a lot of that and a lot of like, “I don’t get it, but I like what you’re saying, it makes sense, but I don’t know anything about this world, so I can’t give you any money, but I’ll support you. I know this other guy go to this pitch event or whatever.” So people were doing what they could within the confines of what their comfort levels were with stuff. So ultimately somebody who had been on three or four of the panels that I had pitched at and he’d become a fan, a champion of mine. He’s like, “Yo, I want you to win so bad. I cannot invest because I just don’t know anything about this shit. But I know one crazy motherfucker who might do it, and his name was Dave McClure.” Dave McClure was the founder of 500 Startups. So he introduced me to Dave McClure and applied to 500 Startups. And then we got into 500 Startups in early 2013.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. And what does that package look like for the audience?

Diishan Imira: At that time, they give you $50,000 and you give them 5 percent. They give you $50,000, office space and they will line you up with investors for the next four months to try and pitch and raise money. So for me, 500 Startups was really the kickoff because I didn’t know investors, and to have networked and tried to meet the number of investors that I had that I met in 500 Startups would have taken me forever. So it really truly was an accelerator. It accelerated me. When I got into 500 Startups, they helped you put the pitch together and they said, go research all the angel investors out there. Get on Angel List, make a list of 100 investors, bring it to us and we’re going to make intros for you to whoever we can. That was priceless. They put me in front of the audience that we’re trying to get to. And so by the end of that summer, we had raised like $850,000 and the $40,000 that we had going into 500 Startups, there was like $6,000 left by the time we got into 500 Startups. And they gave us another $50,000.

Jamarlin Martin: So you leave 500 Startups and you raised more money right after that, right?

Diishan Imira: Yeah. Over the next year we raised another million and a half.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. How many investors did you pitch to to get that million after 500 Startups.

32:43 —Diishan Imira: That million and a half, it just came. I didn’t have to. Well, after 500 Startups we had $850,000 and we launched the company in October of 2013 by February, March of 2014. We were doing almost a quarter million dollars a month in revenue, maybe a little less, $200,000 a month in revenue.

Jamarlin Martin: So you’re starting to print revenue pretty quickly?

Diishan Imira: We turned this thing on, we jumped on Instagram. The whole business is based on acquiring hairstyles. So we would try to find hairstylists, say, “Hey, I’ll give you a free website. It’s going to have all the inventory and the hair on it. You don’t have to buy any inventory, manage any of it. You just get your clients to buy, we’re going to ship it directly to them and we’re going to give you a commission off everything you sell.” It’s a perfect deal for the stylist. There’s no upfront money. It’s all upside. Right?

Jamarlin Martin: So would it be fair to say your average entrepreneur, they’re going to take that idea, e-commerce, hair, they’re going to take it B2C, that the genius in your model is you’re taking this product and you’re saying, I’m coming B2B, terming the stylists as another business out the gate and I’m building the distribution system.

Diishan Imira: Yeah. And that’s the way I looked at it was building a distribution channel, not a brand, not a B2C brand. To me the power is in distribution and having a platform and then if you have a distribution channel of all these stylists then you could sell anything through that channel, it doesn’t have to just be hair.

Jamarlin Martin: Did you ever think about Mayvenn as B2C?

Diishan Imira: No.

Jamarlin Martin: There wasn’t a pivot early on or nothing. It was just B2B out the gate.

Diishan Imira: Yeah. Cause I was selling it to the stylists, and they were then giving it to the customer. So the way I ever saw it was, you stylists need to be the point of distribution for this. You should be the point of sale for this. You have the advantage, right? You have a relationship with the customer, you should be able to convert that customer better than any place else. I will say that now, where we’re at in the business, we have a very heavy B2C component that we’re doing, we can get to it later, but we’re launching something that’s massive in scale and going to just change the whole game and it’s very B2C but it’s leveraging our entire stylist base now that we’re everywhere. We can get into it.

Jamarlin Martin: Can you share some metrics in terms of the stylists who acquire the opportunity to generate revenue? So you’re creating an ecosystem and of course the stylists are now partnering with you and they’re making money across the United States.

Diishan Imira: Yeah. I mean we’ve signed up over 50,000 hairstylists. You have a very skewed distribution in terms of how much the stylists sell. So you’ve got, like any marketplace, your power sellers, right? And then you have this very long tail of people who just sell a couple of times here and there, they’ll make $50, $100 bucks extra or whatever. And then you’ve got your power sellers who, I think our top selling stylists in a year, have sold over a million and a half dollars of hair, and made $300,000, $400,000 from Mayvenn.

Jamarlin Martin: I read that one of your inspirations was you have people outside the community in Harlem and Watts and ATL who are making hundreds of millions and in some cases billions across beauty and hair, Black beauty and hair, that these folks have been draining value out of the system and we don’t get a commensurate share of that. Can you talk a little bit about how that provided inspiration where hey, we have to start getting some money back in terms of all the money going out to other folks?

37:26 —Diishan Imira: Yeah. And I want to be very clear. So Koreans own the majority of the Black beauty market.

Jamarlin Martin: In terms of the retailers.

Diishan Imira: Yes. And at the distribution level, all the hair extension brands that are sold at the beauty supply store are also Korean owned brands, but they buy it all from Chinese factories, but then they’ll only distribute through their Korea-owned beauty supply stores. The way I look at at things is that okay, they came over here, they saw an opportunity, they took it, they’ve done everything in their power to keep that market and it’s on us to take our market and to participate in our market.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re saying don’t go blame other groups who are trying to eat.

Diishan Imira: I’m saying, if you want to you can, it’s not gonna help you though. The blaming part of it as an entrepreneur ain’t going to get you out of the bed. You’re not focused on doing the shit. Yeah, you can. If you want to sit there and focus on that, go ahead. If it makes you feel better to bitch about it, you could be right. Also, if you want to be right, you could do that. If you want to get to the shit and get the money, you would probably spend less time thinking about that. Also like I said about the Chinese. There’s something to be said for Korean immigrants, after a war, coming to America, going into neighborhoods where they don’t even speak the language, but the culture itself, Black culture is completely different. And setting up shop, you can’t not respect that. I don’t get caught up a lot, it’s not an us versus them. It’s the market that we feel like we should have a share in. Alright, let’s think about how to go and get it.

Jamarlin Martin: Would you say that, whether it’s Koreans or Arabs, or other immigrant groups, Indians coming into hoods all across America, setting up shop, profiting, scaling their retail operation. The reason why they are so successful versus you don’t see Black people, particularly African Americans owning those shops is they have a knowledge of self, in terms of a more intact culture and based on our history in America, we don’t, we can’t reach back and we don’t have a lot of the good stuff that they’re bringing to the table from their country of origin. Would you say that explains a lot of it? It’s cultural.

40:30 —Diishan Imira: Yeah. A lot of it is cultural and there’s an ethos of working together we have yet to develop as African Americans. We still have so much emotional trauma to overcome to get all that fear and anger and shit out of us to be able to just look at one another and not be scared and work together and do it, and pool resources together and be able to think long-term enough to hold out on certain things and not immediately take the fast dollar. You also have to have a long term view. You can only see as far ahead as you can see behind. And we have such little understanding of our history that we also get caught in very short term thinking. We don’t look very far into the future. Chinese and Koreans, from my experience and their culture, they look generations ahead and they’re thinking about that in how they operate on a day to day right now.

Jamarlin Martin: This is part one of my interview with Diishan Imira. Be sure to check out part two. Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!