Even if you’re not yet familiar with De’Shaun Chancy’s name, you’ve likely seen her work. Since starting her hair brand Dare to Have Hair in 2012, the Delaware-based entrepreneur has been taking the hair industry by storm, one wig at a time. Thanks to her line of quality wigs and extensions, celebrities like Lizzo, Dreezy, and Candice are able to pull off all of those head-turning looks. Remember Lizzo’s retro ponytail at the 2019 American Music Awards? That was Dare to Have Hair.
And if you’re one of her more than 39,000 followers on Instagram, you’re probably already aware that working with celebrities is just a quarter of what she does. With her own flagship store and salon, her product line Dare Care, and her own self-published book, Chancy is well on her way to building a successful hair empire.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Chancy over the phone to discuss her love of hair, working with Lizzo, and her advice on picking out a killer wig.
The Tease: We have to start from the beginning. At what moment did you first fall in love with hair?
De’Shaun Chancy: That was probably at an early-on age, when I was like five or six. It was to the point that I used to talk in the mirror in my grandmom’s living room and just play with my hair. So, throughout her house she had mirrors that she kept eye level to where I was because she knew that’s what I like to do.
Also, I was always very particular about how my mom did my hair. I needed all my ponytails to be equal in size and so I was always into my hair and beauty.
What inspired you to start your company, Dare to Have Hair?
I had worked for Bank of America for about seven years and I was fired. I was getting unemployment for about two years, to the point where I actually got a letter from President Obama saying that I couldn’t get unemployment anymore. At that point, I was like “Oh my god, what am I going to do?”
I was already spending a lot of money on getting my hair done all the time so I said to my husband and my mom, “What if I started my own hair business?” I kind of said it jokingly, not thinking that it would be something even attainable or possible. They were like, “Do it!” So, I spent a lot of time researching and Google-ing and I actually started it. In a short time, I had products. I told my hairstylist about it. She bought it and she loved it. From that point on, it turned into an actual business that grew very fast by word of mouth as well as social media. It ended up becoming a brand.
Given your love of hair, did you ever consider going into the styling route as well or did you know that you solely wanted to work on the business side?
I never actually knew that I would be running Dare to Have Hair. That wasn’t my goal when I was younger or my dream of what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a lawyer growing up as far as my childhood dreams. Dare to Have Hair kind of happened organically but I never had a desire to do hair.
I read that in your first year, you started with just $300 and you flipped it to $360,000 by the end of the year. That’s an insane amount of growth. How did you do it in just a year?
I think from working in corporate America, customer service and quality work was always instilled in us. I carried that with me when I started my own company. My level of expectation that I would want for myself, I put that into every sale, into every email, and into every communication, as much as possible.
But I think it also really has a lot to do with my principles and the way that I persevere. Even when I got scared and didn’t think that I could be where I am now, I still remained prepared. Not for the sense of growth, but because I never wanted to let people down. I always had products in stock, even if at the time, it was only five extra pieces of hair — just so that I would never have to turn someone away.
So, just me having these types of principles helped my business to grow unknowingly. By the end of that first year, with how much money I had made in sales, my tax agent was like “ at this point, you need a CPA and you can no longer be a sole proprietor. You need to look into being a corporation or an LLC.” So, I had to level up.
Now, a couple of years later, you have your own flagship store and salon, your own line of hair products called Dare Care, and you’ve even self-published books. Throughout all of these new additions to your business, what do you think has been the key to your success?
I would definitely say that the key to my success, first of all, is my faith in God. But it would also be the fact that I persevere. When I hit a brick wall, I don’t let it stop me. I figure out what I need to do to go through that wall, around that wall, or knock down that wall. I don’t just give up easily and fold. I’ve had so many challenges as well as successes with my business but I never let the challenges defeat me. I always surrounded myself with people that when I felt defeated, they would remind me of what I’ve already accomplished and how much more I can still accomplish if I just keep going.
You spoke of facing many challenges. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced on your journey?
I would say myself. I’ve had to overcome my own personal fears and my own personal perceptions of what I had for myself or what society would say that they have for me. I never went to college. I was a teen mom. At some point, I had to drop out of high school and then get a GED. A lot of times, it was a mental thing. Some people think that with the hand you are dealt, that you have to stay there and that is all life has to offer you. I had to constantly overcome that and know that everyday I can set the tone for what I want to be and what I want to achieve. So, my biggest challenge was just overcoming myself mentally and breaking the expectations that I thought were set for me. In doing that, I was able to take my company to the next level.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, you’re also a mother. How do you find balance between your work life and your home life?
It can definitely become really challenging at times. I just try to do my best and try to give whatever needs attention, the best attention that I can give. One thing that I can say about being an entrepreneur is that it gives you a lot of freedom that you don’t have when you are working for someone else. So in that area, I’m able to better manage things that I did when I was working for corporate America.
At that time, there was no real balance between the two because I was locked into a timed schedule. By the time that I got off of work, my kids were basically in bed. So at that time, I felt like, “Oh my god! My kids are not going to even know who I am because I’m just constantly working.” Being an entrepreneur now, I do have the freedom of doing whatever I want to do with my kids and my business. There are times when my business is busy and my family life is busy but I just try to alleviate some of the pressure off of myself and onto other people that now I can trust with doing the work for my company.
One thing I noticed with your company is that you have a really strong brand identity. You call your customers your “Daring Dolls” and yourself “That Daring Chick” on Instagram. What makes someone a “Daring Doll” or “Daring Chick”?
It’s funny because when I first started Dare to Have Hair, I created a statement for the brand. One of the lines was that “a daring girl was a girl that didn’t set standards for herself – who overcomes those standards that people put against her. She could dare to be whoever she wanted to be.” When I look for brand ambassadors or when people come to me wanting to represent my brand, I look for that. I feel like a daring person is someone who’s just unapologetically who they are, no matter what anybody else thinks. Even if that person isn’t there yet, I want to encourage them that they can get there and that they can dare to be whoever they want.
I love that you have this whole identity for who your brand represents. Speaking of your brand ambassadors, you’ve worked closely with Lizzo over the last few years, how did your relationship with her come about?
It actually came about through her hairstylist [Shelby Swain]. I met her a few years ago at a networking event in California. I can be very quiet sometimes when I’m around people that I don’t know but she was very outgoing. She talked to me the whole time and she made me feel super comfortable. We exchanged information and that was like several years ago.
One day she reached out to me in regards to Lizzo. It wasn’t even from a brand ambassador point of view but just on a customer level. I think they were in like Germany or somewhere and they needed hair. They needed it immediately and my company was able to supply that. So from that point on, we developed a relationship. Back when the world wasn’t how it is now, she had concerts and she invited me and I actually got to meet her in person. She’s a very beautiful person. If there could be a picture to represent a “Daring Doll,” it definitely would be Lizzo.
I couldn’t agree more. She embodies exactly what your brand stands for. Over the years, she’s worn so many different, iconic hair looks featuring Dare to Have Hair. Do you have a favorite look of hers?
I love when we did the purple hair on her. I love when she does the natural look with the curls. I love when she did the two pigtails. I think that was my absolute favorite because I actually went to the hotel when they were styling her hair.I was like you should do it in two ponytails and it came out so amazing.
Your hair installs have also been spotted musicians like Candice and Dreezy. How do you build up your celebrity and influencer clientele?
A lot of times, it’s through social media. Either the person themself will reach out to us because they want to try out the hair or sometimes their management will reach out. But most of the time, it’s really the person themselves just reaching out to us.
Who’s one celebrity or influencer that you would love to see wearing Dare to Have Hair?
I would say Beyoncé and Rihanna.
Having been a part of the hair industry for so long, why do you think women now are more open to experimenting with wigs and extensions then maybe they were a few years ago? Have you noticed any trends?
It’s so funny that you say that. A few years ago when Dare to Have Hair first started, closures, frontals, and wigs were all accessible but most people didn’t want them. We were still at a time when women would have extensions in their hair or weave but it would be this big secret. It was like, “Don’t tell anybody that I’ve got a weave!” or “This is my real hair”. You know you may have had an Auntie that had a little secret stash under her sink that nobody knew about – not even her husband. Now, we’re just more open. I think it just had to do with the changing times and because a lot of celebrities have made wigs more known.
Speaking of wigs and things of that nature, what is your biggest piece of advice for anyone interested in purchasing a wig or hair extensions?
I would say take baby steps and make sure that it’s something that you’re comfortable with, especially if you haven’t worn a wig before. Maybe start off with just building a couple of bundles and having your natural hair out and then work your way up to a wig. It definitely has to be something that you’re comfortable in. The only way that you can pull off a hairstyle is through confidence. Confidence is everything. Also, make sure to take care of your natural hair as well. It’s very important.
Do you have any personal favorite pieces from your site?
I definitely love the flexibility and the fullness of our frontal wigs. I love full lace wigs too but I’m a fan of big hair so I always end up adding extra hair to that. I love the frontal wigs because they are so easy and convenient to just switch out. To be totally honest, I’m infatuated with hair so I love all of it. You can change up your look and come home and your husband is like. “ Who you are?” You can do color. You can do natural, You do curl. You can do kinks. You can do whatever you want to do.
What’s next for you and Dare to Have Hair? What are your future plans?
I definitely want to expand more. I want to work with more people. Right now, with the pandemic, it’s been kind of hard. I’m just trying to get through it and make my business as grand as possible with the situation that we’re currently dealing with. I would definitely love to travel more and have different stores in different states and countries at some point.
Is there anything else you would love to share with our readers?
Just let them know that anything that they want to do is possible and achievable. Don’t measure the level of your day 1 to someone’s day 200. Just take things one step at a time. As you do your best, God will do the rest.