3:15 p.m. and the Snobs sound as though they have been playing in hair all day. Snob Life Studio’s continuous goal is to give the girl next door, five-star quality beauty treatment. When a customer enters, he or she, is promptly greeted and directed to the waiting area; which consists of two plush grey stone couches, a grey fur rug, one small circular end table and a coffee table topped with a mirror. A chandelier rests above the heads of those awaiting their crowns beat. The Snob Mobbs’ stations are filled with white mirrors mounted on cream shaded walls and the chairs are aligned with Swarovski crystals.
Snoblife Studio owner Ming Lee is many nights away from months of faithfully passing out one-hundred business cards every Sunday and Monday. The difference between being an employee and a boss is the time that is invested. Ming’s hard work did not stop once the doors to the studio opened two years ago, it has just changed focus.
Rule 1. The first thing on a Snob’s mind is taking care of her investments.
Beginning at 6 a.m., Ming reviews her website and social media analytics (after all, her marketing and branding skills are the foundation of her success). Hopefully the www.Snoblife.com website has not crashed from the mass amount of traffic. The luxury of being her own boss allows Ming the freedom to sleep in a bit more, until about 8:00 or 9:00 a.m.; that is, if there aren’t a slew of emails to pummel though.
Rule 2. A Snob should be primped in full glam to tackle the day.
Arriving in her allure and hair of choice, she is greeted by the Snob Mobb, who undoubtedly asks, “Where are you going today boss?” Most days, Ming’s response is the same, “I’m already here.” On other days she can be seen having a meeting in her in-studio office, brainstorming and executing at least three fresh visuals weekly, and/or preparing for a photo or video shoot.
Rule 3: A Snob knows when to make the final decision.
What’s that old saying, “if you want something done right the first time, do it yourself”? Ming is all too familiar with this principle. She is the brains behind the brand. She chooses what images are selected for Snob Life’s Twitter and Instagram @IAmMingLee accounts, and website, www.SnobLife.com is in her full discretion. The assortment of social media images are chosen by the number of inventory sold after each picture is posted. Images may be repeated endlessly because like any other company, branding is key to any enterprise.
How did an around-the-way girl from Detroit turn her salon in to a million dollar business? Ming gets candid with Kontrol Mag on growing gracefully, Snob Life branding tactics, her family, and upcoming projects.
KM: I recently saw that you were a panelist at the Women’s Empowerment Conference alongside Angela Simmons and Karen Civil to name a few. How does it feel to be on the other side of the spectrum after opening Snob Life Studios just two-years ago?
Ming: Honestly, I was surprised and it felt a little surreal. I was overwhelmed that people actually wanted to hear my story and advice. I’m grateful that I was even asked to be a part of the panel. It was a great experience.
KM: What is a key piece of advice that someone gave you in the beginning of Snob Life that you still use to this day?
Ming: You know, I actually didn’t get any advice in the beginning. I wish I could have had a mentor. Simply because of a lot of the lessons I learned I bought instead of borrowed. But the three things I wish someone would have told me are:
- You cannot please everyone;
- It is important to hire a good team. No matter how good you think you are at doing something, if you are not an expert in that field, you should hire out; and
- The best marketer wins. Make sure that your marketing is second to none!
KM: I have noticed from your Instagram account that your marketing is untouchable right now. I have yet to come across another company on social media execute visuals the way that Snob Life does. The fifteen-second Instagram commercials, mini films and documentaries showcase the hair properly. How does it feel to be the only one in your marketing lane?
Ming: I can understand why I’m the only one, or one of the few, because it can be very costly. I spend the same amount on a video that an artist does for a music video. The next commercial that I am putting out costs about $35,000 but looks amazing. It feels good, but I want other companies to release videos as well because there’s nothing like a good competition. This is a 16-trillion dollar business. There’s more than enough to go around.
KM: Were you trained in marketing? You seem to know a few secrets.
Ming: I am aware of the rules of this game. During middle and high school I was involved in a marketing program, DECA, where I competed and placed nationally. I study different ways to navigate social media mainly by checking my analytics each time I post to either, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter. I spend most of my evenings planning what hour of the day is the best time to post a picture. I equate social media to dollar signs. If my post does not make any money at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, then the following Wednesday I make note to not post at that time again.
KM: How many marketing seminars have you held so far nationwide?
Ming: I’ve held about 15 so far. Half in Atlanta and the other cities were Dallas, Houston, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Vegas and NYC.
KM: That’s amazing. I’m located in D.C., you’ll have to come back out here soon! How is your marketing book coming along?
Ming: Of course. I actually had a meeting about it today. The book is actually done. I have never sold them before, they were solely given out at my marketing seminars. Lately, everyone has been hosting seminars and workshops. The smart thing to do is to capitalize off this wave before it’s too late, so I’m going to mass produce the book and sell it.
KM: The name Snob Life is catchy. Did you know it was going to take off the way it did and what is the inspiration behind the name?
Ming: Initially, it was going to be called Hair Salon, but I couldn’t get it trademarked. My brother used to always talk about how picky I am and would poke fun at me by calling me a snob. As I got older, the name stuck. I was already using the hash tag Snob Life with my personal social media accounts so I ultimately just ran with that. But, I didn’t realize how fast things were going to take off.
KM: How involved is your family within the company?
Ming: They aren’t. Only one of my sisters works with me.
KM: I see how close you are to your grandmother GiGi. How does she feel about your new found success?
Ming: She loves it. GiGi thinks I’m Beyonce. She calls her friends every day to tell them about my new accolades. I know they have to be tired of hearing her talk about me by now, but she is just so proud. I was a little wild child growing up and I know I used to put stress on her constantly. I barely graduated from high school. I’m just glad that I was able to make something out of myself and that she is able to witness it all. She just turned 92 years old. That’s one of the things that I’m most proud of, making her proud!
KM: Speaking of accolades, how have you become acclimated to your new found fame?
Ming: I don’t think you ever really do. I remember when I was on this jam packed elevator and the girl standing next to me was crying hysterically. I was trying to move out of the way because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t realize she was crying for me. I thought she was looking for somebody that was behind me. It was exciting. When you’re working non-stop, you don’t realize what you’re doing and the impact you’re making on people’s lives. I’m still the same ol’ girl from Detroit who wants to laugh all day and watch prank videos in my spare time. I watch prank videos every single night.
KM: With all of this attention, how many times do you get your hair done a week?
Ming: In a good week, I get my hair done once. If it’s a bad week, I would say about two to three times. However, I use the same hair frequently. I create a bond with my hair. It knows how I want it to be curled, straightened or blow-dried.
KM: Sounds like a busy week. I’m guessing during the good weeks you’re using Snob Life Edge Tamer to keep your hair looking fresh. How has the demand been for this product and how involved were you in the creative process?
Ming: The Edge Tamer is doing fantastic. I was actually very instrumental in the creative process. I picked the packaging, colors, font, and I know the ingredients like the back of my hand.
KM: Will it remain exclusively sold on the site?
Ming: Yes, exclusivity is my middle name.
KM: What is one piece of advice you want to leave with your Snob Mobb?
Ming: Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is always someone out there willing to help and propel you forward if you just open your mouth.
Snob Life Studio is located at: 118 Centennial Olympic Park Dr, Atlanta, GA 30313
Follow Ming on Social Media: Twitter.com/IAmMingLee or Instagram.com/IAmMingLee