Shopify traveled to Tulsa to tell the stories of merchants who are reinventing Black Wall Street for the ecommerce age. Read the rest of the series here.
In many ways, 27-year-old DaKira Taylor, who also goes by Redd, had already made it. After graduating with a computer science degree, she built a six-figure career in tech consulting. But something was missing. She felt spiritually called to leave her family in Texas to start over as an entrepreneur in Tulsa, Oklahoma—which she would soon discover was the cradle of Black Wall Street.
Fast forward three years, and DaKira now has a profitable skin care empire across multiple Shopify sites. With two of her businesses, by REDD Beauty and byREDD Wholesale, she provides both direct-to-consumer and private label products through popular offerings like turmeric rose body bars and lavender coconut facial toners. What started in her Tulsa apartment has since expanded into an 800-square-foot warehouse, where she ships to customers around the world, many of whom follow her on social media. With her waist-length red braids and ombre coffin nails, she films videos where she teaches basic skin care techniques and explains the purpose of each ingredient.
Below, DaKira shares what she’s learned along the way and her hopes for a bright future in Tulsa.
ON CONTINUING A FAMILY LINEAGE
“When I started with wigs, doing hair was always in my blood. My dad, before he passed, was a great barber—his name was all over the city of Dallas. And my mom, even though she didn’t do hair professionally , had her beauty license for years. So hair was a really big part of my life. I started doing my own hair when I was in high school. In college, other people were asking me to do their hair. business in college, but I didn’t consider it a side business at the time.
ON EXPANDING HER LINE FROM WIGS TO BEAUTY
“I started up in the summer of 2018. My first business was actually called Wigs by Redd. I was selling custom wig units and custom color units around the world. Once I moved to Tulsa in December 2019, I decided to add beauty products and cosmetic products like false eyelashes and lip gloss byRedd Beauty, at the beginning of the pandemic. Then I started formulating my own skin care. And now that’s what byRedd Beauty encompasses.
In 2021, my crazy self decided to do wholesale too. People were asking, ‘Do you sell this in bulk?’ So I just decided to sell the same products I was selling, just in a larger quantity.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BRAND POSITIONING
“When I was trying to start that first business, I had no idea what I was doing. I actually invested in a business coach. It was somebody that I knew personally, but he’s had multiple businesses and he helped people start businesses kind of like what I’m doing now. He helped me understand brand positioning and different things like that. Wow, I’ve been learning this stuff for almost half a decade now.
Now, I try to teach women—and some men, too—to understand the foundations of having a long-term type of business and getting it out of the hobby stage. You need to understand your brand. Yeah, it’s nice to have the cute logo and the colors. But what does that actually mean? How does your brand sound to strangers on the internet who have never seen you before? How are you going to set yourself apart from these big brands inside of Target and Walmart?
Make sure that you have the foundation before getting the cute packaging and things like that. That can always change. How you set yourself apart inside the industry is what’s going to keep your brand everlasting.”
ON THE CHALLENGES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
“Entrepreneurship looks very glamorous, but it’s not. Even if somebody’s making a million dollars a day, there’s still so many things that are being worked on in the back end to make sure that they can consistently uphold that type of business.
On an everyday basis, it’s a very crazy roller coaster for myself, especially since leaving my job. This is real life. It’s just a different type of life. People just don’t understand that you have to really be built for this type of world. Everybody’s not meant to be a business owner. Everybody’s not meant to be a chef or a rapper or a teacher. You’re really called to this type of life. Having a business and trying to make a lot of money sounds really nice, but if you are not willing to go through more bad days than good in the beginning, you’re not going to make it. It’s not going to happen for you. But when those good days are there, they’re really good.”
ON WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER, IN PRIVATE LABELING
“Even though I’m still mainly a one-woman show, my experience in school and in my job really taught me the value of processes and automation. When it comes to private label for wholesale, I made sure that I had a whole system set up to where things are being sent automatically.Because that’s just going to help me and it’s going to be very beneficial when the time comes to just train somebody.
I’m an advocate for work smarter and not harder. There are people who just want to be the face of something, and that’s OK. Everybody’s not going to have the drive to want to do all of the work. So let me do most of the heavy lifting for you, teach you all the foundational stuff, or make the products and label them for you. And all you have to do is just apply the teachings I just gave you. You don’t have to worry about trying to formulate anything, see if it works, or about trying to design something.
When you think about it, Kylie Jenner and Rihanna are not in their kitchen or their warehouse making products. They’re using private label. So why not start off with the same mindset of those big people? There are smarter ways to do stuff. I’m just trying to help people the best way. And if that’s alleviating some of their time, then I’m cool with that.”
ON THE ENERGY AND IMPACT OF WORKING NEAR BLACK WALL STREET
“Tulsa’s just way smaller than people realize. But that also is a really empowering thing as well. If you know one person, you know everybody in that group. I’ve met a lot of different people in different industries, mainly artists and people And the way that they love their city and love Black Wall Street is just a different type of love.
When I’m in the area—because Black Wall Street is downtown—there is an energy shift when you get more downtown or on the north side of Tulsa. I know somebody, a tattoo artist, who has a business that’s on Black Wall Street. I can feel how important her artist is to her, especially because her shop is on Black Wall Street.
I’ve talked to people who have grandparents that were around then. I can see through the people that are from here how important it is. And if they’re able to try to keep the legacy alive 101 years later to people that weren’t here, then I feel like I’m getting that through them.
I’m just glad to just be here. Even though it’s not how it used to be, of course, people are still trying to keep that vision of Black Wall Street alive. I’m just glad that I’m here to witness it. And hopefully be a part of it as well. Because I’m not here for no reason.
I’m trying to join more women entrepreneur groups and go to pitch competitions. I’m definitely trying to get more involved and plugged in. Since all my businesses are online, I can live anywhere. It’s not like I need to be here physically, but I would limit myself if I did not try to create a local network.”
ON PRIORITIZING SELF-CARE WHEN IT GETS TO BE TOO MUCH
“I get tired. I’m tired every day. Self-care looks really different for me. I’m a big TV watcher. I just love TV. I’m probably one of the youngest people that still has cable. Sitting on my couch is really relaxing to me. In my apartment, I have one room office specifically for working.
Sometimes I’ll leave and go hang out with my sisters, because I do have a family here now. We may go to the park or out to eat, not talk about work. I’ve been working on that for the past year. Just resting. Because if I just keep going to keep going, I’m going to get burned out. I know what extreme burnout feels like. I’m trying to give myself the time to recuperate, no matter what that is.”
ON PLANNING FOR THE NEXT DECADE
“The work that I’m doing now is going to set me up for when I’m 30 or 35. I don’t really try to put time limits on goals, but by 30, I would really love to purchase a piece of land out here in Tulsa, or like the outskirts of Tulsa, where I can build my personal house and a workspace.
By 35, it’ll be great to just really be an overseer of everything that’s going on with byRedd Beauty and byRedd Wholesale and have a completely passive and evergreen course for Redd’s University by that time. I’m just trying to do things now so I can slowly stop working as the years go on.”
This interview has been condensed and edited.