We first met Loretta De Féo when she was booking bands at the Sebright Arms a few years ago and when we heard she’d left that life and was launching her very own, much lauded vegan beauty product, Dizziak, we had to go find out more…
Say now Loretta, how did you go from booking the Sebright Arms to being a legit entrepreneur?
I was made redundant from running the Sebright music venue after the venue was sold at Christmas 2016. I went on to spend five months looking for a new job in music. I spent all day every day looking and applying – nothing came through. One company offered me a job and then completely ghosted me after I asked when they would like me to start. I supported myself with the little savings I had, ebaying mine and other peoples clothes and doing any small jobs for friends that I could. I didn’t eat out, go out or go away – I was living off below minimum wage. It was a really low time. I had always wanted to start my own hair brand and after the constant stream of knock backs, I one day made a decision to stop looking for a job and to work on it full time. I knew if I could get the product made, I would be in a stronger position to get investment. I also knew that the brand I wanted to create still didn’t exist and that there would be a market for it. I also felt that when Ted Draws (one of my fave artists) agreed to design the branding, it was a big sign of validation.
So then you just went for it?
I used my remaining savings and maxed my credit card to get it to sample level. There was a long period of formula iterations before we found the perfect ingredients and fragrance. I sampled it on around 40 people with varying hair types and the feedback was always that it was the best conditioner they had ever used. I put together a brand proposal and approached the investors I wanted – it had to be them because I respected their business acumen and liked them as people. By the time I received the investment at the end of November 2017, I had everything ready and prepared – the direction, the manufacturing, the branding. I worked solidly on it over the Christmas period with an aim to launching it in March.
You used to be a beauty contributor at Stylist – were you secretly researching what was wrong with competitors or did your time there amplify the fact that there was a gap in the market that needed filling?
My time at Stylist definitely amplified the fact that there was a gap in the market. I was asked my opinion on certain products and asked for product recommendations and I either really struggled or still didn’t see a brand that represented me and my beauty and lifestyle passions. I was shopping for skincare and make-up at stores such as Liberty, Cult Beauty and Beauty Mart, but having to either import my hair products or go to run down hair shops in Hackney – I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a brand to fit my wants and needs.
How long has it taken you to get from idea to launch?
So long! I had the idea around 10 years ago, five years ago I started thinking deeper about it and the past year I finally made it happen. It’s been a very long and exhausting process, but I never had any doubts about whether it would work or not. I never once looked at other hair brands to see what they were doing – I stayed focused on what I wanted to do.
Why call it Dizziak?
I wanted to put some love back onto my hair. That’s why I called it Dizziak – it’s an aphrodisiac for the hair. I spelt it like that because I knew that the letters would be visually impactful once Ted got his hands on it.
So why’s Dizziak different?
Dizziak Deep Conditioner offers incredible moisture and unrivalled damage control without resorting to harsh chemicals. Hair is left feeling nourished, smooth and weightless and free from any lasting residues – a true industry first for deep conditioner. There hasn’t been any compromising when it comes to the product. Everything had to be perfect – the formula, the texture, the branding, the fragrance and it was essential to me that the conditioner was vegan. What’s more, there’s no need for heat to aid absorption cutting down both heat damage and ‘wash day’ time by at least 30 minutes.