Ming Lee: “You’re Not Snob Enough for the Mob” (Full Blast Magazine)
BY DEV GILLESPIE
When you hear the word “snob” you probably think of some stuck up chick that you use to hate in high school, right? Well, Ming Lee is here to tell you differently as she builds her hair empire as the Snob Mobb. Throughout the last two years the Atlanta based hairstylist has been building an unbelievably loyal clientele of lovely ladies that she refers to as her “snobs”. Her snobs are made up of confident young ladies all around the country and outside of the United States who are bold and beautiful women supporting self worth and self image. Ming Lee has been working incredibly hard to build her brand behind the scenes in Atlanta and it is most definitely paying off!
As Ming is entering this new stage in her career she is on one speed and that is “Go!” Located in Midtown Atlanta at Salon Ramsey’s, Ming Lee is expanding her brand to reach women everywhere. With the launching of her own boutique called the “Snob Closet” and launching her own “Snob” hair products Ming Lee still finds the time to give back to her community. Recently serving as a panelist during MixShow Live Atlanta’s “Building Your Brand” panel Ming Lee is letting it be known that she is nowhere near one dimensional. She has styled models, rap artist, and some people you have seen on your TV screen; but her main focus is building her empire and staying loyal to her snobs. We spoke with Ming Lee about how she came up with her Snob Politics, how she plans to stay relevant, and her new and exciting business ventures!
FULL BLAST MAGAZINE: Ming you recently had your 2 year anniversary of doing of hair. When did you decide and know for sure that was your passion in life?
Ming Lee: I actually went to school for it about 5 years ago. I was waitressing in the club and I was making so much money that I was like I can just do this on the side. I started feeling like I wanted to start a career.
FBM: I know you donated the proceeds you made on your anniversary and you are always out doing charity work to help people. What are some of the organizations you’ve contributed to?
Ming Lee: The organization that I give to mostly is a branch of the YMCA. It’s like a women’s transitional home where they house families that either lost their home or hit bad times. They helped the moms get jobs and get on their feet. You can stay in the home for up to 18 months and 30% of their income they give to the YMCA, but the YMCA just holds it for when they’re ready to leave and be on their own so they have some start up money for their new homes. Also once a month my friends and I get together and feed the homeless on Peachtree and Pines at the men’s homeless shelter.
FBM: Everybody wants to be a “Snob” Ming! You have turned the saying into a good thing and a brand. Explain what a snob is and how you came up with the concept?
Ming Lee: To be a snob it is mostly to do with your confidence and alter ego. You know when you get all done up and you feel like “I’m her!” or “This is it!” A snob is like your inner you and your alter ego. It’s confident and it’s bold. You know when you get dressed and you’re looking super cute you’re just like ” OMG this is it!” (laughs) It’s an everyday thing and it lives inside of you. I just do things different. I was like 19 and my brother came to visit and I asked my brother to make me a sandwich. I just cannot eat bread crust and he made me a sandwich with bread crust and I’m like “I can’t eat this. It has bread crust. Can you please take it off?” He was like “You’re such a snob!” So I told my brother I’m going to start a company and he asked what I was going to call it and I said “Snobbish Politics” and that was really the beginning. It came from my brothers and sisters calling me a snob and I’m not a snob I just like things done a certain way. It’s not a bad thing if you know what you want you should ask for what you want. Why settle for something you don’t want?
FBM: I saw that you were a part of panel for MixShow Live building your brand. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs trying to build a brand?
Ming Lee: The best advice I have is that you’re never done working. You have to stand 100% behind your brand and never let up. You should always be on “go” and know only one speed and that’s “go”! I’ve only been in business for two years and nobody knew who I was unless I made them listen. Sometimes you have to make people listen. Of course if you have a good product people will come, but you have to actually go hard for yourself. You have to play like you’re losing all the time. Even if you’re winning you play like you’re losing and stay humble because there is always someone coming for your spot.
FBM: The Snob Closet is starting to launch. What type of pieces will you be selling and what made you want to expand into fashion?
Ming Lee: It’s kind of crazy how I came up with this idea. I’m kind of psycho. (laughs) I got my wisdom teeth pulled and I literally sat in the house for three days by myself and I was just like I’m going to start a boutique because I was cleaning out my closet. I was finding Jimmy Choo shoes and Fendi shoes and things I’ve never worn or only worn one time. They’re shoes I bought and they’re still in the box so I was like I’m going to sell them. I know I’m never going to wear them again. I was going to just put them on EBay, but then I thought of making my own site. I got on “godaddy.com” and started looking up what wasn’t taken. At first I wanted to call it “Shop Snob” because it was easy and catchy, but then I walked back in the closet and was like I’ll just call it “Snob Closet”. I started off wanting to feature different designers like local designers because I’m all about helping people. I met the girl who is now basically running my website and she has a lot of connections with LA show rooms and New York show rooms where I can get a lot of popular brands and pieces. I started buying from the show rooms and that made it easier. I also connected with Angel Brinks and we worked out a deal to where I can feature some of her items on my website for exclusive pieces. That’s how it came about and I want it to be affordable so the most expensive thing is probably around $300. I want it to be a site all girls can go on. I want it to be one of those “go to” sites to get something cute.
FBM: I know you have some clients within the music industry. With your hair styles and clothing closet coming out could you see yourself being a celebrity stylist?
Ming Lee: No, that’s not really something I desire to do. I’ve been offered the opportunity to be a part of someone’s “glam squad”. They were doing a TV show and it just doesn’t make sense for what I want to do over all. I LOVE my clients. When I say I love my clients I freaking love my clients I couldn’t even leave them. I thought about it. I was actually flying around with someone and I was missing clients and thinking that they’re sitting in other people’s chairs was just annoying me. I can’t turn my back on 100 people for 1 person, you know. I’ll come and do a shoot or if a celebrity is coming to Atlanta. I don’t really have a desire to be on a “glam squad” because I love my clients. I have girls that drive from Tennessee or fly from Ohio to come and see me. Girls come from DC and California I like meeting those girls. That’s why I’ll never call myself a celebrity hair stylist. I just do “Snob Hair”. I’m trying to build an empire myself so I can’t run behind somebody. I have a brand new business as far as the “Snob Closet” and I have a Snob product line that I’m working on. I can’t stop, drop, and roll for one person. I think it is a great opportunity, but it isn’t something I desire.
FBM: What has been your biggest obstacle building your brand?
Ming Lee: My biggest obstacle is trying to stay relevant. As far as haters or competition I welcome all competition. I actually like competition because it makes me go harder. If I see someone doing better than me or winning I like to see that! It’s almost like “Okay. You’re doing this and you’re winning. Well I got something for you.” I love all competition. It’s enough room at the table for everybody to eat. That’s what people don’t realize. The only requirement is that you bring your own chair. You have to stay consistent. I pride myself on trying to stay consistent and stand behind my product.