By Afea Tucker
Winning QVC & HSN’s “Big Find” international product search has been a dream come true for Carla Clarkson.
“When I was in the kitchen making my product, I had these dreams of course. I always envisioned creating a brand that would reach the level of being featured on HSN one day but, I didn’t see it coming to fruition in this way. It’s definitely a dream come true,” Clarkson said.
Clarkson, a Philadelphia native and owner of the Links Studio in Old City, was one out of thousands of applicants who won the “Big Find” pitch competition in 2019.
However, her product reveal on HSN was delayed due to COVID-19, pushing her initial release date from July 2021 to February 2022.
“There was a pause because of COVID-19,” Clarkson said. “Raw materials were challenging to obtain in almost every industry. COVID hit the world hard.”
Now that Clarkson’s production is back into full swing, her winning product — “HONEYBLOWOUT” — will officially launch across the HSN platforms this month. As part of HSN’s Black History Month programming, Clarkson will be celebrated on the “Wake Up Beautiful with Valerie’’ show. The episode will also feature Carol’s Daughter founder, Lisa Price and inspirational speaker, Iyanla Vanzant.
“I was shocked and overjoyed when the judges handed me a “big ticket,” Clarkson said. “I couldn’t help but to think of my mom and aunts, and all of the people that order from HSN regularly. And now my family can watch and order from me.”
QVC & HSN “The Big Find” is a global search to find the next big brand in beauty, fashion, accessories, and jewelry. The international search provides a unique opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs like Clarkson to take their marketing and management to the next level. After earning a “big ticket,” participants are invited to continue their product discovery journey with QVC or HSN, which includes meetings with merchandising teams and committing to a vigorous quality assurance process before brands are launched across company platforms.
“It was a little nerve-wrecking, if you can imagine,” Clarkson said. “I’m excited to be a finalist and then the day that I was scheduled to meet with the judges there were at least 100 other women also waiting to see the judges and present.”
“It’s just me and my product and my script, and as I look around, some of these other women have full sets for their presentation and they have posters and backgrounds,” she added. “All I had was myself and a bottle of HONEYBLOWOUT.”
Clarkson’s “big ticket” winner product, HONEYBLOWOUT is a “pre-poo” — a beauty product that is smooth like honey which nurtures the hair before shampooing.
“During my presentation, I also shared my inspiration behind the product line,” Clarkson said. “I think the judges were elated to learn that it was my grandmother. My grandmother is a huge part of my success. I’m a second-generation hairstylist, and it was my grandmother — who was a hairstylist and entrepreneur — that inspired me. Following her footsteps, we’re both graduates of Bok High School in Philadelphia, where we earned our hair licenses.”
One of Clarkson’s main focuses for now is to further connect with the HSN audience.
“I want to connect with ‘her’,’’ Clarkson said, referring to her targeted audience.
The product was created for women, but it works on men as well.
“My goal is to connect by introducing this concept of pre-pooing and providing women with a quality product to include in their hair-care regime,” Clarkson said.
Clarkson has over 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Her experience ranges from styling hair on film and commercial sets, editorial shoots, and fashion shows, to day-to-day salon management and operations. She’s worked on movie sets like Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” and styled various celebrities including Tessa Thompson and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
When she isn’t servicing her clients or working on her product line, Clarkson mentors and teaches high school students. She provides real-life and hands-on experience in her salon through a partnership with the Big Picture Academy. The goal is to employ students as salon assistants. Learn more about Clarkson on social media @CarlaClarkson.