We had the good fortune of connecting with Justi Embree and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justi, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
What’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
The entrepreneurial world is always a case of “feast or famine,” so basically, every part of me has been tested in some way or another. Honestly, to choose just one thing is really tough, however, I must say that there is something to be said for sitting in the driver’s seat. Being in a position that requires you to make all of the choices offers you the unique opportunity to live or die by your own sword. And trust me, I have definitely fallen on a few sharp blades.
During the early part of my career as a hairstylist, I resisted making choices that would lead to any type of risk. I decided that I would depend on others to help me move forward while working as an independent contractor. I depended on my clients to make word-of-mouth recommendations. I was good. Really good. So, they recommended me to their friends and family, giving me a stable income and helping me to retain a booth. I love what I do, but truth be told, this dance was not going to end well. I knew that I was not living to my full potential and that physically one day, my body will tire out, and then what?
At this time, I always had different ideas in my mind about starting a business but never had the guts to take the leap of faith. These ideas seemed like a distant dream, and the thought of potentially risking my finances and stability often seemed too overwhelming. But the seed was planted during this time, and these ideas stayed with me while working as a hairstylist. I loved my job, but I always knew there was something more out there for me.
It is so elusive, the idea of being in charge of your own destiny. I thought I was running a business on some level as a self-employed person, but realistically my only asset was my ability to physically perform. If I could not work, I would have no income (the famine part and the biggest downside of entrepreneurship.) This was my predicament. So, it was time to stretch.
Stretch what? Everything.
What happened for me is that I came to believe that I could have more. I realized that I had choices and I could make good ones. I had been playing small, and I was getting in my own way. It wasn’t overnight, the change, it was gradual, and it took time. Sometimes, when you know better, you can do better. So, I decided to stay committed to one thing. I founded Embree Theory (embreetheory.com) in 2013. “Embree” is my last name, and “Theory,” represents the 20+ years of experience I have of studying women of color’s hair types and innovating hair pieces for those women. Embree Theory went from an idea in my mind to reality, and as it grows, it continues to enter uncharted territories. We are up for the task. We are making some small waves, but those are the ones you’ve got to watch out for. They’ll catch you off guard and knock you over every time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love to create. I express my creativity through hair. I am most proud of that I followed my heart, that I didn’t choose my profession for profit motives. It was simply my calling and I obeyed. I really feel I didn’t do anything to get where I am. I just kept showing up. I have been consistent . It hasn’t been easy though, even when you love what you do. Actually, especially when you love what you do because you are connected to it on a spiritual level. Its personal. I’ve learned to overcome my challenges by facing them, that has been what has worked for me.
Ive gotten a lot of life lessons through entrepreneurship but the most important one is that I am only as fit professionally as I am personally. Meaning, I take all my childhood and relationship trauma with me in business too. So, I have invested in a great therapist to keep me out of my own way. Theres no shame to my game. Managing my fears and emotional balance ranks high on my self care agenda. I make my best decisions when I have peace of mind. That is a fact.
Everybody has a story. Some things happen that we have no control over. My life has been mostly about healing and channeling that growth in a way that I can have peace, experience joy, and make a little cash. Embree Theory will outlive me. Many of the movies that I have been involved with for example The Best Man 2 or When The Bough Break will be enjoyed long after I’m gone. I am grateful for my gifts and talents but mostly for being able to share them with you because every time I see that smile form from a happy client or that little raised eyebrow that says confidence, I know that no matter what deck I have been giving in life, still I RISE! I hope that everyone who chooses embreetheory.com for there wigs and hair pieces can feel all the perseverance and love that went into it, when they wear our pieces, because its definitely in there. A lot of it. Its a good vibe.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hot Girl Summer Itinerary Period. Day 1
Stay at the Montage in Laguna because LUXURY EVERYTHING!
Breakfast in bed.
Lounge by the pool.
Thrift Shopping at The Citrus Collective in Laguna
Dinner @ The Penthouse Santa Monica for a little roof top dining
Beach Day! (South Beaches Only!) less crowds
Hike in Runyon Canyon
See Hollywood Bl.
Take a ride up the Palos Verde Peninsula to Lighthouse Park
Top off the day at Terrenea Spa and take a stroll at dusk to one of the many restaurants to catch a bite
Dinner at Mastros in Newport Beach
Day 7 Shopping on Rodeo and brunch at the Four Seasons
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to all the vibrant women who I have had the opportunity to salon talk with. I appreciate the therapeutic value of our conversations throughout the years. It has been my clients that have kept me going on the hard days and when life shows up. Since, I don’t have much family, these relationships have been so rewarding, uplifting, and inspiring that I feel full. It is the women that will hold your hand but gently let you know when you messed up a little bit. For them I am most grateful to my creator.
Amina Tourney Louis Reynosa