In July, Detroit became the largest municipality in the U.S., by debt and by population, to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. A city that's more than $18 billion in debt might seem like the last place you'd want to start a business, but the dire financial circumstances of the Motor City couldn't crush the dreams of its resident entrepreneurs. One of those entrepreneurs is Miranda Jade Plater, a recent college graduate who founded Limelight Extensions less than a year ago while still in school.
Limelight Extensions is an online company that aims to give women "confidence, style and power" with their purchase of a high-quality hair extension. Limelight hand selects the premium hairpieces it sells from Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Peru, and provides a variety of lengths, styles and textures. The company was the product of Plater's lifelong entrepreneurial ambitions and her frustration with the quality of hair extensions available.
"I love hair and beauty, but I couldn't find a business in Detroit to satisfy my needs," Plater told BusinessNewsDaily. "I figured other people felt the same way, and came up with a business plan."
Miranda Jade Plater, Limelight Extensions Founder Credit: Limelight Extensions
Plater said her mother, a serial entrepreneur herself, provided not only the inspiration for starting the company, but also the funding and mentorship Plater needed to get it off the ground, especially while she was still taking classes to complete her college degree.
"It was hard to build a company while I was in school," Plater said. "I was ready to hurry up and get out. My mother was a big help, but I wanted to be in a position to run my company where my mom didn't have to do anything. I wanted to take charge and be more in the lead."
It was this indomitable determination that led Plater to grow her business to the point of securing a retail location just outside Detroit. Plater plans to launch a local advertising campaign for the upcoming grand opening, but over the past 10 months that Limelight has been in business, social media was the key to the business's marketing success.
"Social media has been our main source of referrals," Plater said. "Word-of-mouth advertising will take you a long way. People who try our hair love it. They come back for more and tell others about it."
Because she was raised in a philanthropic family, Plater made sure her business plan also included a charitable component. Through Limelight Extensions, the young founder and her mother contribute to numerous local nonprofit organizations, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles Wright Museum and Focus Hope. Each month, Plater's company also gives a free makeover to one deserving woman in the Detroit area.
When it came to the decision to share her profits with the local community, there was never a question for Plater. Her family, she said, instilled in her the belief that she should always be moving forward and reaching out to those in need. Plater considers herself very fortunate to have had so much support, and giving back is her way of living out a personal philosophy: "To whom much is given, much is required."
In light of the economic circumstances, Plater also wants to serve as a beacon of hope for her home city.
"Detroit needs a positive side right now," she said. "I want to help out, give back and inspire people here to do the same."
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.