Money Flow is a series intended to understand how entrepreneurs within Africa interact with money and how it affects the health of their businesses.
Tell me about your business.
My business is a hair company focused on making hair extensions for black hair. So we produce hair that matches black hair texture. I am talking about 4c, 4b, 3a, 3c, etc. We also produce hair modelled after straight, relaxed hair. We provide protective styling options. Our products include wigs, ponytails, and clip-ins. My company helps black women live their best life.
Is your business your full-time job or side hustle?
It’s full time. It started as a side hustle though but as we scaled, I decided to commit myself 100%.
Can we talk about the journey from side hustle to full-time business?
Before I started my business, I worked as head of digital marketing at a digital marketing agency. The experience was good for me. Because of my job, I was always interested in online communities. I tested the products my business created on one of the communities I was developing. It was a brown girl page where I posted things about black beauty, skin tips, inspiration, you know stuff like that. The company was supposed to be a side hustle. Although I knew that it was the kind of thing I wanted to spend my time doing. As we grew and demand grew, I decided I wanted to commit fully to it so I resigned from my day job. Also, I did not want to waste my employer’s time and salary. You know when you are doing something exciting, you think about it all day. I felt like it wasn’t fair to keep going to work every day when all I cared about was my business. Plus, the business was scaling to a point where I knew it needed devotion.
What was your financial background like?
My dad was a consultant and my mum was a businesswoman but financially, things weren’t stable. You know how business is; earning isn’t steady until you get to a particular level. Sometimes things are rosy and other times, things are just there. It’s why I won’t say I was born with a silver spoon. My parents were just able to afford the necessary things and at times, they had to go out of their way to afford those things.
What is your history with entrepreneurship?
Funny but true, I always thought entrepreneurship was never for me. I always pictured myself working in the corporate world. My passion led me to entrepreneurship.
I love authenticity in terms of culture. I mean, the good parts of culture and who we are as black people. I felt that it was important for us to embrace our roots. Also, I have always liked online branding, marketing, and community. It is evident in the way we have grown my business. We have a community first policy. We believe in uplifting black women so we share Do-It-Yourself tips to help black women live their most authentic life.
How did you get the idea for the business?
I started by solving my own problem. I wanted to wear hairstyles that looked just like my natural hair, but there were hardly any options in the market. I created protective hairstyles for myself and a lot of people liked them, including black women living outside Nigeria. It was clear that I could scale this product by leveraging on a network of hairstylists–give them access to a global market and help them make more money.
How much did you have at the start of the business?
I started with $1,000.
How much does your business make every month?
We currently do $20,000 – $40,000 in revenue monthly depending on the season of the year.
Tell me about your journey so far? Lessons, mistakes, and goals.
I have learned so much about marketing and customer behaviour. The tea about entrepreneurship is that you learn every day. Some days are better than the others and you have to keep your head up. It would be a mistake to spend time dwelling on something that can not be changed. As an entrepreneur, you can not afford to wear your heart on your sleeve. The ultimate goal is to be one of the top brands catering to black beauty.
Have you ever received a grant or loan?
Yes. At the start of my business, I got a loan from my friend who is now my husband. He gave me $500.
Are you open to sharing equity?
I am open to sharing equity with investors. That would be in line with our vision as a company. As we grow to reach more markets, we would need more money and then we would be open to sharing equity with investors. There is no rush though. When it’s time, we want to be sure that both parties have value to offer.
What’s your pricing structure like?
We are an analytical company. This means we factor in the entire journey of getting the product to the customer and based on other factors, we decide how much profit we want to make on the product.
What would you say about doing business today in Nigeria?
It can be better.
We need an enabling environment. We have an infrastructural problem in this country. If we have better infrastructure, definitely things will be better. An example is the transport system. Customers could order for something in Abuja and get it the next day. If Nipost was more efficient and more affordable, we would be able to ship worldwide with them instead of these private companies that are much more expensive. Also, I would say more transparency with funds available at banks. Another thing would be businesses sharing their journeys so that people can learn. Instead of the typical God’s grace. I know that God’s grace plays a role but there are still practical steps that people can learn from.
What’s the biggest challenge you face doing business in Nigeria?
Banking and Logistics. We receive lots of payments and banks are not as friendly to small businesses as we would like. Also, managing the delivery schedule is quite difficult.
What’s the costliest mistake you’ve ever made?
A photoshoot I did but I eventually didn’t use the photos because they were below standard. It was at the beginning. We did not have proper mood boards for the shoot. After the shoot, I knew that the pictures were not the kind I would like to share with my customers and community. It was costly to discard those photos but it did not fit into our brand and we could not sacrifice that for anything.
What financial advice do you wish you knew at the start of the business?
Start small and always test your ideas before going full scale.
What’s your favourite quote about money?
The Money wey we get e no go finish o. It’s a line from a Wizkid song that I find funny and deep.