Ellena Affah is the lead hairstylist and founder of Naturalhairrockss, a company that deals in natural hair. She shares how she started her business with Woman.NG
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US
I’ve always had a passion for hairstyling. I used to make hair since I was little. Back in the university, a lot of people were going natural and had little or no idea about natural hair care and hairstyling. The very few natural hair salons were mostly on the Island, so it was a challenge for many of them as students. So, I decided to create a mobile hairstyling service to ease stress.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?
I honestly love making natural hair. Sometimes, I’m standing for hours styling hair and I don’t even remember that I haven’t eaten or that my legs hurt. I could see someone walk into the room and I’d draw like a million and one hairstyle that would suit her so I just knew this was it
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS WAS GOING TO WORK?
You know I’ve always known from the on set that it was going to work despite the challenges and all .
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?
Personal savings. Basically, I put all my money into my business and profits as well.
HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?
I started making profits from when I started my business.
BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
When it comes to marketing my product or brand, I go the extra mile but then with the help of social media, influencer marketing and strategic exhibitions, it has been a lot easier. I mean my product and service speaks for itself. I’ve had clients call to say, “oh I saw this particular lady wearing this look etc and she said she got it done from you guys, I’d like the same thing done. How much does it cost?” and boom we have another deal.
AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE HIRING STAFF AND BUILDING YOUR TEAM?
Building a team was a gradual process for me, I had to hire only people who believed in the brand as much as I do .
YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTH THAT HAS PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS
I’d say hard work and persistence. When it comes to my business, I don’t relent till I get exactly what I want and I think that has helped me so far.
DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
Not necessarily but on the long run, I had to take some business courses.
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?
Knowing my numbers.
ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?
I’m a very shy person, so it’s hard for me to ask for things and I always wanted to do things for myself.
CHANGE CAN BRING OUT A PART OF US WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED, WHAT NEW THINGS HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE COURSE OF STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
Well, I think I’ve discovered a lot but one thing that tops it all is, I’m more intentional about everything I do now compared to when I initially started.
THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?
You can achieve anything you put your heart to, always ask God for grace and wisdom to continue -My mum.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ESPECIALLY IN NIGERIA?
Be intentional, be persuasive!