It's been brewing for a while but it seems the cat is well and truly out of the bag, Natural Hair is big business I caught up with founder of 'The Business Of Natural Hair Workshop' Jacqui as we talk hair & Business.
Natural Belle: Tell us a about yourself?
Hi, well I'm based in the Midlands, and currently working on a couple of ideas - one of those being The Business of Natural Hair Workshop™ and Lovefro - 'another' range of haircare products for curly hair. Outside of that, I am training to be a 'women of the cloth' and fancy myself as the 'black alternative' to Nigella Lawson - The one and only Domestic Food Goddess!!! (you can connect with Jacqui @lovefrotweets)
NB: What is the business of natural hair work shop?
Well, the workshop - taking place on Saturday 14th July , is primarily aimed at budding hair care entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, who maybe omitted market research from their business planning stage and who want an overview of the natural hair industry, and the potential within. Those with a general interest in the market can also attend, however it is designed to add value to those individuals who want a piece of the market. Helping us through the day, natural hair care entrepreneur Margot Rodway-Brown, of Adornment365, will be joining us as a guest speaker, to share her thoughts and experience of the natural hair care market as well as Susanne Goller of Optimus Research Services, who will talk about the importance of market research, and cost effective ways of gleaning as much information about your product/idea as possible.
NB: how did you come up with the idea?
The workshop was borne out of research I was doing for my own brand, Lovefro. The research generated quite a response, and throughout its duration, people contacted me showing interest in what I was doing and what the outcomes were, so I decided to create a workshop to share 'some' of my insights.
NB: who should attend such a seminar and why should they?
Anyone,with a general interest in the nature of the natural hair market, and those who have or are thinking about starting their own natural hair business and wants to add value to their idea. Why? because, every business needs to understand the nature of the field they are entering, as well, how to position and define themselves within the market they wish to enter. Its also important to attend, so as to find out how to conduct your own primary research. My research will give a general overview of the market, however, there is nothing like engaging in your own primary research, which when conducted properly, gives you a depth of knowledge about your target group, that serves, as a solid foundation to build your business from. and a better chance of success. I heard a well know motivational speaker - Dave McQueen say recently, 'Hope is not a strategy'. i.e we don't start a business 'hoping' that it will work! Business like anything else needs to be built on a foundation of research and planning, so if you want to to give your business/brand the best chance of success, then, take a Saturday out of your busy schedule, love and value your idea and join us on the 14th July 2012.
NB: how would you describe the natural hair industry in the UK
Burgeoning! Yep a real opportunity for those individuals, who wish to approach the whole notion of business, in a professional, thought-through, well researched and financed manner. That isn't to say that your 'natural hair idea, can't be a success on a shoestring budget, but, if you want to be a top money spinning brand - which is possible, then, that is going to to take time and money. We must remember, (cause sometime we forget) that the natural hair industry is a extension of the cosmetic market which is worth billions, and we need to be taken seriously by them, especially here in the UK. If we don't do our research, if we don't think about something as simple as packaging, if we can't be bothered to invest our own money in our own ideas and self development, why should the wider industry take us seriously? All the general cosmetic companies will do, as well as the big retailers and anyone bothered to capitalise on a trend, is jump on the bandwagon, and take 'our' business out of our hands. This is our time, our hair, and we need to recognise and own it as such, without any apology!
NB: How does it compare to the industry in the USA?
Clearly, those of us who subscribe, tweet and follow, will be aware that they are leaps and bounds ahead of us. They have several hugely successful haircare brands, natural hair care salons, main-stream retail uptake and innovative entrepreneurs like Felicia Leatherwood, which have all served to set a precedence for us in the UK. Indeed it is a larger market, and despite what the media and music industry portrays, many are far more conscious, of what natural hair represents in terms of identity and blackness, which does help the cause of natural haircare entrepreneurs. To sum up, they have been at 'the whole thing of going back to their roots longer', and maybe for different reasons - i.e not just as a trend which maybe the case for some in the UK. However, there is nothing wrong with trends, if it gives us an opportunity to think, and act differently - taking possession, of what God has give us in more ways than one and doing something to boost the 'black pound'
NB: The black pound/dollar is a term I keep hearing, how important is it to you that we support black business?
Incredibly important, but with the proviso, that black business is being conducted and presented properly. For me there is nothing worst than parting with your hard earned cash, to a person/business that does things shabbily, and well below excellent. Some may wonder what I mean by properly and/or excellent? Well, a business which has thought things through, and is on par with any other mainstream brand/business, even if not in the same retail spaces. A brand/business that I can be proud of; where customer service and quality matters. I believe, if 'more' black businesses approached things from this perspective, the 'black pound' would carry more weight in the wider economy, and create a level of self sufficiency amongst us, that we so desperately need. Some may say, that you need money to operate at that level, but personally I don't think so. Once again, vision, creativity, planning, research, good interpersonal skills, customer service, and a strong emphasis on quality, amongst other things, will cause black businesses, to be worthy of our hard earned cash and respect in the business world.
NB: Without giving away all the great tips you'll be sharing at the seminar, what are the main criteria for starting your own natural hair brand?
Research, research, and did I say research? its imperative to understand the market, and where you want to place yourself within that market. Ask yourself, what kind of 'natural' entrepreneur do you want to be? how you define your brand from the start will determine where you sit in the market place. Think about it, all well known brands are a mixture of facts, thought, content/quality and a large amount of perception. Brands don't just happen they are created!
NB: Will the seminar just focus on starting up a product line or will it look at the other aspects of the industry such a PR & Social media?
The seminar on the 14th July will concentrate on the the market and the opportunity….. more will be revealed shortly, with those who attend the 'whole' seminar in the 14th, having priority at other events.
NB: We can't not talk about our favourite subject hair! How has your natural hair journey helped you develop your line loveafro?
Well, BC, and going natural, has not only been the inspiration behind the brand Lovefro, but it has totally transformed my life, in ways I could not imagine. I mean this is a whole other talk/interview, but I really am astonished how something which i wanted to do for a while, and seemed so insignificant when I did do it, could actually transform my life to this degree. Amazing.
NB: again without giving it all away, What can we expect from the line?