Ihinosen Ohioma is the founder of Nosen Hair Hub; a company centered around healthy hair care, styling, maintenance and products. She currently owns and manages a hair salon which focuses on natural and relaxed hair services. She also manufactures and retail wigs and hair care products.
Ina chat with Woman.NG, she shares how she started her business.
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US
My business started out of an interest in hair styling while I was in the university. It was quite expensive for students to get their hair done at salons as we had limited income and could not afford to pay hundreds of dollars to look good. I started doing my hair myself and soon after my client base grew. Few months after graduation I decided to move back to Nigeria to fully establish my business with the goal of creating jobs and training young people to gain profitable skills and ensure customer satisfaction.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?
I’ve always had an interest in hair, and I became knowledgeable and skilled enough to turn it into a business. Your hair is an expression of who you are, and I love how I’m able to contribute to a person’s look and how they feel. I chose this route because it is something I enjoy doing, mainly because it involves creating something out of the ordinary.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK?
Moving back to Nigeria tested me in so many ways but when we overcame certain challenges and continued to receive positive reviews, I knew this was it and there was no going back.
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?
Capital was raised from personal savings, family and close friends.
HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?
A couple of months into the business.
BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
Most of our sales have come from referrals and social media (Instagram & Facebook), as we believe one of the best ways to learn about a product/service is through people and conversations.
AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE HIRING STAFF AND BUILDING YOUR TEAM?
It was very challenging getting the right people on the team. For example, a lot of them lacked basic customer service skills, so I had to train them extensively and communicate company values. Now I can proudly say we have the right people who are dedicated, passionate about their work and willing to learn.
YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTHS THAT HAVE PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
My attention to detail has really helped my business. When providing hair services or making products, you must ensure top quality in order to get return clients and grow your business. My customer service skill is another asset that has helped my business so far. There is a consensus that Nigeria lacks good customer service, so it goes a long way when customers feel welcomed, respected and valued.
DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
No, I didn’t but my academic background in Biological Sciences and Sociology equipped me with the intellectual ability to manage my business and communicate professionally. I also constantly do research that contributes to us staying relevant and keeping up with trends in the beauty industry.
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISHED YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?
I wish I knew the importance of documenting everything, no matter how small it may seem.
ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?
Leaving home early to go to university prepared me for this because I was able to learn the importance of being independent and creating a solution when faced with a problem.
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?
I have learnt that I have the ability to be patient, with people and the process.
THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?
“You have to make your passion your life, nobody will see it if you’re not about it”. This was from my best friend. It resonated with me because it made me realize the importance of selling myself and my business in conversations, you never know where your next client or opportunity will come from.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ESPECIALLY IN NIGERIA?
It is important for women to develop research skills to stay current and relevant. Time management and work-life balance are also essential because our society demands a lot from the woman, so we must try to balance all our responsibilities appropriately to avoid burnout.