Dorinda Mawuenya Matey is a natural hair enthusiast and entrepreneur who turned her love for natural hair into her profession. She started the “We Naturals Team” as a Facebook page to share her discoveries and knowledge about her hair journey. In time as her followers grew, they needed more than just advice; they needed quality products to grow healthy hair. Dorinda saw this as an opportunity to turn her passion into a profession. Currently, her company is one of the leading hair products brand in Ghana and Nigeria. We Naturals has 19 employees and 68 retailers in Ghana, 39 in Nigeria and one in Cote d’Ivoire.
What ignited the spark to start the We Naturals Team?
When I started my natural hair journey in 2011, I was completely lost. I had no idea how to handle my hair and eventually relaxed it again. In 2013, I went back to natural hair, I realized it was much easier this time as I was reading a lot about my hair and experimenting with different hairstyles, products and regimen. On my first anniversary, I decided to start a Facebook page (We Naturals) to share all that I’m learning to help make the journey easier for others. It never started as a business; I was just sharing my passion. The business We Naturals came in after my followers on Facebook started asking about products. I saw an opportunity in there and started selling other brands until I started making my own products.
How did your followers react when you started making hair products?
They were excited and received it very well. We won’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for our very amazing followers and customers.
Our very first sale was made on Facebook.
What was unexpected when you started We Naturals?
Well, I realized people will do anything to undermine others just to get ahead. You have to be diligent not to compromise on your integrity and focus on your goals to keep moving forward.
What creative strategies did you use to acquire funds to start the business?
I had funds from a 3 year life investment policy I started in 2011. Because I had this money, it was fairly easy for me to get going when I decided to start selling products. It wasn’t enough to do everything, but it was a good start.
Did you get the products right on the first try or did you have to do more trial and errors?
We often do a lot of trials until we are satisfied with the efficiency of the product, the consistency, scent, colour etc. We have a production team who make the products, they’re then sent to labeling and quality control before it moves to store.
We experiment on employees, friends and family. We sometimes also request for product testers from social media who also serve as our final testing point before the product is introduced.
Why do you focus on only natural hair products? Do you have plans on making products for relaxed hair?
The company started off with my passion for natural hair, because of that the products were automatically perceived to work for only natural hair. However, most of our products can be used for all types of hair, though in some cases with slight difference in method.
Have you had any formal education pertaining to your choice of career?
Yes I have a certificate in Natural Products Formulation from the USA. I had to learn how to make the products from a credible institution to be able to make quality products. I have experience in business and marketing which come in handy.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love reading positive feedback from our customers. Fortunately about 90% of all the feedback we receive is positive and they come in very often. Every single time I receive a positive feedback, I smile. It makes me really happy because that is one more person we have provided a solution to, not just sold a product.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Our primary target groups are individuals on a healthy hair journey, mainly the natural hair journey and these are people who are looking for results. Our business is built on selling solutions, not just products. We solve hair problems and I believe this is what our credibility is built on.
I am passionate about making the hair journey for all my customers a delight so I always go out of my way to help them find solutions. That is what automatically sets us apart, the genuine passion to make our customers happy always.
Describe a typical day at work.
No two days are ever the same with me. It depends on what needs my attention the most but generally I go over accounts with the sales team and allocate monies for various things that need to be taken care of. I then go into production, mainly supervising and sometime making products myself when necessary.
I handle our social media platforms personally so I am on and off social media throughout the day responding to questions, sharing contents and taking orders. I also check for orders on our website and respond to emails. I go to our store to check on stock and bulk orders going out, as well as inspecting products especially labeling and responding to complaints and other issues.
What difficulties did you face expanding to other African countries? What was surprisingly simple?
The major difficulty we faced and are still facing in Nigeria, is the exchange rate. The Naira keeps falling and we end up losing money through exchange. With the Francophone countries, I will say the language barrier has slowed our efforts but we are taking necessary steps to resolve these issues.
What was surprisingly easy was how quickly Nigerians accepted our products.
What are your goals for the company?
Our goal is to be the number one in Africa not just in product quality, market share and revenue but also in the impact we have on our customers and change caused in our communities.
What habits and mindsets helped make you successful?
We are very dedicated to what we do and do not compromise on quality. When it comes to making products, there are so many short cuts our competitors take to make products smell nice, look good, increase volume etc. that compromise on the quality. We have never and will never do that.
Ultimately, it is the favor of God that has brought us this far. I could have done everything right but without the favor and blessings of God, this would not have been possible.
As a child, was it your dream to start a natural hair company?
No. I wanted to be a pilot, soldier, geologist, psychologist at different points in my life but my real passion is entrepreneurship. We Naturals is not the first company or venture I have started and will certainly not be my last.
Which African Celebrity rocks her natural hair best? Why do you think so?
There are so many amazing celebrity naturalistas out there but I am currently crushing on the Nigerian actress, Omoni Oboli. She enjoys her hair and I love that!