The size of Africa’s hair market is just mind- blowing. The demand for human hair is increasing by the day and from this we have seen the increase in the supply of this contemporary ‘ladies’ essential’. We have with us CEO of HAIREXPRESS Premium, Kiba Bam sharing her entrepreneurial experience.
Born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa, Kiba’s heart of entrepreneurship was kindled at the age of 9 when she was working in her parent’s shop. This exposure forced her to think on her feet and be mature enough to handle the business’ finances.
The young lady then moved to Johannesburg to study Clothing Management and from then she was in the retail industry for 9 years. From learning the dynamics of the industry Kiba had sparks of interest to tap into the undiscovered potential in beauty retail. This led to the birthing of her human hair distributing retailer and custom wig making company.
When did you “charter” HAIREXPRESS?
HAIREXPRESS premium opened for its first day of business in August 2015. I started the business by myself in my parents’ house, working from my bedroom. The business retails human hair bundles, custom makes wigs and is a distributor to salons.
When I started I had very limited technology and resources but I was a woman on a mission. Results and progress is all I cared about. I started the company because this was a dream God gave to me. l believe I started at the right time because everything was just flowing and HAIREXPRESS came together.
Initially, I never had funds to start the business but as I said things just worked out for good. I got pregnant and the company l was working for in Joburg started retrenching staff. I was due to give birth to my daughter and decided it would be done in Cape Town where my family is.
In the midst of my maternity leave I got a call to say l was getting laid off. Funny enough there was no panic in my spirit because consciously I did not intend to go back to Johannesburg. This call then meant I would get a retrenchment package of R50k, it came and l invested part of this money into buying my first stock. The rest is history as they say.
What successful ideas have you implemented to boost your business?
Re-working my marketing plan was the best thing I could have done for the brand. As we know without customers there is no business. We went for a total brand revamp. Before I explain what we did, I want to share why we did it.
The reason was we identified our niche target market and we also studied our competitors closely and capitalized on their weaknesses. It’s not enough to have just good hair. We created a lifestyle around the brand. We wanted our clients to desire to be identified with the brand, for it to be a personal thing for them. To love the hair and the woman behind the brand.
Since we have taken this leap clients have been rolling in and we are being noticed by a few media houses for interviews which is great. So publicity tick, customers tick.Re-working my marketing plan was the best thing I could have done for the brand Click To Tweet
Based on your experience, is it better to cut staff or use less expensive products to reduce salon costs?
The best is to possibly reduce the hours of staff but not cut on staff as your people are an asset to the business. The pleasant thing about our business is that the staff rent for space from our premises so it’s a win-win situation. Bringing in labour when it’s most needed and having contractual staff instead of permanent staff.
I don’t have the opportunity to use less expensive products because I sell and distribute a premium product. My brand is everything. My integrity is all I have in the industry and I can allow bad publicity over bad quality. It’s not the HAIREXPRESS premium way.
How do you think your start-up story will motivate other African women out there to start their own business?
It will motivate them because I honestly started something from nothing. We have a very clever God! All He requires from you is willingness. I was willing and hungry to be the CEO of my own multi-national. I’m not there yet but I started and now I’m working my plan.
My strategy is in motion. I want to motivate other woman and say money should not stop you from starting because I didn’t have money. I got retrenched at my old office job. Things worked out, they always do. Endure the beginning stages. They are painful but well worth seeing the growth and change.Money didn't stop Kiba Bam from launching HAIREXPRESS premium @kibabam Click To Tweet
Women need to forget about the noise and focus on their purpose in life. Being the It girl, best dressed, wife to a rich guy is not an achievement. If that’s what you want then great, own it but what I know is we all have dreams given to us by God. Take a leap and just try and try everyday to move closer to the dream. Women need to understand that they are natural born leaders. We are naturally organized and think things through. We always have a plan A- Z. That already is the mind of an entrepreneur.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Being able to transfer your knowledge to other young entrepreneurs and colleagues in the entrepreneurial space. This is a long road that needs focus and determination. The best thing about the journey for me is to see the strategy coming together. I started alone and now I have a very savvy smart business manager who is part of the team.
The business is growing and people are inquisitive about the brand. We are so grateful. It’s also so rewarding to see people buy into the idea and business of HAIREXPRESS. Clients referring other clients, people recognizing the brand and being clear of what we do. Of course the financial reward in the long run will be the utmost best reward.
Where do you want Hair express to be by the end of the year and how do you plan on getting there?
By the end of the year our loan will be approved (March 2017) and we will move into our headquarters (May 2017).
At our HQ, the front of house will be the hair salon with hair dressers, nail technicians and make up artists renting space from us. The back of shop will be the wholesale and distribution center for our salon clients where they will be able to restock for their salons.
Apart from human hair industry being monopolized by the Chinese, what other challenges do you face?
Having constant availability for my clients with stock is a major issue. The turn around time for stock is 10-14 working days per order. I have every intention of changing that, my clients want hair and when they want it they want it now with no delay. So the wholesale and DC will eliminate that problem immediately.
The other problem l faced was separating myself from the competition taking a step back and studying what’s “really” happening in the market and acting on the information collected. Women love convenience and don’t like to change their suppliers. If you are not consistent in your ways with clients they will go elsewhere, and that has been a major challenge.Women love convenience and they don't want a change of suppliers @kibabam Click To Tweet
Apart from being CEO of HAIREXPRESS what else do you do?
My purpose and vision as an individual which also translates into my business is to change lives. Also, I mentor young people industry professionals to unleash their inner potential. I mentor young professionals through personal one on one meetings and group empowerment sessions.
I am fulfilling my passion of empowering young people to unleash their potential also through public speaking engagements at schools and events.
Fun question! What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
I literally would go shopping everyday for myself and my daughter . Everyday in South Africa and once a month on 5th Ave, Harrods and Selfridges. In the past couple of years, the budget has been tight because my money is being invested in my business 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. So I would go shopping EVERYDAY till I get bored of it.
Then would go do my nails and facials every other week. Have a personal Pilates trainer come to my mansion. Then off I go once every two weeks to do body sculpting non invasive surgeries on my stomach and hip area 🤣🤣🤣🤣.
I’ll also go for a boob job (breastfeeding is real out here lol) and do lunch with whomever is available from among my friends. And before I forget travel travel travel. Build a house in Camps Bay, Franschoek, Hyde park and Braynston, buy an apartment at the Marina V&A Waterfront (to live in), go apartment shopping in NYC, Paris and London.
Oh and of course I’ll be driven everywhere in my Rolls Royce. So basically, I’ll look super hot with perfect skin and be body goals for many. I’ll be super on trend everyday and live my dream life. I’ll also speak every other day, give me a golden mic and fill up a stadium and speak to inspire others.
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