When Remi first went natural, she struggled to find hair extensions that could blend effortlessly with her kinky natural hair. So she teamed up with her hairdresser to make her first Afro wig and pictures of her wearing it sparked a conversation about natural hair on her Instagram page. Remi realised that her desire to wear afro-textured extensions was a desire other black women shared. With this insight, she started Natural Girl Wigs– a game-changing African hair company.
This article is about Remi’s incredible journey and insightful lessons you can take away from her experience with Natural Girl Wigs.
What was your life like before you started Natural Girl Wigs?
Before Natural Girl Wigs, I worked in digital marketing and communications. When I started my business, I was recently promoted to Head of Digital Marketing for the agency I was working for. So on weekdays, I worked 9-5 and when I got home, I would sort orders. It was tough but I knew I wanted to do this.
How did you know it was time to go into business full time?
I was waiting for a green light that would signify that it was time to leave my job. That green light was the number of orders I was getting daily. Once my orders started getting to a number that could sustain me financially, I had an honest conversation with my boss, who is also my friend and I told her that in three months, I was going to leave.
What is one misconception you think people have about starting a business?
One thing I find that people think is a major challenge is money. I always tell people that money is not a challenge. With the way e-commerce is right now, what you actually need is community. If you have a community, then you have a business. Your community can even fund you to get the products. Let me use myself as an example. When I first thought of starting a hair company, the first thing I was thinking was that I needed to get all the money I could find. That approach failed woefully but when I took on a community-building approach, I saw the impact I was expecting money to bring.
With how crucial community is to your brand, how did you maintain the interaction with your community during the lockdown?
We collect our customer’s emails when they buy from us so when the lockdown started, we sent them updates. We wrote to them to see how they were doing beyond trying to get them to buy from us. I think that exposed us to the human aspect of business and our customers connected with us.
Did the lockdown affect your business?
Not really. During the lockdown, our customers were still buying. One thing about beauty, especially when you are a brand that uplifts others is that people want to be part of a good thing. There is a lot of sad news around the world so people want to be part of something that makes them happy, something that makes them feel beautiful. Even if it is just to go on a Zoom call or TikTok people still want to look beautiful.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to start a business?
- Try to find your potential customer first. Start a page on Instagram and get a feel for the kind of things your followers are interested in. Share your personal story with your community so that they can connect with you. If you build a great community, everything else will flow.
- You need to learn to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. A lot of businesses have potential but people dislike the experience that they have with those businesses. Customer support can make or destroy your business potential.
- Build trust within your community. No matter who you are and what you do, you will surely find your tribe. You don’t have to post things that are not authentic to you because you think it will get you far. Try and present your products well, of course, but at the end of the day, try to build that trust with people. Once people trust your brand, nothing would hold them back from recommending your products, supporting you and coming back again. You want a business where your customers are your marketers.
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This spotlight feature on Oluremi Martins is powered by Visa. Visa’s ‘Where you Shop Matters’ initiative aims to champion entrepreneurs across Africa while encouraging consumers to support small businesses by shopping local. Visa’s initiative is supporting small businesses through the Visa Small Business Hub, a merchant platform providing tools and information on how to start, run and grow small businesses.