Bessie Duke-Odu: The Flair Hair Academy was born out of my refusal to rest on my oars

Bessie Duke-Odu
Africa has come of age and needs to get industrialized hence sharing my expertise through the Academy Click To Tweet

Bessie Duke-Odu is the Proprietress and Lead Posticheur at Flair Hair Academy (Nigeria’s foremost Human Hair Academy). With a degree in Microbiology, she started off merchandising human hair and hair accessories and in 2010. The Bessie consciously decided to delve further into the research, manufacturing procedures and processes of human hair.

She is Korean-trained by the renowned John Korea Hair School in South Korea. Bessie has also acquired degrees from various institutions in Germany, the United States, China and the United Kingdom.

Bessie Duke-Odu is also a World Bank Scholar, an alumna of the prestigious Enterprise Development Centre (PAN-ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY), a professional member of the Complementary Therapist Association (UK) and is listed in the Embody Magazine UK as a qualified service provider.

Can you tell us what most people don’t know about you?

Hmm…that’s a broad one. Over the top of my head, I’d say my tenacity. I rarely give up on things or people. I’d rather buy furniture from IKEA where I can lay the manual out flat, assemble the bolts and every other fitting accessory and work my way to the finished look.

You have a degree in Microbiology, why did you go into merchandising human hair and hair accessories?

Now, that sounds like two extremes but I guess I naturally flowed to my inherent side. As early as when I was 8-9 years old, I could weave hair and I picked that up by just watching.

At the time when I started merchandising, running the hair and accessories enterprise gave me the ample time to tend my new baby and adjust to motherhood without the pressures of a paid 9-5 whilst still being economically viable.

What lead you to start Flair Hair Academy?

Flair Hair Academy was born out of my refusal to rest on my oars, challenging status quo as it were. Essentially with the knowledge acquired over time, floating a range of wholly made in Nigeria hairline would’ve been exclusive to me. But Africa has come of age and needs to get industrialized hence sharing my expertise through the Academy.

What’s one thing about your industry that you didn’t expect before getting into it?

As the progenitor in this, it has its first mover advantages as well as disadvantages. Acquiring knowledge has been hugely capital intensive. Nonetheless, every accomplishment begins with the decision to try as successful self-actualization lies just outside your comfort zone.

Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try - Bessie Duke-Odu Click To Tweet

You’ve been trained in South Korea, China, Germany, and the United States, can you tell us a bit about that and why you decided to choose these countries?

Absolutely, I realize that knowledge is power but it takes my enthusiasm to keep pulling that switch. From my research, I discovered that Korea played a huge role during the early years of world industrialization especially after wig making moved to the East.

All the named countries have what is unique to them and I am glad to give enrollees a good mix. As an ardent learner, I never restrict my self-development to capital or anything else. I would rather trade in my phone or other paraphernalia to learn a new skill than to walk around with all of that unskilled.

I also recognize that going to YouTube to feed off all sorts is an option but I made a conscious and informed decision to research and invest; knowing that a small amount of knowledge can mislead people into thinking that they are more expert than they really are.

I'd trade in my phone to learn a new skill than to walk around with all of that unskilled Click To Tweet

What kinds of services do you offer?

Our bailiwick is in training, handing down well-researched hair manufacturing skills to people who value their development. We train people on how to set up mini hair factories, improve existing salon services, upscale human hair businesses from just buying and selling to production capacity thus reducing to the barest minimum importation on finished hair goods into the country/continent. We also offer contract manufacturing to hair vendors.

Our courses include

  • Machine Wefting,
  • Wig Making,
  • Human Hair Texturing,
  • Hackling,
  • Wig posting,
  • Preparation of raw hair,
  • Handtied Wefting,
  • Human Hair Processing and
  • Human Hair dyeing.

We have an upcoming Wig Making Workshop this July and enrollees will learn the history of Postiche, how to ventilate a closure, frontal, full wigs, create templates, lace repairs and so on, all from scratch.

We help them develop their value proposition and build a sustainable business model canvas. At Flair Hair Acamedy, we have had enrollees from Cameroon, Kenya and within Nigeria. Practically anyone (novice or hair guru) can go through our training and learn the ropes effectively.

What do you think makes Flair Hair Academy different from others?

Simply put, our resolve for greatness and constantly outdoing ourselves.

What movie did you watch recently that stood out to you?

Aww…. Definitely “Me Before You”. I teared up and got very emotional. It is a must watch. Look for it!

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Nathacia Olivier: The right place, the right product

@OlivierNathacia noticed that women like strong role models & used this in her strategy Click To Tweet

Indoni is an African-woman owned company based in Ekurhuleni that produces skin and hair care products made from 100% natural ingredients, food compounds and essential oils that contain healing properties. 

The company firmly believes in the “essence of natural African beauty”. The word “Indoni” is a Nguni, isiZulu name inspired by the realisation that the beauty of a woman is curved in her naturalness. Nathacia Olivier has always believed in being beautiful the natural way without having to spend thousands of rands on things that will eventually burn, damage and agitate the skin.

SLA contributor Goitsemang Mvula recently caught up with Nathacia Olivier. She asked about a subject that is vital in business, especially a product based company, product placement and development

How wise is it to ‎opt for an intensive distribution with the type products that you are selling and also breaking barriers in international distribution?

It was really hard to come up with a distribution strategy that would attract people and also push them to earn more for themselves each day.

Going international is challenging when you consider factors such as shipping, communication, currency, advertising and the likes.

Indoni Range

indoni range

To what degree does the using an influencer such as Miss South Africa, play a role in attracting customers?

I noticed that women love anything and everything that has to do with beauty and fashion. They also follow strong female role models. Liesl Laurie, Miss South Africa 2015 (2nd Princess) is a very good friend of mine. Her agreeing to become part of Indoni was an amazing opportunity as she also feels very strong about being natural.

“Indoni” is an isiZulu name inspired by the fact that the beauty of a woman is in her naturalness Click To Tweet

Liesl also does a lot of talks related to women, hence she immediately connected with the vision that Indoni has. Getting her to the skin retreat bootcamp attracted a lot of women, her support made them want to use Indoni products and become part of the team.

Nathacia Olivier

Is it advisable to use consumer testing on your friends and family before you go out to the markets?

Testing is one process that has been giving me a headache ever since the inception of Indoni. Yes, we started testing the products with family, friends and myself —I loved the results that came out.

Nathacia Olivier: We started testing Indoni products with family, friends and myself Click To Tweet

At the moment, Indoni products are not tested yet women use the products. We are still busy working on that. We are in the process of getting all the products tested by next year.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Webinar with Nibi Lawson: How to start a natural hair brand with your pocket change (Jun 15)

Nibi Lawson

Don’t miss another event! Join our community and always stay informed.

Team Natural in the house!!!!

Natural Hair

But how much money are you spending on products to keep that puff, right and tight?

We’re all about people embracing their natural beauty but black hair is a $50b industry and even though young black women are the main consumers of these products, we unfortunately aren’t the creators. International conglomerates dominate the market and are making money off of the hair that we’ve been pulling, twisting and toiling with for centuries. We need more young African women to enter this industry and create products that not only help us look good but create wealth in our communities.

Join us on Wednesday June 15 for a candid discussion on how you can build your own natural hair care brand and take advantage of this beauty boom. If you have a passion for beauty and hair, what is stopping you from turning that passion into a viable business and becoming your own boss!

We’ll be chatting with Nibi Lawson, founder of The Kinky Apothecary, the first natural hair care store in Nigeria. The Kinky Apothecary sells a variety of brands including their own private label, so Nibi knows exactly what customers are looking for as well as how to make your products attractive to potential stockists.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to perfect your recipes and start creating products from home
  • Where you should source your ingredients & packaging
  • Understanding the testing phase and really knowing how effective your products are, product safety, quality control/consistency, and determining what products to market first
  • How you should think about branding and making your products stand out
  • Getting products to export grade

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Wednesday June 15, 2016
  • Time: 10:00am EST // 3:00pm WAT // 5:00pm EAT


About Nibi:

With a background in Finance, Nibi Lawson started The Kinky Apothecary as a hobby in 2010. Aiming to fill the huge gap in the market for suitable chemical-free products for women who had made the decision to go natural, this quickly developed into a fully-fledged business and the company has now started rolling out concessions over Nigeria. In addition to supplying products, The Kinky Apothecary also organises frequent workshops, originally hosted by Nibi but now expanded to include a slew of guest natural hair experts, in an attempt to educate women about their natural hair, as well as a host of new projects and a product line under development.