Salma Abdulatif – The Hair Nurse: I kept trying till I got Salummy right

Salma Abdulatif was born in Malindi and raised in Mombasa, Kenya.

She studies Marine Business Management at Moi University, and she is a Cohort – 15 graduate of the Young African Leadership Initiative, a programme initiated by former President of the United States, Barrack Obama. Apart from that, writing and poetry have been her forte all through her life.

She also enjoys motivating youth and creating innovative solutions to complex problems which she does through her Community-Based Organization, Motivational Talks for Youth (MTY).

Salma recently ventured into Natural Hair Oil business – Salummy and she takes us through the journey of being a hair nurse.

 Why did you decide to create natural hair products and how did you transform that into a business?

After listening to my friends complaining about stunted hair growth, dandruff, ‘rough hair, weak hair etc…. You know all those problems girls have with their hair.

The problems did not just end there, there was also the issue of hair products which promised to take care of the mentioned issues but most of them failed.  

Personally, I have tried all types of hair oils that I could lay my hands on and I found it difficult to get that one particular oil that I could constantly go back to and this was when I realized that I could be the solution to this problem.

After a number of trials and errors, I was able to come up with a particular oil that I used for some time and there was a tremendous improvement on my hair in terms of texture, color, size, volume, and strength.

I am a Muslim, so I cannot carelessly flaunt my hair all over the place. One day, as I washed my hair, my cousins noticed the change and asked for the secret behind my beautiful hair. After sharing it with it them, they also tried it and it worked!  

That is how Salummy hair oil was born.

Friends kept on asking for the oil, and I realized I couldn’t keep giving them my oil for free, and I slowly transformed it to my side hustle. I moved from making the oil to shampoo, hair conditioner and even beard balm for the men.

Where do you get the ingredients for your oils? Are they natural? 

I mostly use organic products ( chemical- free)which is a combination of carrier oils, herbs, and essential oils which when mixed together can be a perfect combo to more moisturized, longer, softer and thicker hair.

I use black Jamaican castor oil, curry leaves and lavender essential oil as part of the products I use in my combo.

I source all my raw materials locally and I get my bottles from Nairobi, in a plastic industry.

Who are your clients, and where are they located?

Most of my clients are natural and transitioning ladies but I also have a significant number of relaxed ladies who still find my hair oil helpful to their hair mainly in terms of reducing on hair loss.

I have a big market base- I have clients from Mombasa, Kajiado, Nairobi, Kilifi, Lamu, Zanzibar, Daresalaam, Nakuru and even England.

What has been the feedback since you launched Salummy Hair Products?

The feedback has been overwhelming. When I first started, I did not have a good response and I had to go back to the kitchen time and again to work on my recipe and to keep trying until I had the right proportion for all hair types.

There are so many entrepreneurs out there selling natural hair products, what makes your brand unique from the rest?

My brand is unique because I give the clients exactly what their hair needs.

You will find most brands promising so much and delivering little but I have always tried to test my products with my own family and friends before taking them out to the market so that I give the people what they really want and not what I envision for them which might sometimes come out as an illusion of expectations not met.

The first time you use a natural oil, you already can feel and know if it works or not. This is the beauty of it.

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail - @salummy_salmun Click To Tweet

What challenges do you or have you encountered?

The main challenge has been to grow the business by myself.

I have so many suppliers and ambassadors but I am still the entrepreneur and the head and it can sometimes come out as overwhelming especially since I have to deal with so many orders.

The other challenge I face is introducing new products that my clients need like shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, and even soaps. I am really trying to take it easy and go as per my capacity. But I eventually know that I will have all these products out sooner or later.

I am also thinking of adding partners in the company and a personal assistant to help me in distribution and marketing.

What is your advice to young women entrepreneurs who keep dismissing their business ideas with doubts and fears?

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail. Businesses do not grow in a day, it is a combination of effort, determination, consistency, and creativity.

If you have all these with you, your business will speak for itself.

Article by Rumona Apiyo.

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