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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Sharon Adeleke: I may be Davido’s sister but I make my own money

sharon adeleke ademefun she leads africa

While some may know her first as superstar Davido’s sister, Sharon Ademefun (nee Adeleke) is a #MotherlandMogul in her own right. She is the brains behind Rona Wigs Studio, a business that makes hairpieces and extensions.

Sharon taught herself how to make wigs by watching YouTube videos. She is extremely focused on her business, busting the myth that coming from a wealthy home means a woman doesn’t have to work.

Sharon shares her business and life experiences with SLA contributor Priscilla. She offered advice for anyone looking to start up something, as well as single ladies working their hustle. Sharon also lets us know why by the third year, your business should be able to stand on its feet.

Let’meet the Sharon that won’t pop up in a Google search

I watch a lot of TV. I love watching TV when I am home.

Secondly, you won’t find my kids on the net, I don’t put them on the net. I also love staying at home, I don’t go out much. If I do go out, it must be very important.

I love to cook a lot even though I don’t have much time for it.

What are  your hobbies and how do they influence your business?

My hobbies are wig-making (laughs) and sleeping. Truly, making wigs is my hobby and my passion.

It was a prayer point for me that I do something I love and be able to feed myself with it. I would say that I am lucky, because I wake up each morning with excitement about my work, and it is great.

Why and how did you get into wig-making?

When I had my first child, I was on a lot of bed rest and I needed to make my hair. I found this lady on YouTube and I asked her to make my hair and it was really good. She used closures and they came out nice.

When I had to go back to the States and needed to do another, she suggested I make a wig. But later on, I needed her to do more and she was not coming through so I just told myself, “What is in wig-making?”

I got on YouTube and watched videos of wig-making and pretty much taught myself to make wigs. I made for myself at first, and my friends wanted me to make for them. That was how I got into making wigs.

In the States, I started seriously going to wig-making workshops. The day I had my son, there was this big wig maker, Tokyo Stylez holding a training. Tokyo Stylez makes wigs for the Kardashians, and when I heard about his training, I literally got off my bed to attend it.

I had to ask my aunt to handle things at home.


What was it like at the beginning and which moments have defined your business?

When I started, I was working from home. I had clients and they loved my wigs and its quality. I went for several trainings but even then, they don’t tell you everything. My friend who used to make wigs for me back then even gave me some tips.

At a point, I had taken over my house and my husband basically said, “We have to move you out“. That was how I moved into the shop.

Some of the defining moments of my business have been the times when I wanted to quit and then, I get a flood of orders. I have had other businesses. Right before I started Rona Wigs, I had just shut down one business. But with Rona Wigs, I find myself coming back when I almost want to leave. It’s God who has been making it all happen.

From one person, my staff has grown to seven people. And by November/December this year, we will be two and a half years old.

Another defining moment for me was a time when I had about 150 orders waiting for me and they had all paid 100%. What was nice was that they waited, considering the Nigerian instant gratification thing.

How has your husband influenced your business and how do you balance both work and family?

It has not been easy, especially at the beginning. Most times, I will be gone from about 8am till about 11pm or 12 midnight. Initially,  he complained because of the times I was gone. Sometimes, I didn’t get to see my kids.

I had to do a lot of placating, but he picked up the slack at home while I was gone then. He also did the entire work at the new studio for me as he is into interior development.

My husband has always been supportive and that is important. Now, I have learnt to cut back and delegate work. After all the time spent at the beginning training my girls, now I know they can work without me looking over their shoulders.

Although, with the upcoming new project, I know it might be like the beginning again. Now I think my husband knows that it is only for a while till things are on their feet.

I don’t believe you should be a slave to your business. The first 1 or 2 years after take off will be tough. But if by the third year, you still have to always be there, then maybe your success model is not right. Your personal happiness matters because when you are happy, everything around you goes fine.

It’s also important that you have someone who supports your dreams. Many women do not reach their full potentials because they are somewhat hindered by their husbands. So for single entrepreneurs, it is important you marry someone who is aligned with your dream and will help you achieve them.


How has been an Adeleke influenced your business?

It has its advantage and its disadvantage. For starters, people are curious and they want to see Davido’s sister working. So curiosity brings them in first. While that helps in a way, I don’t use that as a base.

I treat all customers alike and while they might not buy something that first day, they usually return another day due to the warm reception they receive from us.

The disadvantage is that people think because of my background, I don’t need to work. They don’t understand that no matter who you are, money can be tight.

I believe God has blessed my dad with his money and Davido with his. This is His blessing for me. Because of that, I have a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to my business. I don’t joke with my money and I keep my focus on my work.

If you can go back to when you started, what would you do differently?

I would start early. I wished I had started wig making really early, but I understand that life is a journey. I had to go through all those other businesses to learn from them.

Now I handle my business carefully. I focus on my brand and learn to set achievable goals for my business.

Also I don’t over do it, like order hair in large quantities and get stuck with products I can’t use. This is one of the lessons I learnt from my previous business. I train my girls to think like me and I can say they are better than me because they do it often.

sharon adeleke rona wigs studio

Is there a bigger dream for Rona Wigs?

Yes! In fact we are planning something soon, even though I can’t reveal it yet.

We are planning something in the next couple of weeks which will cater to our mass clients. Also, I am thinking of how we can train others in the future, as a way of building themselves.

What would you advice a start up wig maker?

Just start!

This is not just wig makers, but for anybody who wants to start up something. Maybe it’s because I am an Aries but I believing in doing something. Start it first then see if you’re cut for it or if it will work.

Don’t just dream or talk about it, start. The journey begins with one step. How do you know of you are cut out for it or you have the clientele or you can cope with it if you don’t start?

So that’s my first advice to any one. JUST START!

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