"Bone Straight" actually refers to a long, straight type of human hair that is popularly bought and worn by Nigerian women. With the hair care business worth 75 billion USD, running a hair care business is very popular, but how many are successful? I decided to have a chat with Chika of The Belle Store to share some secrets about running her luxury hair Care business.
Tell me a bit about yourself and the business you own?
My name is Chika and I’m a fun-loving business owner. I enjoy working on anything I am passionate about. Currently, I run a luxury hair extension business store and salon, The Belle Store. I started this business about 4 years ago mostly because of my love for hair.
How has your business evolved?
We started Our Hair extension business by just selling high-quality human hair but At this Moment we do so much more. At this moment we are a lot more versatile in the services we proffer. So wigging, coloring and styling.
How much did it cost you to start your hair extension business?
Funny enough, I started my hair care business with zero capital. I started by sourcing quality hair for people. To break it down, people would pay me to get them good hair. So I didn’t need any capital and I was able to trade with clients’ payments.
Wow! How much does it cost you to run your business right now?
Right now, I would say procurement, operational, administrative, and marketing costs run up to a few millions of naira every month.
Omo growth! What’s one of the earliest lessons you learned in running your business?
I would say the need the learn and improve on different aspects of the business. Beauty is an industry that evolves every day so I have learned to evolve my line of work as well. I am always experimenting with customer service, technology, and even with my products as well. I read about market trends and try to always make changes in my line of work.
What is a lesson that you just learned but wished you knew sooner?
Oh, I wish I knew how to make sense of numbers earlier. One thing business owners can do is keep records - either manually in a book or with accounting software but so many people don’t pay attention to understand what these numbers mean. Now I use my financial records to understand my customers’ buying patterns, how to manage my inventory, what I spend on, and how I can cut down unnecessary costs. It’s honestly a game-changer.
What is your wildest experience as a business owner?
Two years ago, a dispatch rider misplaced an order worth about a million naira. It was hellish for me, I had a non-stop headache for 2 days.
That’s wild! How did you sort it out?
Luckily, the customer was super calm so I was able to think. I reported the issue to the logistics company and they refunded a percentage of the loss and then my team remade the wigs and colored it. Thankfully, the client waited and it worked out.
What strategies have you used to grow your business?
Definitely social media. Really investing in the right team for my social media, was so impactful. I hired a social media strategist that helped in content creation and leveraging the right tools on social media and it’s definitely not something I regret.
How do you manage and track all the orders and expenses right now?
I currently track all my sales through sales software, I have an accountant on retainer who helps interpret my numbers, and I have a google sheet that my staff uses to track expenses.
This seems like a lot - How much does it cost?
Okay, subscription + my accountant fees cost me about 60,000 naira every month.
What is the biggest challenge so far?
For a long time, it was inventory management. I was always out-of-stock and this was mostly because I didn’t know what people liked, what products were running out quickly, or how long it would take for my products to get to me from my supplier. It was actually hell.
Slowly but surely, I am solving that, maybe I will even use Kippa for that. So, my biggest challenge at the moment is hiring the right team. Finding people who are in alignment with my vision for my hair care business and are driven to solve problems for my customer is not very easy.
What’s your dream for The Belle Store
To be a global hair care business brand. Right now, we do get international customers but I want to get registered in multiple countries and serve women everywhere in the world. As far as ready-to-wear wigs are concerned, I'd like to develop products that women can pick up, adjust, and wear, versus the custom-fit wigs that are currently available.
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