Every business owner’s dream is to upscale, to go global into a bigger market. But how many business owners know how to reach the global markets? How many know the types of strategies to help them achieve that level of success. We had a chat with Oluremi Martins about how she started her business, Natural Girl Wigs. Her online natural wig business grew globally from Nigeria to the UK, US, and Europe. She also shared insights on some of the lessons she learned along the way.
Who is Oluremi Martins, the business owner?
I believe I am a woman of vision; I like to dream big; you know it’s either you go big or go home!. I resonate with my African roots and culture and believe in connection. I believe in the positive impact of commerce, as Africans have made it something to leverage to create and sell revolutionary products and opportunities.
Tell me a bit about how you got into the business?
Growing up, my grandmother always told me that business ran in my blood; I come from a generation of women that have always been business-oriented. From my great-grandma, who started her craft as a trader, to everyone else in my family who runs some kind of business. But I never thought I would run a business, and I had always just assumed that my calling was the corporate world; I never thought I was going to become an entrepreneur.
I have always been a natural hair enthusiast, so it was easy to find a passion in that line. My goal was to correct something even I struggled with as a black woman. Which was to create better dynamics for protective styles, from wigs to weaves to braids for black women like myself. So it only felt reasonable to have those protective hairstyles still preserve your natural hair appearance.
How old is Natural Girl Wigs?
The business is currently 3 years old as of now.
How much did it cost you to start NaturalGirl Wigs?
I started Natural Girl Wigs with zero funds. The first sample we made was a collaboration between my hairstylist and me; I did the first product shoot with my friend Tolu, and it went viral. The demand for it was flowing in, and I essentially took payment from everyone and used that money to create the first set of wigs I sold. So it was more of a thing if I had just one product and sold the idea first. Then the product.
How much does it cost to run your business now?
To be honest, only my accountant can tell you that. But I know that Natural Girl Wig is a 7 figure business. Annually in running the business, we do 6 figures USD.
What’s one of the earliest lessons you learned in business?
The first lesson I learned early was that operation is the engine of any business. It has inspired how I run my business. The second lesson I learned was positioning, and I had to position my business like a high-end one. So, for example, I knew to pay my salary and never touched company funds. That essentially made it very easy to expand when we needed to.
How did you acquire your business knowledge so early on?
I learned from my experiences as a digital marketer. But mainly, I learned from my first business failure. After that, I made it my goal not to fail again, so those experiences guided me to the right path with natural Girl Wigs.
Did you try any other businesses before this?
Yeah, actually. Years before natural Girl Wigs, I started a braiding business. I even took a loan, and the business model flopped before it had the chance to take off.
How have the humans and environment around you influenced your business?
I have very supportive people around, from my partner who had previous experiences in business operations who was very kind to advise me early on. He played a massive part in my business development. My mom as well, who had been very supportive as well. I have been fortunate and blessed to have everyone around me.
Take us through what your workdays entail?
The way my day moves changes from time to time. I am up by like 7:00-7:30. I go through my emails and schedule to see that the day runs smoothly. I essentially work with my marketing and operations teams to supervise everything generally. And I take my breaks by watching YouTube and Instagram.
Did you start your business with the mindset of going global?
Yes, it was intentional. I initially wanted to create a business with a better alternative to the high-end Chinese wigs or extensions with a different texture to our natural hair. So I started with an Instagram page called BrowngirlNg, where I shared natural hair inspos for black women. For a long time, I had Natural Girl Wigs as a side hustle; it wasn’t until it started to gain a lot of traction from countries outside Nigeria, such as the UK and the USA, that it became something I took seriously full-time.
How many other countries, aside from Nigeria, does Natural Girls Wigs currently operate?
We currently run the business from the US and the UK, but we ship worldwide. Although, our strongest presence still has to be in the US.
What business strategy did you leverage to position yourself as an international business?
We continuously listened to our customers and gave them what they needed; we ultimately made ourselves obsessed with what our customers wanted. We had to figure out their problems and create solutions to them. We are a very customer-focused business.