How perfect is it that our first guest feature for the year 2017 falls about the same week of the ‘International Women’s Day’ celebration week? I say just perfect! and here’s why..

Miss Solange Chioma Uzodike is our first guest and she is the CEO of Solange Hair and Beauty; a beauty enterprise located in Abuja, Nigeria and by virtue of the fact that I have been privileged to meet and work with her, I can attest that she truly is a phenomenal young woman, with a heart, who has defined a lane for herself in the beauty industry. (I still remember one of my earlier encounters with her a few years back, where we had a mild talk about her work and growing the business. She told me something that back then I did not take casually and now, I remember how valuable and efficient those words are. She said and not quoting, after asking what I was most passionate about; that I should put more energy in building my passion, learn about it and use social media to push it out there). This advice like charity, which I believe they say, “begins at home”, must have first been implemented by the entrepreneur on her brand/business because considering that Miss Uzodike is a graduate of Economics, the success of Solange Hair and Beauty (SHAB), is a clear refection of passion, deliberately pursued, grown and advertised.

SHAB is a beauty shop that caters to general beauty needs, from hair, make up, to beauty enhancing products and what I like to term – beauty consultancy or some level of it.

On the list of clients Solange Hair and Beauty has catered to, you can find an almost endless chain of brides, the preceeding Presidents of Nigeria’s (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) daughter, celebrities such as Bonag Matheba Toke Makinwa, Stephanie Coker Aderinokun, Lilian Esoro, Linda Osifo, top models like Chika Emanuella, Ojima Daniella Atawodi and other top personalities to name a few.

Now, do allow us formally introduce this enterprise – SHAB and of course it’s “power house’, Miss Solange Uzodike.

‘Solange Hair and Beauty’, I do like how unassuming the name is. Would you say you had a message to pass by this?

Well, my name is Solange; Solange means “dignified” in French, so apart from the fact that it’s my name,  it also means something which every lady should have. So yes, there is a message to it.

When did Solange Hair and Beauty (SHAB) kick off and how has the journey been so far?

SHAB kicked off officially in 2014; that was when we registered our name and became official. Before then, SHAB was low key and unofficial as I catered to just family and friends and referrals from them. So far,  so good, it’s not been a very smooth one, we’ve had our challenges, down times and happy times, but all these put together makes up our story, it also makes us realize our mistakes and strive to correct them and become better in the business. 

Professionally speaking you are an Economist, what then inspired SHAB?

SHAB has been a passion which I have built to become a profession. Back then in high school when I went to the salon to make the hairstyle our prefects chose for the week, while I waited for my turn, I was fascinated by how the hairstylists were able to be artistic with hair and I enjoyed watching them and asking questions. Most times, I gave up my space for other girls to have their hair done before me though I came before them, this, just so I could watch the stylists create more hairstyles. The salon knew me then, because they were just amazed by how much a little girl was so inquisitive and interested in the works of their hands. I’ll go home and practice on my sister’s hair, my neighbor’s hair and sometimes play with my mom’s hair. I also loved to watch fashion TV because I liked to watch how makeup was done on the different models, I’ll go on the internet and watch more makeup and hairstyling videos, then I practiced on any lady I had around me. It went on and on even to my university level and till date. It’s simply passion I chose to develop and eventually turned to my career. 

Who or what has been your biggest influence(s)?

A lot of my colleagues in the industry; meeting photographers, hairstylists, makeup artist has influenced me over the years, seeing different people in the industry very passionate about their art, watching people express themselves through their art, having conversations with them on their journey so far has really motivated me. Also my fiancé who is my greatest fan and supporter pushed me a lot of times and helped me realize this dream/passion into what it is today. A huge thank you to everyone that has influenced me one way or the other.

‘Hair and Beauty’ can be quite broad in context though, how is this relative to SHAB?

Yes, because beauty is a very broad term we chose it as the word relates to our long term goals. Beauty ranges from skin care, makeup, nails, etc. We plan to go into other things in the future, relating to beauty. We plan to have beauty products and more hair products as we already have some hair products, so this helps keep us in check and leads us in the direction of our long term goal. Hair is quite straightforward, talking about hair care, styling, hair extensions and so on.

What inspires your creativity for the hair styles and looks?

Inspiration is not particular,  most times it comes from the least expected things or places or people, sometimes shapes influences my creativity other times the beauty of nature and some other times culture, we are blessed with so many beautiful cultures around the world, all these are great influences to creativity.

How has the response towards SHAB been and what is your strongest support base?

It’s been such an amazing response, because we try to do things in our own unique way, a lot of people appreciate our uniqueness and have embraced us warmly in the industry. Our strongest support base comes from referrals. We get a lot of our clients through referral, this is very encouraging because it means that most times our clients are truly satisfied with our work and it keeps them talking about us. This is the most satisfying form of marketing to me and it keeps us going.

As an entrepreneur, building your brand is key however, the strategies employed can be most crucial – what would you say has been your most effective strategy for SHAB growth? 

For our growth, getting the right skillful team that shares the same goals and mission as the business, so that when we market we are able to deliver, this has been so effective on the growth of the business.  Social media has played a very huge role on the growth of the business, with the number of potential clients registered on various social media platforms, we are able to put our quality work out there, people are able to  give real time feedback on the quality of our services, other potential customers view these reviews and are interested in our services. This has been a very big game changer in the life of our business. Also, collaborating with other vendors that complement our services has helped out a lot. 

What has been your biggest challenge for SHAB since its inception and how have you managed challenges in the business?

At first it was startup capital,  then hiring the right staffs that have the skill and passion to take the business to achieving its goals. For the capital, I got help from my fiancé and family alongside the little I had saved up. When you keep talking to people about what you love to do, your dreams and what you desire to achieve, you never know where the help will come from. As for hiring the right staff, I did a lot of screening and training, trying to understand their strengths and weaknesses in the skill and making sure those weaknesses are no longer a problem to them, this took me a lot of time and cost, but I was able to get the quality of skill the business requires.

In your years of managing SHAB, would you say there are low points and have you had professional experiences that were somewhat unpleasant?

Yes, we definitely have had low points, even till date but it’s all part of our growth process and this also strengthens us because we are able to pull through this. We’ve had a couple of unpleasant moments, like I said earlier; it’s not been all smooth. You know one of the biggest challenge in our business is trying to satisfy people, these are total strangers you know nothing about, different people come to us with their different ways or understanding of how some of our services should be done, we are able to handle this by carefully listening to them, also advising them on how to achieve certain looks and styles, some people are difficult to handle but the secret is to remain calm, listen to them and advise them. These down points and unpleasant moments are very good for us as, it has played a huge role on the development and improvement of our skills and quality of service. With this, we are able to serve our customers better.

Can you tell us a little about your client base?

We have a range of clients from top government officials, elites, celebrities, fashion figures, entrepreneurs, professionals, students and so on. One of our top hit from our early days was styling the hair of the former president of Nigeria’s (Goodluck Jonathan) daughter for her wedding and also working on some international celebrities.

SHAB is located in Abuja, has location played a part in its growth and if so, how?

We are currently located at Utako. Before now we used to be at Gwarinpa, Abuja. This has played a huge role in the business because it is kind of central for people coming from different parts of Abuja. When we used to be in Gwarinpa we had some of our clients that complained about the distance but since we moved, distance hasn’t really been a problem for them anymore, although we plan to open more branches in the future to cater to more people in their different areas. 

What strategies does SHAB employ in maintaining a healthy balance of business and reliable service?

We try to ask our clients how we can serve them better, ask them some things they notice that they would like us to change and we work on them. We also do a lot of research to know what the new trend is and train ourselves to master the art of the new trend and we also tell our customers about it and carry it out in the best way. This has helped in balancing out the business and reliable services.

You have done quite a number of shoots in collaboration with other entrepreneurs and creative’s, as well, campaigns and the likes. Added to this, you have a beauty studio to manage. Wow! Do you really ever get time-out for yourself?

The truth is, it’s very difficult but if you don’t have time for yourself, you can’t have time for other people. If you have bad health, you can’t provide services for your customers. So I try my best to have some off days to think, relax and think of more ways, new strategies to grow the business, because without this you will keep working year in year out but the business is not growing, it remains at the same point and you start to wonder what went wrong. The problem is you don’t have time for yourself and neither do you have time for your business. This honestly is not easy, but I have learned to do this at least once a week.

What relaxes you?

Hmm…so many things, a spa date, music, movies, dancing, singing hanging out with friends, surfing the net, food and drinks and most especially very good sleep!

Where do you project SHAB 5years ahead?

One of the top, best beauty brands with its range of products and services patronized by different people across the world with different branches / franchise in different countries.

What message would you give to creative’s and budding entrepreneurs like yourself wishing to start up in the beauty industry?

Keep talking about your plans, you don’t need all the millions to start up, do a lot of research, find out what you really want to do; what you love to do. Create a uniqueness that will make you stand out from what everyone else is doing, pray to God, network with the right people, believe in yourself,  keep working hard, contact people in the line of business you wish to venture in, ask about their stories, read a lot of educating books, move away from your comfort zone, take away your fear of failure or what people will think, take risks, tell people your challenges, push yourself and be very positive, be humble. Know that not everyone will like your dreams, some people with try to discourage you, you may fail a couple of times, don’t give up, keep pushing, don’t try to be someone else, be yourself because everyone is unique in their own way, be real  and God will bless you!

SHAB GALLERIES…

Creative works

Turban by SHAB

Bridal works

…more!

SHAB is truly represented and truly delivers! Like she said “keep talking about your plans, create a uniqueness that will make you stand out, be humble, do alot of research, pray to God, be real!” – Powerful!

Weldone miss Uzodike *applauds*

xoxo

JW

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