I was able to catch the C.E.O of Bleam Hair, Janet Akingboye, on a 15-minute WhatsApp call during the early hours of Thursday, last week before she began her busy day. I could hear the rasping of good night sleep in her voice, and the excitement to talk about her hair enterprise. She’s always excited to talk about her enterprise. Her story is one of strategic planning and reinvesting in oneself.
Janet Akingboye is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who has found her true calling selling the best and most affordable wigs. Throughout our conversation, she emphasized the need to always provide value to her customers as one of her many joys and motivation.
The hairstylist is a final year Banking and Finance student at The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. Financial independence is one of her many goals. She had worked as a Paga Agent in her mother’s shop at a young age. From there, she worked her way up the steep ladder of entrepreneurship. She started off as a hairstylist in and around FUNAAB campus. She then ventured into mini importation of shoes, bags and clothes. Her hard work yielded reasonable success. She grew her customer base by providing premium quality at affordable prices.
I could tell that she was comfortable discussing certain topics she wouldn’t venture to in the past. One of them was about the biggest challenge she has faced thus far as a result of her business. She had this to say, “I went to Lagos to get more supplies to meet demands by my customers. At that time, there was a curfew around where I lived because of the increasing number of robbery cases. Due to the traffic in Lagos, I returned to Abeokuta very late and was arrested. I had to sleep in a cell overnight. It was a terrible experience.”
I could tell that this was a sensitive topic for her and decided not to push further on the topic. I asked her if she has ever felt like giving up; to which she replied “Never!” with a lot of conviction. In her words, “when you know where you are going, and what you want, you can’t let yourself give up. You might need a rest, but never give up.”
Janet described herself as a “Jack of all trade, master of one (at a time).” Her goal isn’t to build a temporary business but an institution with a lasting legacy. This explains why she goes into other businesses while maintaining existing ones. “My goal is to make my brand a signal of quality so that whatever I decide to go into next will be accepted by all.”
As I wrapped my mind around the audacity of her ambition, I asked her what the favourite part of her business is. “Instant gratification,” she said, giggling a bit at the thought of it, before continuing. “The effect of a good wig on the appearance, mood, behaviour and confidence is second to none. It changes everything about you in an instant! And, of course, making a profit.”
As a veteran in the business, this is her singular truth, “hair is a luxury and the market is saturated. If you are looking to get into this business, you need to find your niche. That thing about your business that makes it unique.” while also stressing her brand’s mission and vision.
This, she says, is what has been her drive in the business for years. “Making sure that every woman knows our brand for quality, value, patronizes us, and providing employment opportunities.”
Although her success inspires people, many do not know the amount of work that goes into it. She manages to stay ahead by reinventing herself and constant development. She attends paid sessions on digital marketing, content writing and curating.
She concludes our small chat with this advice: “it is not easy, but you just have to keep pushing till you get where you want to be.”