Oyin Akiniyi is the Founder of The Good Hair Club, an online store dedicated to UK hair products. Oyin speaks to us about her passion in championing women in business and changing the perception of what ‘good hair’ should be.
What was the inspiration behind The Good Hair Club?
The inspiration started in Nigeria, when I moved back for work for a year a half. In that time, there was no big epiphany, I just decided to shave all my hair off because it was so hot and I didn’t want to do anything to it. In doing so, when I came back to London, I decided to grow it out naturally.
Because I had just moved back from Nigeria, I had a new view of how I looked at the world, especially the beauty scene in the UK. I remember walking in a beauty store, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice that was available to me and also knowing I couldn’t communicate with the store owner because he wouldn’t know about my hair type. That’s how The Good Hair Club journey really began, with me questioning what I expected from hair care experience, realising that we deserve better and that our hair care experience shouldn’t be governed by Asian men in hair shops or by multi-million pounds producers in shampoo who put awful chemicals in our products. We deserve the best in terms of quality of products and quality of experience in terms of retail.
Why have you decided to focus on British independent brands?
One of the key things for me was being a platform that champions women in black beauty aesthetics and women entrepreneurs. I love the independent ethos, all the brands that I have are primarily run by women who have seen a niche and are solving a problem and are extremely passionate. I can feel that passion from them and I believe in their craft.
The natural hair scene is already big in the States, is growing in the UK, and is gaining popularity in Nigeria but how far are we in Nigeria to fully accepting it?
In the way that in the UK and US it was a movement and it took time to grow, Nigeria needs the same process. It requires time, it requires people to have access to new ideas of beauty and information about how to look after natural hair. I think Nigeria is going through that journey; there are more natural beauty stores and bloggers who are catering to this so in time it will grow.
There are many black hair companies that are out there now, so what makes The Good Hair Club different from the rest?
The Good Hair Club is about redefining the idea of ‘good hair’; moving from the past where ‘good hair’ was about having a certain type of hair to a space where any type of hair could be ‘good hair’. The Good Hair Club is about championing amazing beauty products that are organic and natural; whether it’s natural or relaxed hair, that’s neither here or there for me, it’s about having the best products to do the best job on your hair and also championing women.
You came from a music background, how did you transition from that into a business that focuses on hair care?
I started my career in Universal records working in Music Marketing for a few years and then I transitioned out of that into Advertising Marketing and I’ve worked for about 6-7 years in the space of using marketing for advertising social goods. In that time I’ve developed products, platforms and brands that have made a positive impact. I don’t have any expertise in hair care per say, I just have a passion for black women in particular and giving us the best because we deserve the best.
Do you still work in advertising or is your main focus The Good Hair Club now?
I wish to focus on The Good Hair Club but I work full time.
So how are you managing the both?
It’s just discipline and focus. I know what my end goal is and I know that I am going to get there so I just focus.
What has been the most memorable experience since the inception of your business?
It was launching it; I was so overwhelmed that I had this idea over a year ago, developed it and went through with it. The most amazing feeling in the world is to dream something to life. It is really tough to have a business, work full time and have a life, however what motivates me is that I genuinely believe in the business and in women and I just love it!
What challenges have you faced since the set-up of the company and how have you overcome them?
I knew that there was a chance early on that I might quit, but my biggest challenges have been confidence in myself and motivation. When I was still in the planning phase of the business, I found that I doubted myself a lot, whether I should have created it and whether or not the idea was the right idea. That’s the hardest thing because nobody can help you with that besides yourself, you have to believe and motivate yourself.
What top three tips would you give anyone wanting to start a business?
- Just do it! Obviously it’s important that you plan and do market research but beyond all of that, it’s important that you just do it. I think a lot of people spend a lot of time overthinking it and you never learn until you do it.
- Ask for help. You don’t know what you don’t know. We all have amazing networks which we have to learn to tap into more and ask for help.
- Don’t underestimate finances. Cash flow is king! Cash flow makes or breaks a business and if you don’t really factor that into your business it will fail before it has even started it.
Having lived in Nigeria and moved back to the UK, what effect have you seen diasporan’s make to the country and what more do you think needs to be done?
I think there is a lot of value from people in diaspora going to Nigeria and trying to build its infrastructure and I think there is a lot of value in skills exchange. I find it interesting however how we look at business in Nigeria; we look at serving the 5-10% who are already comfortable, but we should look at how we can tap into the 90-95% of the population who are not. We need to think about building a commerce that helps them but also ourselves.
Do you think it’s important for young Nigerians abroad to be more connected and why?
There are so many of us that are doing so many great things so it would be really interesting if we could connect on a meaningful level and offer an exchange of knowledge and skills. Why wouldn’t I utilise a network of amazing lawyers, accountants, or photographers who were from Nigeria? They are out there but often we don’t know where they are.
What lies in the future for The Good Hair Club?
I’ve got some really exciting things happening which I can’t talk about too much but the main thing for me is growing the brand. My future hopefully is world domination! More people understanding the brand and what we offer, growing it so that I can run it full time and taking on more brands on the platform and doing creative projects alongside it.
Follow The Good Hair Club on social media: