Tokunbo Amusan, an Investment Banker in the UK, who aims to dominate the perfume industry
Please tell us about yourself
I studied Accounting and Finance in De Montfort University. I work for Goldman Sachs in Government Corporate Bonds and I also run my own perfume business called Tok Haynes.
What is Toks Haynes and what was the inspiration behind its inception?
Tok Haynes aims to provide different scents that you wouldn’t find in a store. Perfumes are always in fashion so I decided to go into perfume making as I believe that it is one thing that never dies down as long as you can bring something new every season. That was the main inspiration for me going into the perfume business. I went for a perfume testing course in Nice, France, and I was then introduced to some of my partners in Dubai who made three different scents and gave me the licence to sell it in London.
How did you break into market the in Dubai? What challenges did you face?
Before breaking into the Dubai market, I had already done my research so I knew where to go and who to speak to. I knew the supplier I wanted to use and I already did my research on my target market as well and seeing the kind of reception the perfume would get if I brought it to London. Because of my research, it was quite easy for me to bring the perfumes out to London.
What have you learnt so far about starting a business that you would offer a new start up?
Do your research! There are always going to be rough days so don’t give up. Just know that slow progress does not mean no progress at all, you just have to persevere. Have a plan, have a goal, have focus.
How are you able to juggle your day job with your business, and what tips would you give to others trying to do the same?
I work 12 hours a day minimum, so it’s a bit stressful, but luckily for me I don’t sleep often, so I can always work around the clock. I plan my time every day; every morning I go through my orders online and I either get one of my assistants to do the posting, or I do it when I have time during my lunch, or at times if the client needs the perfume urgently I deliver it to their door. I am in charge of my (9-5) job, so I plan my day around the way the market is going and I see when I have a free 20 minutes to post some perfumes or get someone to help me. It’s all about planning every day and seeing how each day works for you.
How did you go about obtaining initial funding for the business? What advice would you give to others trying to obtain funding?
I was lucky enough to have been working for a while so the funding came from my personal funds, but if you are struggling with funding there are ways you can get funds. You could get funding from a bank but there are some companies that require you to send them your proposal and they take 20% of your business, and give you the capital you require. If you have enough money to start up a business, I suggest using personal funds because you don’t have to worry about a loan payment or someone taking 20% of your profit. Plus it gives you the flexibility to make the decisions that you want to make by yourself without requiring to speak to someone else or worrying about what the bank may think.
Do you think it’s important for young Nigerians abroad to be connected and what benefit do you think this will be of?
Africa is coming up right now; people want to associate with being African, whereas when I was younger, no one wanted to. I think it’s a good thing because you’re connecting to your culture, and it makes you more dynamic.
What more do you thing needs to be done to connect the young Nigerian Community in diaspora?
I think there should be more networking, and networking for the right reasons, not just for raving, partying or concerts. There is not a lot of professional networks for Africans.
Where would you like to see yourself and Toks Haynes be in the next 5 years?
I want to see myself in Selfridges and House of Fraser but to also have my own shop. They say the sky’s the limit but I don’t think there is a limit to what you want to do if you put your mind to it. So the aim is to have around 10 perfumes. Right now we have 3, but there are 2 coming out in Christmas, so we aim to keep growing steadily. Even if it’s slow growth, as long as we are growing, that shows signs of improvement.
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