By Morenike Taire
ALL her life, Mrs. Franca Aricha Agboola has dreamt of making people beautiful. Today, she is the proprietor of one of Lagos’ biggest beauty parlours. The Ogoja, Cross River State born lady is a graduate of Industrial Chemistry from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, former University of Technology. After getting married in December of 2004, the mother of three kid started her own business 2006, doing all kinds of beauty treatments as well as selling products. Excerpts:-
WHICH advice do you have to share with somebody who wants to start saloon business in Nigeria?
First and foremost, before you start any business in Nigeria you must have a certain amount of capital and the technical know-how of what you want to go into. The knowledge is very important because if you don’t have the knowledge of what you want to do, the people that run your business may end up ruining your business for you. Though you might employ others, those you employ may not have exactly, the type of vision you have.
Again, you have to get the personal drive to do it because without it there is no way the business will succeed. It is important.
Importance of capital
However, when all these things are there and there is no money, one cannot succeed but it is important that you know the business just as the capital is equally important.
What are the challenges salon businesses face in Nigeria?
The major one is that one has to deal with a lot of customers involving people from all walks of life such as bankers, lawyers, doctors, elderly and the young girls. When you are dealing with such categories of people, you have to come down to their level and flow so that you can offer their desired services.
Some people may come with a certain mindset and if care is not taken you run into problems with them. No matter the categories of customers we have, I try to maintain a very good relationship with all of them. Stylists are another challenge because you employ them and some of them don’t easily key in into the vision that we have.
They go left when at times one is going right. At the end of the day you might get a clash of opinions. I have to count myself lucky because I have good hands. Though we give the orientation, we have laid off almost 10 of them since we stared. My case is a little different because I am here most of the time. Another challenge is the environment because there is a lot of competition in this business.
Our Unique Selling Point is that we are knowledgeable in what we are doing. I have been in it since my secondary school days and I have come a long way and it is not really a problem for me. Another challenge is regular power supply; though we have it regular in this area and I think it is part of the challenges most people in areas where it is not regular face. Sometimes, we use the generating set.
How did you get into the salon business?
It has been my personal interest from secondary school. You know some people are scared of hair and they can’t really touch someone’s hair but it was different for me as I loved to work on peoples hair. Even when I got to service, I continued. I even got an award as the most industrious youth corps member in Anambra State in 2002. I started making money from fellow corpers by doing their hair.
Is hair salon business lucrative?
Salon is 100 % lucrative because it is a business that does not accommodate credit facility. It is not like every other business where people owe. Before you go into a beauty saloon to do your hair you must have your money in your pocket; so whatever you do you get paid for it. As a business person, I will not allow anybody to come into my salon to do hair on credit. Meanwhile people in my environment are well to do and most of them are exposed, so we find it very easy to deal with them.
Which categories of customers give you most problems to deal with?
I discovered that the elderly are most difficult to deal with when it comes to customer services. We have a lot of landlord’s wives and women who are much older than me. The easiest sect of customers to do business with is the students and the younger ones. They always have money and they cope with us.
If you were not a hair dresser, what else would you have got into?
I will do something that is my field and that is water production; I cannot produce water but I can do water treatment. I have not ruled it out completely.
Can you compare Salons in Nigeria with those in developed countries?
Yes, one can comfortably compare Salons in Nigeria with those abroad. I travel abroad at least two, three times a year and when I go I do a lot of hair there. When you talk about African styles we are better than them because it is our style which we know better. They are excited when they see what we do.
As a married woman, how do you balance your house chores and the salon business?
My husband is a very caring, loving and considerate person. He cooperates and tries to see that he supports me in all aspects particularly in the business. My children are very independent as I have taught them from a very young age and so they can cope at all times.
I take off days (Mondays and Wednesday within the week to take care of the home. I cook the food and clean up the house and do some things the person helping me cannot really do. I also close early so that I can meet up with what is happening in the house.
What is your staff like?
I have a banker and we have 2 graduates who are trainees in make up. They are many who are educated but still want to get that vocational training. I really don’t look at where they are coming from; rather we change them and make them better. The people are doing very well in their different areas of endeavours.
What determines different styles in women?
Hair styles depend on the body type and the shape of the head. If the person is short and slim, I will prefer something straight and flat. I will rather prefer curly and long hair for those that are short and slim.
Those who have come of school and don’t have a means of livelihood should learn something and get a vocation. Right now I am enjoying the thing I learnt in the secondary school though the certificate is a plus as it gives an edge in the business. Younger people should be encouraged to have a trade in Nigeria.
How do you relax?
I like to go out a lot with my family. In Nigeria I like to relax at home and read newspapers. I read a lot.
What can you say about men who ask their wife to shave their hair due to economic reason?
I don’t think it is good for a man to tell her wife to shave off her hair for economic reasons. There are many hair dos one can do without having to spend a fortune. The woman’s hair is really her beauty.