Nigerian Trichologist, Salon Business Consultant and Educator, Uche Joseph Umana (née Durueke) was the first to host a salon business seminar, tagged Salon 360 Master class in over Four major states in Nigeria in 2019.
During her early career days, the Port Harcourt born and raised graduate of University of Uyo had worked on different capacities in Hospitality, Consulting, Oil and Gas sectors before moving to start her own business.
Speaking on how she dumped white collar job to foray into business, she said; “I’ve always had it at the back of my mind to start my business someday. So, while I took up different employments (that spanned for over fourteen years) I saw them as training opportunities because I also started my business from the comfort of my home. The big break came after marriage and relocation; I got the opportunity to work with an international consulting firm in 2013. And that was my last job as an employee. I knew I was ready to start my business.”
On why she chose her profession against others, she noted; “I didn’t have this clarity immediately. Like most people who are passionate about this industry (especially hair and salon business); I started my first business based on my love and passion for hair, but I failed barely after I took off.
The reality of running a business hit me the first time. I tried my hand again a second and third time (still in the same industry) and still failed despite the training I had received from my previous jobs. Nothing prepared me for the reality of running my business in this industry.
It was the fourth time I realized that the dynamics of running a salon or spa business is different from what was prevalent in the industries that I was coming from; and in trying to gather knowledge and information I discovered that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. After my trainings and certifications; I customized and created Salon Business Africa specifically for Nigerian and African Salon business owners/industry enthusiasts to help them structure their beauty businesses properly and also pursue professional careers in the industry.”
Speaking further, she highlighted some of the challenges she has had to grapple with. “It has not been easy I must say. The thing about charting new courses is that you create road maps as you go. You are vulnerable to mistakes and you know that your speed could have been accelerated if you had people at the forefront. But it has been an amazing journey of self and opportunity discovery.”
However, she admitted to how lucrative the business is. “In 2012 I read an article that estimated Africa’s investment in hair and salon business to be about $50 million annually and it also acknowledged Nigeria as the largest consumer of the beauty products.
Today, we have more business owners and direct users who have plugged into this market than we did 8-years ago. Salon/beauty business is highly lucrative and also is that sector that has the capacity to engage more people and create more employment for the nation. If managed and run properly a standard salon business that offers regular services can make between N500, 000 and above every month”, she said.
Uche, who is a wife and mother, harped on how she balances the home front alongside her business. “Creating balance is not an easy goal to reach. Some things still suffer, but because I’m aware of what is most important to me, I have learnt to prioritize and strike a perfect balance. First, I was fortunate enough to have clarity about who I was before marriage, so it informed my choice of a spouse.
My husband is not just supportive but has been my biggest support system from day one. As a wife and mother, I try to leave work at the office and focus on my family. Like I said, when I started, it wasn’t easy, we are still a work in progress so we keep developing, modifying and evolving as we grow”, she said.
Concluding, Uche opined that soon, the beauty industry would become a major employer of labour in Nigeria and by extension, Africa. “Like I mentioned earlier, if we follow the rate at which the industry is growing; we will become a major employer of labor in the country and I am referring to well-paying jobs for degree holders.
Again, we already have beauty product manufacturers in Nigeria with brands that can meet global standards; I believe most of them will make it to the international stage five years from today. The Nigerian Beauty and Salon business is gradually contributing to global communications on how to move the industry further and I think we will have more Nigerian owned businesses in that space in five years”, she stated.