Most businesses start as a dream and only become real if the dreamer wakes up to really work on the dream. Bukola Michael decided to wake up from a childhood dream and as she reveals in this interview with VICTORIA OMUYA USMAN
A brief about who you are and where you are from.
I am Bukola Michael, an indigene of Kabba in Kogi State. I was also born and raised there. My father is Michael Oluwatoyin, a retired civil servant and my mother is Hannah Michael, a trader. I think entrepreneurship is in my blood considering the fact that my mum trades too. I am the last of seven siblings.
I began my education journey in 1993 at St. Joseph Primary School Kabba. From there I moved to St. Barnabas Secondary School before proceeding to the Nasarawa State University Keffi, Nasarawa State, from where I graduated with a degree in Mass Communication.
How has it been since being in the business?
My business started as a passion. I grew up dreaming of having a lifestyle brand, something similar to a startup but that involves working with people’s hair and impacting their lives somehow. And that is what I try to do these days with BK Stylist and Salon. Every successful business has one terrible hurdle or another that they must overcome to get to the zenith and I have seen a few in my little time spent as an entrepreneur. These challenges are the norm in any business and not unique to me and my business. In business, you need to be courageous. Don’t be that person who is too afraid to jump off the cliff. If you are not scared, then your goals are not big enough. Reach for the sky and whenever you reach your goal, set another bigger and bolder one. That’s the way to do it.
What inspired you to this business?
I must say that I love the entrepreneurial side of me. I love to work with people, styling their hair and making them beautiful. My braids, weave-on, wigs, and nails are unique with my master piece touch. Styling hair is one of the best things about me. It brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I have customers that demand my services every now and then and this keeps me busy round the clock and money in my pocket too, nothing compares to that. I do my best to leave my customers satisfied. They usually know what they want before they come so I give them that or where I feel the need, I advise them on a different style. For me, what matters is that they get what fits them. Afterwards, I post my work on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, these posts in turn bring me more customers and the circle goes on. Apart from making hair and wigs, I also buy and sell human hair.
How did you raise money to start your business?
For many entrepreneurs when starting out, the option of raising money from family and friends can seem like the most straightforward thing to do. With no banks or institutions to breathe down your neck to pay back loans, the flexibility to dictate your own terms and the belief of people who know you, makes it a little easy. However, failure to communicate and insensitivity can result in fall-outs, bad feeling, and in the worst-case scenario, lawsuits and loss of money, whether that’s for you or your loved ones or not. Asking for help is one thing, asking for financial help is another beast on its own. My family helped me to fund mine when I started and they still stand by me.
What has customers’ response to your services been?
The reaction of people who encounter my services is heartwarming. They are usually happier when they leave my beauty place and this gives me the confidence I need to stay focused. Right from my school days when I used to do it just for fun, I always got positive feedback from friends. Mind you, at some point when I was in school, I just had to start charging for my services even with friends, just so I could support myself. So, it has been glorious. And most of my friends from school still patronise me even after school.
Did you have any form of training?
After I noticed that the passion for styling hair was in me, I began to take opportunity of any female friend who would not mind me touching their hair. Therefore, from practising every now and then, I perfected everything that relates to hair without formally acquiring the skill or apprenticing under anyone. In addition, because I am a very creativity, person, I was able to come up with fascinating styles to keep my customers.
What is your biggest challenge in this business?
Lack of enough money to do what I want to do, or let’s just say, to go to the next level. I have had the desire to expand my brand now for a long time, but there isn’t enough money to do that. Then there is the electricity palaver, that one is just so frustrating. All the challenges notwithstanding, when you come to BK Stylist and Salon, you get so much niceness and care that will have you and your hair instantly hooked. The magic, of course, is in the fingers.
What do you think about made in Nigeria hair products?
There is a huge need and immense benefit to supporting and embracing locally made goods. It is one of the sure ways to fully realise our potential as a nation. It is one possible way out of our current economic dependency and poverty. It is what everyone should support, so I do too. Nigeria is currently struggling with the fall in value of the naira which has been declining against the dollar. No one knows how low it will fall before stabilizes so we need to patronise Nigerian goods instead of foreign ones.
Are you a member of any business body?
At the moment, no. Not yet. But I have plans to join one soon for my own sake and my business’s survival.
Describe your personal style.
Style is a way to say whom you are without having to speak. Personally, I like to go casual, comfortable, simple, pretty and confident all the time. Being casual makes me come off as down to earth. As for comfort, I just love easy care clothes. Low heel shoes, sandals, flats. And nice moderate make up on my face.
What is routine for you, as far as beauty is concerned?
My beauty daily routine has to concentrate on my body. That is why I do my best to stay fit by exercising regularly to stay in shape. I also watch what I eat and go on diets if I have to.