By Chinenye Anaemena
Miss Helen Igboka is an accountant by profession and runs an Abuja-based beauty parlour: Skysignature Hair and Makeup Studio. He is from Enugu State, but was born in Nassarawa State. She is the fourth among seven children. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and Masters in Financial Economics from the University of Abuja.
My name is Helen Ogonnah Igboka from Nkanu local government area of Enugu State. I was born in Nassarawa State into the family of Mr and Mrs Paul and Caroline Igboka on the 20th October Nigeria. I am the fourth of seven children. My primary education was started in the North and completed in Achara Layout Primary School Uwani, Enugu State. Secondary education was in Ozalla High School Ozalla, Nkanu West local government in Enugu State and finished from De-Light International Secondary School Olodi Apapa, Lagos State. I further obtained a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and Masters in Financial Economics from the University of Abuja. I am privileged to have worked with leading financial management firms in Abuja and eventually, I considered yielding to my passion of establishing my own business on the side (Skysignature Makeover Studio).
HOW DID IT ALL START?
Skysignature Hair and Makeup Studio, started like a dream that became reality. Starting up a business in Abuja, Nigeria is not an easy task, the huddles start with getting your startup capital, getting a good and affordable shop space, getting good workmen to fix the place for business, getting products and convincing clients to start patronizing you, these chain of activities take months and are energy/passion drainers. In my case getting my startup capital wasn’t a fun ride either but all thanks to God I was able to kick-start the business officially on the 3rd of January 2016.
The passion to make impact in the life of young school girls, through my business. I have seen young beautiful girls sell their dignity for money and I said to myself how can I help in restoring our dignity as women, I know that I can’t just walk up to girls in school and tell them that they are worth much more than what those old married men can ever give them and they will listen to me without first giving them something to hold on to (cash) and I thought to myself; can I do that, because I don’t even have enough to take care of me so I decided I was going to open an ushering outfit where I can go to the two nearest schools to FCT, that is University of Abuja and Nasarawa State University to recruit fresh women (girls in first and second year) that will have the job for as long as they are in school. This is because I know that such job will expose them to a lot of events where they will learn and earn extra cash. I also plan to organize mentoring sessions from time to time where I will have women who have climbed the ladder of success come and mentor us and help them realise that there is more in them than their beautiful bodies and as a women you are more respected in the society when you have something to bring to the table and not by the value of your cell phone, designers shoes, bags , clothes and makeup which is one of the many reasons why some of this lovely young ladies go to the married and older men. Eventually I realized that doing that will required 100 per cent of my time and more money than I can afford at the moment so I decided to start with a salon, right now I have two lovely young ladies working with me and my mentoring session started from the two, I am still believing God that someday soon the good Lord will grant me the enabling facility and fund needed to venture into that.
YOUR EDGE OVER YOUR COMPETITORS?
The edge I have over my competitors is that I am a market leader with product and services differentiation, and excellent service at the most affordable price.
Capital is and has always been the challenge of startups and so it is for me. You have situations where clients will come and demand for hairs, makeup or other beauty essentials and you don’t have them because there is no fund to buy those products. Secondly, the light situation in the country is a business killer and can run you out of business. Lastly, getting an employee (stylist), who sees your vision and who is trustworthy is another very difficult challenge.
YOUR SECRET TIP
I draw my strength and wisdom from God; that is my secret.
Not starting my business 10 years ago.
Failure and lies.
YOUR MOST EMBARASSING MOMENTS?
I can’t remember one at the moment.
YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT?
The day God gave my mom a second chance in life after being in coma for close to 48 hours.
YOUR 10 YEAR PROSPECT?
I plan to be a major wig and other hair product producer in Nigeria.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS LIFE?
For me it has not been easy creating the balance because I close by 10pm, and work on Saturdays and Sundays after church.
I am blessed with a great mentor, mother and friend in the person of Mrs Ezenwa the CEO of Le-look Bag
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart; fix your eyes on your goal and not on your present struggles. Lastly if you most compete, compete only with yourself and always put God first in every decision of your life.