Kei explains how she started her business. PHOTO/JOAN SALMON


Kei weaves hair business into profitable undertaking

What you need to know:

  • Being able to make this first sale taught her to always believe in herself, focus and go for what she desires.
  • Kei has tried her hand at several businesses such as selling craft pieces made with kitenge fabric such as African print beach sandals, hats, sunbrellas and umbrellas.

Talk about brands such as Dove, and people will say authentic. But how about home-grown brands? 

It seems to take so much to convince one that Ugandans can make something, more so in the cosmetic industry that is genuine, and gives great results. 

Building brand 
It is this perception that Jilda Angeyango, commonly known as Kei Jil Jilda, the proprietor of Kei Organics desires to change. 

“We actually have the raw materials within reach yet wait for people abroad to process them and resale them to us. Not only are they costly because they are imports but sometimes do not resonate with our weather and skin or hair type,” says Kei. 

Kei put emphasis on her business on July 16, 2020 when she officially launched the online natural hair care line selling naturally extracted and made products from available natural resources. 
“Before that, I was selling to a few people and sharing with some family members,” says Kei.

Driven by passion 
Kei has, since childhood, had a passion for hair, and loved everything to do with it; natural or relaxed. The passion was further strengthened while watching some natural hair videos on YouTube, landed on one where a woman had knee-length natural hair.

“I told myself, I must embark on this mission or at least have very healthy hair. With that, I tried a few products such as cold-pressed coconut oil, raw shea butter, moringa, fenugreek, castor oil, coffee, avocado, and peppermint. Some family members also accepted to try my products which was encouraging,” she explains. 

The attempts were several and one day, she got it. “The day I was able to find a very friendly solution for my hard kinky natural hair was eureka moment for me. I got so excited and started sharing more,” she says.

First customer 
That landed her first customer, her sister, Esther. “I had already convinced her to return to natural hair which she had agreed to but her hair was very thick and hard to comb. So when one of my products (a mixture of the onion ginger and aloe vera oil and raw shea butter) helped to soften and make it easier to handle, she picked interest and decided to give it a try,” says Kei.

As her first client, Kei charged her half the price (original price was Shs35,000 and she paid Shs17,500).
Being able to make this first sale taught her to always believe in herself, focus and go for what she desires.

Kei has tried her hand at several businesses such as selling craft pieces made with kitenge fabric such as African print beach sandals, hats, sunbrellas, umbrellas, T-shirts, jumpers, and sweaters.

“My sister and I were also running an online shop for stylish maternity dresses, and also had also started an events company for decorations called J&E EVENTS,” she shares about her business journey. 

So you would expect that she has mastered the art of running online businesses, but Kei Organics had its own challenges. “The start of every business, as we all know, is not as easy. Mine was no different and the hurdle was limited capital,” she says.

She started with Shs500,000 which was saved from proceeds of previous businesses. “With this, I bought bottles and tins, created a logo, printed stickers, bought some of the organic butters, powders, fruits, plants and oils to formulate the mixtures.”

Despite having desired more to kick-start her venture, Kei always believed in starting small.
“So it was not very difficult because I already knew what to do, having done enough research and was already doing a few sales of different things on my social media platforms. As such, finding customers was a bit easy too,” she says.

Some of the research included studying and understanding the market. “I had to find out how much customers will pay as well as learning about other brand product prices by following their pages online. Sometimes I would buy their products and try them on myself to check the differences with mine. With that I was able to choose the best pricing technique by looking at the cost of production, and adding an extra cost to cater for labour and profit,” says Kei.  Being informed about the business she was in also helped her stay on her feet. 

Being an online business, Kei, the self-taught cosmetologist markets her products using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. “My products are for all age groups mainly targeting women and children.” While her business is not yet certified, Kei is working on it, hopeful to it get done soon.
When orders are made, deliveries must follow. However, Kei laments about the drastic weather changes causing downpours that slow or hamper deliveries, especially when they have to beat a certain deadline.

On top of figuring out what products work for kinky, coily African natural hair, Kei has received countless positive reviews from clients. “I made it a point to follow up with my clients or ask them to update me about my products which most brands don’t do. Most of these have been great, appreciating how well the products work. Others have also helped me better my products. All this is victory.”

She also started a Facebook group, Go Afro Ug which currently has about 7000 members. “These are people with virgin natural hair, transitioning or just starting the natural hair journey. We encourage each other and advise ourselves on the do’s and don’ts regarding hair maintenance.”

Another success so far is being able to come up with a business website which this was fully funded by a friend. “She believed in me and my work from the start and has continued to support my hustle in one way or another.” Looking back, Kei wishes she knew long before that this was her call, and purpose in life.

Kei looks to increase her product range which currently has butters, conditioners, and oils to offer her clients affordable yet quality products with which to enable them take care of their hair from home at not so much.

She also hopes to grow her market base, increases cash and success and also be able to create jobs.

Being an online business, Kei, the self-taught cosmetologist markets her products using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Tips for starting a salon

A hair salon can be a steady, profitable business, but before you open one, you need a strong business plan and preparation. Finding a niche for your salon helps you attract a loyal client base.

The most important things a salon needs to succeed are a good culture, knowledgeable employees and an understanding of what its services are worth. If you are thinking about opening a salon, these 10 tips will be critical in helping you develop an effective, successful business plan.

Cost of opening a salon
Before mapping out your finances and securing funding, you will want to consider what, exactly, you need funding for. Here are some common salon setup costs for aspiring owners:

Licenses and permits: To open a salon, you will need a business license and any permits required in your area. If you plan on selling products, you will also need a seller’s permit.
Real estate: You will have to find a place to either rent or buy. If you choose to pay a monthly lease, you will likely have to provide a security deposit upfront.
Payroll: This involves salaries or wages for the employees you hire, and all the associated benefits you choose to offer.

Salon equipment: A salon requires a ton of equipment, like beauty supplies, sinks, chairs and hair dryers. You may also need a POS system, computer, business phone system and more.

Inventory: If you plan to sell cosmetics or other products, you will want to stock up on your inventory before opening.
Insurance: To legally cover your business, you will want to set aside money for a decent insurance plan.

Equipment financing
You need a decent amount of equipment to run a salon, such as chairs, sinks and hair dryers.

When you are starting out, it can be difficult to afford all these purchases. With equipment financing, you will receive a loan to front these payments, so you can start off on the right foot without breaking the bank. 

Rather than buying all-new equipment, consider leasing it to reduce the upfront cost. 
Some lenders also offer equipment financing, which uses the equipment as collateral; you would then make regular payments until the value of the equipment is repaid with interest.

Business plan
Writing a business plan should be your first step when starting any business. 
It provides you with a clear objective, outlines how you will achieve that objective, and gives you a good idea of what you need to do to be successful.

“A business plan is key to starting a salon,” said Ali Ryan, owner of The Dry House. “The plan offers a road map for salon owners to follow and helps entrepreneurs consider all areas of the business. A business plan makes sure you set up a metric for success and consider the financials before you invest huge amounts of time and money in a new salon.” 

Make sure you have a good understanding of the existing salon market in your area, including how large it is, if it is growing and the trends. This will help you to plan exactly how you will compete against other salons.

Think about what makes your salon unique. Is it the services you offer? Your attentive staff? Your customised experiences? Whatever it may be, try to make it a focal point of your identity and grow your business from there. 

In other words, find your niche. Growing your business in a niche market is much easier than trying to succeed in a large, general market. 

A niche market gives you more security against failure and a chance to find out what works well (and what doesn’t) for your business by allowing you to interact more closely with your customers.

Talk to distributors
To obtain products for your salon – such as chairs, mirrors, washing and drying stations, shampoo, conditioner, pins, and brushes – you will need to contact a distributor. 
You can find local, wholesale or national distributors with local agents.

When you begin your distributor search, remember to shop carefully and consider every prospect. 
Look at price points and the customer support (like advice or consulting) different distributors offer, and ask if they offer any deals or perks.

Client base
As a salon owner, you should place your clients and their experience at the top of your priority list. This will create return customers who, over time, will form a reliable customer base.

Whether you buy a building or rent a retail space, your location is one of the biggest expenses of opening a salon, and there are many factors to consider when making this decision. 
It should be in a well-populated area and easily accessible by car or public transportation. Also make sure you are far enough away from competitors that offer the same services as your salon.

Hire a designer
If you have the financial means, hiring a designer to help you create your salon can reduce stress and ensure an appealing, functional workspace. 
A designer can help you determine an overall look and feel that is consistent with the image you want to project.

Focus on your staff
Your salon is only as good as the people you employ to help run it. Because beauty is such a personal industry, it is vital to retain a skilled, knowledgeable and friendly staff. 
“I would advise any new salons to invest time in the training and motivation of the staff,” said Jennifer Quinn, digital marketing executive at Phorest Salon Software. 

“Your salon will be built around your stylists and technicians, [so] ensuring they are comfortable with upselling products and other treatments across the brand is the difference between success and failure.”

Taking the time to train your employees thoroughly will help your business run more smoothly and maintain a professional reputation.
As you start out, gather feedback from your clients about what they like and don’t like about your salon. 
Outline in your business plan how you intend to meet clients’ needs and wants as much as possible and show your customers that you value and act on their input.

It can be difficult to decide how much to charge for your services, particularly when you are just starting out with your own business. 
After you do some research and get a ballpark idea of what someone with your level of training could charge, you should carefully consider your own skills and training and determine a price based on that – not what others in your area are charging-