There is no typical business day for me. My business has 3 distinct focuses:
- Holistic therapies (aromatherapy, reflexology, hot stone & therapeutic massage therapies)
- Sisterlocks and holistic haircare
- Almocado natural skin, hair and bath products
I work from home, so in addition to growing the business and balancing books there are my three lovely children who need to be taken to (and from) school and of course, let's not forget about dinner, laundry and housework!
What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
I have always loved creating things and working with hair. After graduating
Born in London in the late seventies, I grew up in the Caribbean caring for the natural hair of my friends, neighbours and relatives having learned from my elders. Although I was braiding and twisting consistently from age 11, this was not my mother's plan for me so I focused on school work instead, cornrowing hair for friends and family in my spare time.
In 1996 I secured a scholarship to Cambridge University and, feeling the pull of academic pursuit, I placed my vocational career on hold and returned to the UK. Rather than being the death of my hair styling dreams – I found myself regularly called upon at University to style the hair of both male and female students of African/Caribbean descent. I wore my hair natural at university and continued to do so throughout my 12 year career in investment banking.
After the birth of my son, I decided to officially launch my company as a creative outlet as I intended taking the full 12 months maternity leave. We started with the Almond & Avocado Natural Hair Service, and in October 2010, I enrolled on the annual London SisterlocksTM Consultants training course and have since built up a successful portfolio of regular valued clients.
I added a range of holistic therapies to my business in 2011, having qualified in Anatomy & Physiology, Holistic Massage, Aromatherapy and Reflexology at Distinction level. I also offer Hot Stone Massage as a premium service.
The Almocado product range was added in 2011 as an extension of my holistic services; I added products because so many of my clients would ask me to create spritzes and butters they could use on their hair or skin, so I invested in training and assessments and here we are today!
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I firmly believe the best is yet to come
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
My biggest challenge has been marketing. When you are in the hair care business, everyone expects you to have gorgeous hair - and I did.. right up until I gave birth to my third child. Shortly thereafter I lost all my hair and I am not just talking about the hair on my head. It was a very difficult period in my life, just when things were gaining momentum I lost one of my greatest marketing tools: how could I show that my products were awesome, how could I prove that living a healthy holistic lifestyle was the way to go when most days I felt like crawling under a rock and dying? Thankfully, I did not give up. I soldiered on. I won't say it has been easy because it hasn't. We live in a very visual society, a woman with hair like 'Diana Ross' will find it easier to sell hair products than someone who looks like G.I Jane. A loctician with long flowing locks tends to be more appealing than a loctician with relaxed hair or a weave. Dealing with my 'handicap' as it were as been the biggest challenge I've had to face in this business so far.
Annette(centre) with a colleague and client at 2inspire Ladies Day
What are your future plans for the business?
I want to continue to grow and I want to expand. The past 2-3 years have been about gaining momentum and putting in truckloads of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes to make sure my business has not just a solid foundation but the right foundation. I'm building my house and thinking about expansion. I am opening up the product line to the US market and the preliminary feedback has been positive. I'd also like to get my products on the shelves in Barbados, which is also where I'd like to open my next practice.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have started my company 7 years ago, I would have told myself "Girl, go for it, you CAN do this. It's ok to be afraid but don't let that fear stifle your creativity. " (That way, losing my hair would have had less impact to the business because I would have been more firmly established).
What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
That me showing up (online, at an event, in a therapy room, in a product, whatever ) made a difference to someone in some way.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
- Do your research. Is there a similar product out there? What makes yours unique? Is this a popular product or will you have to create demand?
- Know your market: are you aiming for the penny pinchers or the premium dollars or somewhere in between?
- Plan. Plan.Plan. Do your business plan, your marketing plan, your day to day plan, plan for everything you can think of because you need to make sure you cover all bases (or at least as many of them as you can). Be prepared for what life could throw your way. Think about it night and day before you actually launch it.
I am inspired by female entrepreneurs who have triumphed over adversity. Businesswomen who were told they couldn't and turned around and did.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
"Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve"
To get in touch with Annette or to learn more about the company, contact details are:
Fan Page: www.facebook.com/almondandavocado
Sisterlist UK Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/sisterlistuk/