Heroine - 1. A woman noted for courage and daring action.
2. A woman noted for special achievement in a particular field. (from freedictionary.com)
Introducing August Heroine Entrepreneur.....
......Laquita of Bobeam Natural Hair Products
1. Tell us about your business, products, services and what makes it special or unique.
Under the Bobeam Natural Hair Products I sell shampoo bars, hair teas, conditioners, moisturizers and accessories. Little to my surprise, I guess outside of the natural hair care world not everyone knows about shampoo bars so many first-time buyers consider them to be very unique. The shampoo bars contain no SLS or SLES, detergents, surfactants, or sulfates. They are all-natural, 100% vegetable soap, non-comedogenic, hypo-allergenic and biodegradable.
Also the hair teas – are unique as well because they way they are package in actual tea bags.
2. How was it birthed? What sparked the development of it?
Bobeam Products came about by way of me trying to create a shampoo bar that wasn’t drying or felt like it totally stripped my hair after washing. I started playing around with mixing oils like Shea Butter and Olive Oil in the shampoo bases and after many trials came across a formula that worked well for me. I started making them for myself then giving them away as gifts for my family and friends. My mother suggested that I start charging people who kept coming back for more.
3. How did you begin?
I decided to start selling the shampoo bars online. My stepfather, who is from Ghana came up with the name ‘Bobeam’ it is from the Ghanaian language Twi – and means 'the way it was created' and it characterizes all of the shop items - they are all handmade. I decided to start by setting up and Etsy.com shop to see how the shampoo bars would sell. Once they started to do well, I added the hair teas and other items.
I still liked the idea of giving the bars as gifts – there are so many people who would like to incorporate natural products into their routine but can’t afford the high prices – of course, I realize in order to keep the business going and me from bankruptcy I have to charge something for the items, but I try to keep the prices as low as possible. Also I use proceeds of the sales to go to various charities as well as a way to give back to those in need.
With the new accessory line, I plan to give at least 50% or more of all proceeds to charities. The proceeds from the sale of the Bobeam flower clips will go to the 1 in 8 Foundation.org (via KimzWimz Cancer Awareness Blogtalk Radio Show titled 'Detection Detectives')- to aid in the fight against cancer.
4. Have you always been in this particular field? Do you have a history in this area?
My mother has been in every type of own-your-own business venture there is from Mary Kay to Organic foods, being surrounded by all types of products and observing my mother's 'one women show' and hearing her repeatedly say "Be your own boss" inevitably led me to start my own business venture, and since I am a fanatic about all things natural hair, and love researching, and experimenting with essential oils, butters and herbs natural hair products is a business I will never get tired of.
5. How much support did you receive when you first started out?
I got lots of support from my family and friends – who pretty much all said the same phrase “it’s about time!” when I told them I would start selling products.
6. Is there anything that you wish you would have done or handled differently?
The main thing that I would have handled differently is actually ‘starting’ the business. I talked about selling the shampoo bars for years before I sat down and set up the site which took only minutes to do.
7. What was your biggest hurdle in developing your business?
The biggest hurdle was me – I didn’t think I would have the money to start a business, i.e. for packaging, supplies, labels etc… But once I got started I saw that it didn’t require much at all to get started.
8. How did you stay motivated or what kept you motivated whenever you hit a bump/pothole in the road or a difficult time? Or what is keeping you motivated?
My main motivators are the customers. I have been getting so much feedback and it is very helpful. I love all feedback whether from people who say they love everything and from those who say something doesn’t work well from them. I love tweaking the products/ingredients – being a ‘kitchen chemist’.
9. There are quite a few women who are seeking to do what you’ve done. What advice would you give them?
The main advice would be to do your research – check out other people who are doing what you want to do or similar to what you want to do, especially those who are succeeding. If possible check out what their customers are saying – find out where there is a need and fulfill it.
The next thing I would say to those seeking to start a natural hair products business or any business venture is to – (borrowing Nike’s tagline) – “Just Do It!” Again, I talked for years about starting a business and it just took minutes to do so.
10. Is there anything new & exciting that we can expect from your business in the future?
I have just started testing new scents for the Bobeam Shea Moisturizer (which is my first ‘fragrance scented’ product. I also plan to add more hair accessories. A Bobeam frequent buyer/referral program is in the works. And I will be adding more charities with opportunities to donate by purchasing items.
Needless to say, I had to encourage Laquita to share all of the other numerous things that she does. Some of you may be more familiar with her following resume points. So go ahead and share, Missy. =)
Aside from making natural hair products, I work full time as a transcript editor (editing financial earnings calls from oil, textile, fashion, medical and the food industry as well as CNN/MSN/Bloomberg news captions). But I am trying to break into the freelance writing business, I would love to use my Journalism degree and combine it with my 'obsession' with natural hair and turn writing natural hair articles into a business.
To build up my 'freelance' resume, I write for and contribute to several online publications. Most know I write natural hair articles for Clutch Magazine, but aside from Clutch below is the list of others.
Clutch Magazine - latest article - interview with T’Keyah Crystal Keymah
I'm the DC Natural Hair Examiner for Examiner.com
I contribute to Afro Glitz online Magazine/Societal Networking site
Kinnks.com - Monthly Guest Blogger - I will be writing about the business of natural hair
ebraiding.net/eNaturlas.net - where I'm an Advisory Board Member and newsletter contributor (I’ll also be contributing to its upcoming International Sanata (natural/braid) Magazine that will be launched in December)
Sign up for the free newsletter and customer discount card here - http://www.ebraiding.net/index.php
I also have a couple of blogs, All Naptural Blog and Naptural Hair Story, which is a work-in-progress novel I'm writing centered around natural hair.
**A note for Laquita**
You are one of my SHE-ro's!! Thanks so much for taking time out to do this interview. You have and continue to be one of the kindest and most supportive women that I've met in the blogosphere. I am truly fortunate to have made your aquaintance. May God continue to bless you, your family, your business and many ventures. Sending much love and positive energy your way.