|Industry:||Other Services - except Public Administration|
|City:||Victoria, British Columbia|
|Amounts:||various Find what funding programs you qualify for|
When Nichola Watson moved to Victoria, B.C. in 2003, she worried she wouldn't be able to find good hair products and services locally. "Hair is an essential part of most women's identities," she says. "And for me as a black woman, it's extremely important because of the texture of my hair in terms of someone who can care for it when I donít want to." With professional business planning for her newly started business, Watson can now apply for funding to cover her marketing expenses.
Soon after arriving, she met Catherine Woodely, who was working in government at the time. "She was the first black person that I met, so I got to asking where I can get my hair done, and she mentioned that there were people working in their homes." That, along with care packages of products her mom and sister sent her from Ontario, did the trick for a while. But a seed had been planted for a business idea. While you could find skilled hairdressers working from their homes, and some salons offered some services, no salon offered full services for clients with textured hair.
Watson, a social work professional specializing in mental health and addiction, was currently unemployed in 2008 when the idea got serious. "Catherine and I have always spoken about it, but we really got together in 2008 and talked about the salon in concrete terms. At the time, I wasn't working, and she was thinking about reconsidering her career." They continued to plan the business during 2009, inviting a couple of other partners into the business, and opened up Afro Diva on March 27, 2010.
As the salon's website relates, "Afro Diva is a full service hair salon providing hair, nails, and skin care services to clients on Vancouver Island; specializing in textured hair and hair care products. The niche market is textured hair clients living on Vancouver Island, mostly females age sixteen and above, with varied income, and diverse lifestyle. Victoriaís ethnic mosaic has been shifting since the early 1990s with an increased immigrant population. If we are discussing the growth in Victoriaís Black Diaspora, a conversation about families with textured hair and hair care products fits within this discourse. These individuals want an accessible salon that will consistently provide excellent service, quality products, enjoyable atmosphere, a forum for learning, and at an acceptable price. They desire to leave a salon with improved physical appearance and mental relaxation."
In addition to regular hair care, Afro Diva is ready to handle a number of special requests. "We have bi-racial clients who may have scalp problems with their children, and they ask us to recommend products or alternatives or additional information," says Watson. "We provide the information free of charge, and that's some of my main work; there are so many things to research, it could go on forever." She laughs. They've also recently launched a new spa program, which includes facial threading, body waxing, massage and foot care that goes beyond ordinary pedicures. "And additionally, we're launching classes for parents, guardians or caregivers of textured-haired children," she says. "We have a lot of families, who've adopted or who are biracial, but they don't know how to care for their children's hair." In addition to focusing on research, Watson writes and uploads content for Afro Diva's website, and she produces a regular newsletter for clients and potential clients.
In order to add the spa services and beef up the salon's marketing, Afro Diva's founders knew they'd need additional funding. And that meant an updated, professionally prepared business plan was important. "The business planning was fantastic," says Watson. "It was a matter of getting our team together, and researching and providing that info, and getting some really critical feedback on relevant items. It was a great process for our team."
"I think it's really courageous for people to start any form of business," says Watson. "But before you do, know or love what it is that you want to explore. And don't do it for the money, because you'll be disappointed." She laughs. "Your initial goal must be that you love it, and you're committed and you're going to follow through on it. Get your business plan and get some great advice, free or whatever you can afford, and go for it. Why not?"
Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-855-892-2506.Please note our Centre is not affiliated to programs profiled in the above article and no claim is made that funding is due to our Centre unless stated.