Welcome to Building Business with Bejay.
Every week, entrepreneur Bejay Mulenga interviews successful, young, and innovative people who are the top performers in their field. We then take the complex information and frameworks the best thinkers use and turn it into actionable frameworks.
It's easy to follow, pragmatic, and actual advice you can take to start building a business, today.
The goal is to help young people figure out their strategy and the mentality needed to take action and create something out of yourself.
Let's get into it.
Nia the Loc God
Before diving in, let's break down who Nia the Loc God is (if you haven't heard of her already).
Nia is a former self-taught hairdresser turned into a 20-year-old millionaire.
Nia the Loc God with her signature hair products.
Her brand, Nia the Loc God, is only a little over a year old, yet has already made millions of dollars in sales. In fact, her products are so popular that she once made $100,000 in sales in 13 minutes.
Needless to say, Nia knows how to run a business.
As of now she has over 13 employees, a 6,400 square feet warehouse, and 2 salon suites. All of this accomplished at just 20-years old.
In this interview, we'll break down how Nia got to where she is today. We'll dive into her background, social media strategy, the importance of having a good product, and how to make it in the world of e-commerce.
Nia always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
As a kid, she'd find ways to made a few extra dollars here and there. She'd paint sneakers and sell candy down the street. Back then, Nia was used to not having much money.
She had the $5 her mom would give her to eat lunch, but that was it. If she wanted to buy a lunch worth more than that...too bad.
At 17 years-old, Nia's mom had a friend who was opening an African hair braiding studio, and they offered her a job.
"Why not," Nia thought. She'd been doing her own hair and her mother's hair for a bit, and found it enjoyable.
She ended up making $50 from her first client at the hair braiding shop.
While not much in the grand scheme of things, Nia felt rich. This was 10 days of her mom's allowance in a single go. It made a huge difference. Her mindset shifted.
Nia threw herself into the salon.
Building a Customer Base
In the beginning of her hair-braiding journey, Nia managed to pick up a few clients here and there. From August 2017 to December of 2017, she'd have at most three clients a month.
She hopped from the original salon to a new salon, and began building out her customer base further.
It wasn't long until she was booked every day and working constantly. In her height of being a stylist, she had about 100 clients a month.
During this time, she got to know her customers and what their pain points were.
She understood how to manage locs and what products were needed to make them shine. Many products are on the market were low-value, using cheap ingredients and drying out people's scalps. Nia had coined her own signature mixture, and recommended her clients the ingredient list.
Someone mentioned to Nia that she should bottle the mixture and sell it. Nia ruminated the idea in her head while she moved to her own salon suite in September 2019.
Launching a Product
While Nia was a talented hairdresser, it wasn't something that ignited her passion. It was a way to make money, yet overall, she felt pretty "eh," about it all.
One of Nia's friends mentioned to her that once she began wholesaling, she had made a profit of 50k in under a year. This was what pushed Nia to take her product to the market.
Nia launched her business, "Nia the Loc God" in November of 2019 in her salon suite. She handled the packaging, branding, advertising, and all the logistics in between.
The first launch, she sold 67 orders, 90 bottles in under 45 minutes.
By March of 2020, she quit doing hair, and focused solely on her product line.
Her dream career moved forward.
Purpose in Business and in Life
While Nia wasn't braiding her customers hair, she still was operating within the hair care space. Yet if Nia wasn't big on doing hair, what drove her to open the second suite? What's Nia's vision?
In short: why bother?
For the Community
Nia felt as though there was a need for her product as she was operating within a neglected market. Loc hair care geared towards the loc community is sparse.
Walk into any beauty supply store, and you won't find any high-quality products with high-quality ingredients.
For that reason, this is for the loc community.
Nia strongly believes she was put on this Earth to be a CEO and run her own business. She wanted to build something beautiful for her team, family, and for the Black community as well.
It's why she pushed through the hardships, the slow moments, the small wins. It was because she was committed to fulfilling her dream to make it and make a difference for her community.
Creating a Successful Product
What does it take to create a product so good, that you sell out $100k worth in 13 minutes? How did Nia do it?
Fanbase First, Product Second
The reason for this was because she already had a customer base from her hairdressing clients. Because Nia had hundreds of customers who were familiar with her loc skills and already saw her as an expert, they were more inclined to purchase from her.
Nia was also able to use her time getting to know her client base to accumulate knowledge on what they liked and needed. She understood, for instance, customers loved a peppermint smell in their shampoo. She also knew that this product was in demand: customers would come to her complaining about their locs.
Because Nia spent time getting to know her customers before selling anything, she was able to build out a product that she knew would be well received.
Focus On One Good Idea
In the age of consumerism, the average individual is inundated with choices. Yet this paralyzes the consumer.
Nia understands this well. She chooses to perfect a singular product, and execute it well.
Why waste energy on promoting a plethora of products at once? Nia would rather focus on one thing at a time, and if it doesn't work out, to let it quietly fade out.
It also saves your customer from confusion.
If your product is solving a singular problem, why would there be a ton of options? A customer would begin to ask themselves, "Well, why that set over the other? What's difference?"
Any hesitation from the customer hurts the momentum it takes to secure a sale.
Take the Time to Build a Superior Product
Sure, you could make a quick buck from selling something cheap or from drop shipping. But Nia suggests really taking the time and putting in the effort to come up with something exceptional. It's how you'll be a long-term player.
The one's looking to make a quick dollar won't be in the game for long.
How to Promote Your Products and Business Using Social Media
Evidently, none of this happened overnight for Nia.
One of e-commerce's biggest obstacles is learning how to harness the power of social media. It's the best way to find new customers, make sales, and spread awareness of your brand.
Currently, Nia has over 77k followers on Instagram and 22k on Twitter.
What was her strategy?
Nia The Loc God Twitter
Nia The Loc God Instagram
Showcase Product Results
The usual products available for the loc community aren't doing them any favors. It's leaving the hair dry, brittle, and dirty. It's made with cheap ingredients like petroleum, which actually attract dirt to the hair.
Nia built a superior product with high-quality ingredients that's healthy for locs. Why not show the evidence?
Once people see the results, whether it be from their own experience or from customer testimonials, they become fans.
Play the Re-Stock Game
Scarcity is your friend.
Nia limits the products available at any given time.
It leaves the people wanting more, and gets them excited. They anticipate the next drop, and are ready to shell out more money as they want to buy in bulk. After all, they don't know when Nia's products might sell out again.
When people see the "SOLD OUT" label, they automatically accredit a golden seal on the product. If it's sold out, it must be good, right?
And if they do have their hands on the product, it adds an air of exclusivity.
And those that don't have it, want it even more.
This also helps her avoid extra inventory, which minimizes her losses.
It's also a great way to have incremental growth over time. Exponential growth leads to more stress, and isn't worth it. Taking the time to build out your business isn't a bad thing.
Promoting Before a Sale
Nia is shameless when it comes to promoting your products before a big sale or drop. She'll post the same photo on a loop, counting down the products until they're live and ready to be bought online.
Before a flash sale. Nia’s company blasts out posts on her Instagram page.
Call it flashy, but it works. The more times a potential customer is exposed to your message, the more likely they'll remember it.
Wisdom from a 20-year-old Millionaire
1. Be Prepared to Tackle the Unexpected
One of the first things entrepreneurs have do is equipped for is the unexpected. As the business scales, they'll be met with growing pains and unexpected circumstances. Having the correct mentality to deal with this is crucial. Here's how Nia tackles challenges:
First: Cool Down
If you feel overwhelming anger, let it out. As they say, the only way out is through. Punch the air, scream into the void, whatever. Let it all out, calm down, then regroup.
Second: Call a Close Confidant
When you're facing a problem, you're seeing it through a singular lens: your own. Take a moment to Zoom out, and ask for someone else's perspective. Chances are, your friend, team or family member will look at things much differently than you do.
Brainstorm with them. Ask, "What can we do? What are the solutions here? Is there an alternative?"
Third: Stay Open-Minded and Creative
When facing a problem, your solution lies outside of the box. It's something that won't be directly obvious. That's the point - if it were obvious, you would have implemented it already. Creativity is your friend in this scenario.
One the key ingredients for Nia's conditioner got backlogged, and wasn't going to be available until January.
This was a big problem.
This ingredient was a key component in nearly all of Nia's highest selling packs. These 4-bottle packs lead to about 6,000 items of inventory. Now it was all gone.
Nia had to figure out a solution amidst the anxieties of not being able to pay her employees and disappointing customers.
Nia's mom proposes a new kind of solution: telling customers to place a pre-order. Then Nia's team tells her to switch her marketing strategy, so instead of marketing The Holy Grail (product package with conditioner) marketing The Duo or Trinity, AKA products that don't include the conditioner.
Be resilient, be prepared to think on your feet, and build a team ready to come up with solutions. Oh and, don't freak out.
2. Post More
Let people know what you're up to.
You could be inventing the latest breakthrough innovation, selling amazing hair care, the best copywriter in the world, whatever...
But if you don't tell the world, no one will know.
It's difficult to promote yourself. It can feel self-serving or narcissistic. Yet that's not how people will interpret you.
People want to celebrate your wins, support you, and see you flourish.
In fact, Nia's IG story is so jam packed, it could practically be a TV show. You would think people don't watch it...but they do.
Social media is a long-term game. You have to be willing to post all the time, constantly. Or else, people will forget about you.
Social media algorithms also tend to favor a surplus of content. Each time you post, you have a higher chance of ending up on someone's newsfeed.
3. Make it Personal
When it comes to your business strategy, should you make it a business-facing profile, or should you reveal the face behind the brand?
Nia says: make it personal.
People want to support other human beings. One of Nia's customers recently bought over 37 units of products, and intends on buying more. Why does they need all of those products?
After all, they only have one head.
It's because they want to support Nia and what she embodies.
It's because they love her. It becomes practically a fandom.
In short, people are more inclined to support you when they feel like they know you and have an emotional connection to you. Sharing personal milestones, challenges, and strides of progress creates a band of cheerleaders around you.
People support people who are doing things.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Support
If you have a good product (which you absolutely should) you need to be a beggar. This means getting rid of your mentality of, "I don't want to ask anything out of others."
Get rid of that. It won't make you any more money.
With a good product, you're doing people a favor by asking them to support you. People want to support businesses and individuals who are authentic and making a difference.
Don't be shameful about shouting about your product from the mountaintops.