UGOCHUKWU Igbokwe is the gentleman behind Make me, a beauty and hair palace. Having been in business for over eight years now, he has made hair for a lot of celebrities. Ugochukwu has acquired a storey building on Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos, where he is establishing an ultra modern beauty palace which will soon open for business.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with him about his sojourn in the beauty business, his new place and lots more.
Can you tell us the story of Make me, when did the journey start?
This journey started in 2004 but I started nursing the idea of having a one-stop shop for hair beauty in 2003. I mean, our new branch now. I have always had Make me in mind. I wanted a name that will interpret my entire dream and future plans, so I decided to take Make me. We opened a small shop in 2003, but God helped us get to where we are now.
Why are you into a female dominated business, way back in 2003 men were not really into the beauty business. Why the choice of beauty business?
Mine was totally different from others that might have similar story to tell. I went into the business basically because of money (laughs). Though, while growing up, I have always wanted to be a footballer, but as life and times will have it, I found myself working in a salon, a unisex salon. I realized that the female section was making a bit more than the barbing salon, so I made up my mind to go in the female segment.
It’s almost a decade now, what has been your staying power? A lot of people started after you and they are no more there today?
God is the number one factor. Then I will say I am determined, I stayed put to my dream, I didn’t allow anything to make me think otherwise. I am most grateful that God gave me my wife. I think that is the most powerful strength around me. We are into the same business, she has kept me on check, kept me on track till date.
How challenging has it been and what are the challenges you have beaten?
It is more challenging than you can ever imagine. One is the fact that you cannot have a life again, absolutely no life. I don’t know anything like holiday again, the period people are going on holiday, that is when I am busiest, that is when I work into another morning. Family also becomes a big task. You also have to put in a lot of energy, you have to put mental work into it in order to strategise, be a stylist and business person at the same time. It is very, very challenging.
What are the styles in vogue now?
A lot is in vogue and a lot is to come. What is in trend or in vogue for others is what we call basics in Make me. Before it turns a trend out there, it has been in Make me. At that point, we try to start something new, we are pacesetters.
How do you control female attention, especially the older women who want to dictate to you, ask for your attention alone?
Yes, there are a lot of female clients that are very commanding and demanding, especially the older ones. It is normal to have people like that. When it happens, it makes me realize that I am working, it is like a pat on my back. I enjoy it a lot. Such is the nature of the business, but some people can also be very sweet.
How affordable is Make me because this place is a classy salon and class comes with clientele?
Make me has everybody in mind. As far as we are concerned we wouldn’t segregate. In a salon setting, you don’t have to do that. Every woman must look good. We have services for all class of clientele, nobody will come here and say that is too high or that is too low. Everybody will enjoy our service irrespective of their class.
Congratulations on your new place.
When and how did you acquire this place?
We acquired this place sometime ago, but we started renovating late last year.
We learnt it is worth N20 million?
(Laughs) I can’t put any amount to it. We thank God for the grace to be able to achieve this dream.
Looking at the equipment, they must have cost a fortune, can you tell us how much you have invested in this place?
We have a lot of new equipment that have never been seen in Nigeria before. We are doing it to satisfy our clients. But, let us leave the monetary aspect please.
What are the things on offer here?
We have different sections, a private section inclusive, a place where you wouldn’t be disturbed. You will have a room to yourself. This is a membership salon with reward. We are also introducing permanent nail polish that can grow with the nail.
Can you tell us some hair maintenance tips?
Try as much as possible to take off whatever is on your head at least after one week. For natural hair, you need to do that. If you can’t do that, any product used on the hair wouldn’t be effective.
What do you say to the young ones going into this type of business?
You must hear from your God, it is very important. Then ask Him for guidance, after that, you need to stay put in what you hear from God. It is important you don’t let friends, relations interfere and distract you. Stick to your vision. I didn’t get here in one day, a lot of people want to get there overnight, it doesn’t come like that. Plan and follow your plan to the letter, do your feasibility very well, understand where you are going, understand when the storm will come and how you will overcome it. This business is not one of those things that I do, it requires full attention, you cannot combine it with other business if you want to make a success of it.
Do you see Make me venturing into the manufacturing of beauty products?
For now, we are still into styling, making people beautiful than grooming. We are still into creating styles, I like the artistic part of making hair, maybe in the nearest future, we can consider it, but it is not for us now.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 10, 2012