When anyone thinks of studying law and lawyers, “busy”, “hard”, “tedious”, or “time-consuming”, is what will come up. Many think it is not possible for lawyers to engage in any sort of extra activity. Well, 25-year-old Rachel Apusiyene dispels that myth.
In early 2019, she began to retail bonnets from a supplier, stemming from a haircut she had. Eventually, she decided to start her own bonnet business. So many bonnet retailers had sprung up on Instagram and she wanted to make a difference.
So, when she got extra money from a service she rendered on behalf of a friend, the next thing to do was to start Bonnet Haven. She shops for the items needed to make her bonnet and together with her team, Bonnet Haven trademark bonnets are made. She is both the manufacturer and the retailer.
Now, she not only retails bonnets but gives out hair advice to her clients on both natural and relaxed hair.
The biggest question was how she was going to keep up with law school while managing a business she is determined to keep for a long time. Well, Face2Face Africa caught up with her and she had some interesting things to share.
How did Bonnet Haven come about?
It came about when I cut my hair. I was looking for tools to help me grow my hair naturally because prior to that I had always had relaxed hair. I didn’t have any so I started retailing for someone and then I decided to make my own.
What was your first business strategy to put yourself out there as a legitimate brand? We know there are a lot of scammers on Instagram.
I didn’t have any business strategy. It was just put yourself out there and see what happens. Inadvertently, looking back maybe I can say that having real people do photoshoots for me was it. I didn’t walk about with a strategy as I worked. I had real people with real Instagram accounts do a photoshoot for me and I posted it.
Wow, so how many bonnets did you start with and what were the reception and feedback like?
So I started on 11th June 2019. I made my lady make some 20 pieces for me then I started selling on 13th June 2019. In a week I had finished the 20 pieces so I plowed back.
Interesting, so you are in law school, everyone knows how stressful that is. How do you combine it with your now booming business?
I try, but something suffers and it’s usually the business. It will be really dishonest of me to say that I have everything in place, but oftentimes the business suffers because school is very demanding and it’s a sole proprietorship so I rely heavily on the benevolence of relatives so when all your friends are also law students like you the business must take a break.
You still managed to make it look easy, but what makes Bonnet haven so different?
2020 to 2021 a lot of bonnet shops sprung up and about 90% of them are not in existence now. For me it wasn’t a fad. It was a serious business I wanted and registered and I’m serious about. I’m not selling a fashion accessory, I’m selling tools to help you grow your hair so when you market it as a fashion accessory it’s going to go out of style like many fashion pieces. When its something that is essential to the growth of her hair you’re always in business and that’s what has set us apart.
Amazing, so what challenges did you face in the beginning and what challenges do you face now?
Initially, I didn’t think of them as challenges, but over time, dealing with customers, finding a reliable delivery partner has been a headache for me because sometimes I’m in class, writing exams, studying and people want prompt responses when it’s not physically possible. Now, my challenges are accounting, keeping my books goods and ensuring prompt deliveries, but they’re not insurmountable. I’m working on it.
When you finally become a lawyer, what happens to Bonnet Haven?
That’s a very hard-hitting question. When it gets to the bridge we will cross it, but it’s not going to be a problem because I have been attempting to put in a prosperity plan for the business and when I become a lawyer even though I may not have more time I would have more income so that would afford me the opportunity to add on more hands and think of better and convenient ways to run the business.
It is as difficult as one may think because law school is not an easy venture, but Rachel puts the ‘E’ in law school to make it easy.