Fashion & Lifestyle

Abbyzimpression | Exclusive Interview | #MyComeUpStory

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The biggest lesson I have learnt since I started my company is that business is not just about profit, it is more about satisfying a need. You are not likely to satisfy a need by making profit, but you are likely to make profit by satisfying a need.

Brand Profile

Abike Gbenga-Kareem

  1. Current title/company? What’s your motto?

CEO/Founder / Abbyzimpression Enterprises.

“Everything Hair”.

  1. Year you launched the company.

Abbyzimpression has been running since late 2013 but became an officially registered company in 2014.

My ComeUp Story

  1. Educational background? Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?

I studied psychology in the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. I graduated in 2011. My secondary School education was in Unique Heights High School, Magodo Phase 1, Lagos where I completed my studies in 2005. I was the senior prefect girl in my final year.

I would say I am self-taught because I fell in love with hair. The first hair I purchased for sale was from a store in Marina. I pestered my fiancé so much on how I wanted to be a ‘hairtrepreneur’ so bad that he found a store in Marina and took me there.

  1. What sparked your interest in fashion? Describe the journey of creating your first piece?

What sparked my interest in hair, especially human hair, was fulfilling the need of an average Nigerian girl to be able to buy good quality hair just like the celebrities but at an affordable price.

I purchased my first hair bundles with 20,000 naira. 10,000 naira was from my savings and 10,000 naira was lent to me by my fiancé. He was kind enough to also cover my transportation fee. I was only able to save 10,000 naira from my salary because you know in Nigeria, once you start working, you start having responsibilities.

I can’t remember how many packs of hair I bought but I remember I bought a few bundles of labelled hair. I started advertising by disturbing my contacts on BBM and WhatsApp till they bought from me. Lest I forget, my colleagues at work were very supportive of my business by patronising me. The profit made was invested back into the business which has brought us to this point we are now.

  1. How did you start believing in your own work and talent? What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?

I have been told severally that I am stubborn so I made good use of this quality. From the first day I went to the market, I was determined to not give up till I made Abbyzimpression a career I can fall back on when I resign from my 9-5 job.

What made me take the hair business seriously were my determination and the responses from people. Even men started to contact me for hair for their friends and spouses.

  1. What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?

The biggest lesson I have learnt since I started my company is that business is not just about profit, it is more about satisfying a need. You are not likely to satisfy a need by making profit, but you are likely to make profit by satisfying a need.

  1. Breaking into the fashion industry isn’t an easy feat. What advice would you give to up-and-coming designers? Marketing tips?

My main advice is for you to believe in yourself and have faith. There’s not a thing in the world that prayer can’t fix. Find what you are good at, what you are passionate about and think of how it can benefit others.

Every detail is important and getting feedback from customers is REALLY important. Business is not over after a transaction; it continues with finding out if the customer is enjoying the product not just for the sake of your social media pages but because you really care. Remember, word of mouth is the best form of advert.

  1. Do you recall any embarrassing moments you had during your come up?

I don’t recall any embarrassing moment but I am sure I have had one.

  1. Tell us about a time you were faced with insurmountable odds, yet persevered to overcome.

I ordered hair that cost quite a lot for a customer early in my business and for that kind of amount, I wasn’t experienced enough to know how to ask for a commitment fee. When the hair was delivered to her, she said she did not need it anymore that she had braided her hair. I ordered for that hair using my little profit and my salary. My business almost crashed. I cried and cried. Because the hair was VERY expensive, it was difficult to get a buyer. I had to sell it at a very low price compared to the cost price so I could get money to restock.


My Daily Behind the Scenes

  1. What is your typical week day and weekend like? What do you do when not working?

My typical weekday is spent in my 9-5 job. Believe it or not, I still do an office job. I have people who work with me to grow Abbyzimpression. I have Ajoke Keshinro who is my personal assistant. My siblings and parents help out especially my only sister, Ireayo. My fiancé has also been a strong backing. He takes care of business when I can’t. And I have Max delivery NG for my logistics. I do most of my work from 6pm till midnight if need be. I take most weekends to restock

When I am not working, I am out with friends or reading or sleeping.

  1. Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration is from the weirdest place, the social media. Watching the struggle behind the “I wanna be’s” “the fake life” inspires me to do things that can reduce the stress by making it possible for a young woman to still fit into the crowd without cutting her head off (figuratively) to look good.

  1. How did you initially source materials and manufacturers?

I first sourced hair bundles from Marina in Lagos. However, as my popularity increased on social media, I was approached by some manufacturers. This has helped me a lot by making it possible for me to compare prices before I give my clients the best possible price of the hair before purchase.

  1. How do you produce and distribute your designs?

I import human hair on special request for some customers. Also, I help some customize their curls to suit their needs.

  1. Once you have the product, how do you get the word out?

Once I have the products, I get the word out on social media, via emails and text blasts.

  1. Do you scope out the competition, or are you so tailored in your aesthetics that isn’t necessary?

Scoping out competitors is good for business. As a result of my research, I discovered most online stores deal with VERY expensive hair which made it easier for me because Abbyzimpression cuts across everyone. All our grades of hair are good quality but of course, some grades of hair last longer than others.

  1. What songs do you listen to that psyche you up and makes you feel strong?

I believe in Nigerian songs hence; I am a huge YBNL fan especially Olamide. His songs inspire me; I see where he is coming from, I see where he is and it reminds me that hard work pays. My best song of his is “Anifowoshe”.

  1. What is one thing you do when you are feeling stuck creatively?

When I am stuck creatively, I either play, gist, listen to music, or do anything to make me relax. The one thing I never do is sleep.


My Now, My Future

  1. What would you like to achieve before the end of 2016?

Before the end of 2016, I want Abbyzimpression to be a bigger and more popular brand. I want my upcoming online store, an affiliate of Abbyzimpression for jewelleries and shoes called Abbyzstore, to grow and be better known for its affordability and comfort because at Abbyzimpression, we are all about our client’s comfort and satisfaction. Furthermore, I want Abbyzimpression to be a wholesaler and allow others learn to sell with the most ridiculous capital. Other dream achievements; watch out for them.

  1. What is the most meaningful project you have done? What would your dream project be?

The most meaningful project I have done is Abbyzimpression itself, I researched hard, learnt so many things, learnt the process of hair making, curling, fixing, weaving, everything I thought necessary. I didn’t want to be a CEO who didn’t know a thing about her products. That for me is my most meaningful project.

My dream project will manifest in all our sights and become reality. Let us all watch out for it.

  1. What’s one dream you’ve achieved that you’re most proud of and why?

One dream I have achieved and I am so proud of is that I have been able to make women look good without breaking the bank.

Why? I wanted so much to see women especially young women not have to beg men, steal or sell their bodies just to buy ‘hair’.

  1. Name a charity you are passionate about & explain why it matters to you. How do you show your support?

I am passionate about helping truly needy people. It matters to me because I don’t like to see anyone unhappy; it breaks my heart to know someone is suffering.

I show my support through the same social media that supported me. I am not one to recount or brag about the things I do to help others but all I can say is God helps me help others through the social media he used to help me too.

  1. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your teenage self?

If I could go back in time, I would advise my teenage self not to cry when something goes wrong because breakthrough is closer than I sometimes realise.

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