If you have not seen the video feature with Taryn, you definitely have to so click here!
She dropped so many gems we had to summarize the top five things we learnt from this trail blazer about building a female African brand:
- Build a Business born from your lifelong passion: From the onset its very clear that Taryn was made to build this brand. It seems her whole life was leading her to the moment of creating perfect hair because clearly, the brand was born in her childhood and it grew throughout her personal Afro journey. The brand is born out of a clear demand in the market that she experienced personally and she created a product that meets that demand; again drawing from her own life experience, through the hair care needs of her mother, herself and scores of women around her. So if you are thinking about starting a business, don’t look far for what that business should be about, look around you, look at where you come from and build a business that responds to the needs of yourself and the people around you. Just make sure it is something you are passionate enough about that you are willing to go through the inevitable heart break that comes with enterprise.
- Trust the process. Taryn studied Literature and today she owns a hair and beauty brand. And that literature degree that took her to media, which further upskilled her to learn the dynamics of the African consumer market, allowing her to have the tools she eventually needed to start her own business. This part of her story is important because so many young African’s come from an upbringing where they didn’t have much choice as to what they would study and I have come across so many gifted people that feel stuck in a career chosen for them. It’s not the end unless you decide it’s the end. Whatever job you have now, trust that it is giving you the skills you need should you make the leap to entrepreneurship. I believe whole heartedly that every entrepreneur must definitely get some nine to five experience; I consider this even more important than a degree. I am not saying education is bad but it is not for everyone where as in Entrepreneurship; degree or not, requires discipline that surprisingly you learn quite effectively through a nine to five. So trust the process, take your time and learn what you need to take you where you want to go.
- Know your consumer! I was personally impressed with how well Taryn knows her consumer and I have so much respect for the work she did into researching their consumer, engaging with the consumer throughout the production cycle in order to create a product that answers to the customer’s needs right down to the tiniest detail. And she is maintaining this engagement with the customer in the way she communicates the brand in all the ways that customers have access to engage. It makes me so excited to continue watching the growth of the brand and as a customer myself, I am very happy to know that Perfect Hair products are bio degradable and that the aloe comes from a farm in Mossel Bay! You get me Taryn! And you have to get your customer, not only based on their needs today but also their growing needs for the future so your product can grow and evolve with your customer.
- Slaying Giants is fun! Taking on the African market does feel like a David & Goliath situation for most of us entrepreneurs let alone female entrepreneurs in a Patriarchal Africa. But the prospects are also very exciting! We are exploring and discovering new ways to do things, new products for our people, creating a new lifestyle and a new narrative for Africa; it has to be fun. The fulfillment you get from seeing something through from idea phase to product on shelf, the empowerment you get from satisfied customers who are willing to give you their hard earned money because you make their lives better, that ish is priceless and worth all the initial fear you will face when you see that big giant in front of you. Like Beyoncé said, if her country a&$ can do it, so can you. And remember have fun always!
- Know what you’re selling: Perfect hair does not sell consumer products, they sell self-love. I bought into her brand a little bit more because of this. If there is something us women, all women but even more so for us black women, need in this life, is to be taught how to love ourselves. And not loving ourselves in the way that we were told (get married and have children above all else!) but in the way that starts with us accepting our black and the kink that comes with it, learning to love, nurture and take care of it and shining as we naturally are in the world. Am going all wax poetic on you simply because she knows her stuff, she knows her customer and entrepreneurs who know their stuff turns me on! There has to be an emotional connection to your customer for every product especially if your product is a consumer product.
It gives me hope for our continent that women like Taryn are out here using their unique knowledge of our black culture to create products and in tangent businesses for us as a community. Because that’s how we really turn the switch off on poverty in Africa; by building brands for us by us.
FEMALE AFRICAN BRAND SPOTLIGHT: TARYN GILL