how she did it

Case Studies // The University Entrepreneurs...

The University Entrepreneurs

Female Entrepreneurs of the Week 16th July 2012

Full time university students, Rae & Joyce,  decided to set up Afrocenchix after making hair oils in their university kitchen. Not only are they still studying full time, but they’ve now started to produce and sell their own products as well has winning a prize for innovation from the University of Birmingham. Read their inspiring story below.

What does your business do?

Afrocenchix presents a fresh range of natural beauty products by blending naturally sourced ingredients with know-how and a dash of creativity.

We believe that taking care of your hair and skin daily is just as important as taking care of any other part of your body as around 70% of what we put on our skin ends up in our bloodstreams. Afrocenchix products are free from harmful chemicals and nasty parabens which block the pores and lead to dry hair and breakage. We specialise is Afro-Carribean textured hair and offer free hair care and styling advice on our website. We also offer healthy diet advice and much more.

What made you decide to start your own business?

Afrocenchix was born when Joycelyn made herself some hair oils in her university kitchen after trying many products which didn’t work for her hair. Having read up on the qualities of different natural oils and the benefits they can have for the skin as well as the hair Joycelyn gave some of her homemade blends to her good friend Rachael, who had been complaining that she had suffered yet another allergic reaction to a body moisturiser and was sick of prescription creams for her eczema which only seemed to make the skin more sensitive. Upon discovering she wasn’t allergic to it (and Rachael is allergic to almost everything) Rachael grew overexcited and demanded that they make some more! A test batch of massage oils and hair oils were made and distributed then after plenty of research, a few market stall stints and a prize for innovation from The University of Birmingham, we launched our essentials range and are working on more products as you read this!

Frustration over the lack of natural hair and body products available in the UK combined with finding it difficult to learn how to care properly for Afro hair were part of the fuel that lit the Afrocenchix fire.

What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Our biggest challenges have been time and finance. All of the Afrocenchix team are in University full time and most of us work part time, growing a new business with little financing and no experience is hard, but not impossible.

How did you overcome these challenges?

We work hard to balance our time and plan effectively so that we can get everything done that needs doing! We are still working on securing finance in order to expand.

What advice or tips would you give to other business owners?

Expect it to be difficult, fun but very difficult, and maybe not always fun. Once you decide that you are prepared to put in your full effort keep at it, never give up because if one person likes what you do, there is potential that millions can love what you do!

What’s your favourite quote?

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.”

— Malcolm Gladwell

Who inspires you?

For doing what many thought was impossible we are inspired by Madam CJ Walker was the first Black female Millionaire in the United States, she made her Millions making hair products for Afro hair!

In business today, we are very much inspired by Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright who set up Innocent Drinks, the smoothie company after asking the public whether or not they should quit their jobs and follow their dreams.

We also find Shingai Shoniwa to be an inspiration due to the way she overcame a difficult start in life and rose to excellence in her music. We love that she rocks her unique style and natural hair in an industry where looks are everything and manages to show that afro hair can be fun, modern and beautiful.

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