“I was born to be an entrepreneur. I have never worked for anyone and from a young age, I was already running my mother’s block industry and hotel for her. My duties included keeping the books, paying salaries and procuring materials. By the age of 15, I was running my sister’s interior design company ‘Century 21’ as well as her show room. All this and many other businesses I managed for the family prepared me for HGI.
In 2007, I bought hair from a store in Lagos, which I spent a lot of money on. The hair was fake, tangled up badly and didn’t meet my expectations which is when I realised that a lot of women had to be suffering from similar problems. At the time, I wasn’t happy in the business I was engaged in, I wanted a way out and with the access I had to travel world wide, I thought why couldn’t I research and find this hair myself and in turn give women their money’s worth.
Anuli fondly remembers having an affinity for taking care of hair from a young age thanks to her mother’s Indian neighbour. ‘I would wash, condition, comb, plait and treat her hair. The Holy Spirit said to me “I have prepared you for this since you were a child, go ahead”, and that’s when the research and plans started’. My good friend Ijeuru loaned me $5,000 which I added to what I had and I took the leap of faith. HGI kicked off from the boot of my old Murano jeep in 2008 and my first 10 sales were courtesy of my dear friend Dedee who bought my most popular texture, which I named ‘Molado’, for $5,000. She paid cash and I was able to pay back Ijeuru’s loan and turn a profit too. From that day onwards, I was determined to make HGI a success. I started without a store, lugging around small suitcases which I took to meet people at their offices, homes etc. Eventually, in 2008, I managed to open a 9 square meter store in Lekki.
In 2009, I moved to a 25 square meter size and now, HGI resides in a 4 bed flat which is, for now, our flagship store. I have been in Lekki since I started and I’m comfortable in this area. With time, I’ve grown from a retailer to a wholesaler. Your mind set must be switched on to be an entrepreneur. It isn’t fun or easy to own a business. There’s no safe landing, you must pay bills and salaries whether you make sales, a profit or not. You must be ready to fail. Every day isn’t Christmas, be prepared for the worst, be ready to work hard, to focus ,to lose friends and most importantly, start small so you incur less losses while you learn and acquire experience. Like marriage, no education prepares you for eventualities. As a business owner, I know there are people who have been expecting me to fail, I have chosen to disappoint them and for the younger women and even older women who my tenacity motivates and look to me for advice and motivation, I keep going because I know that God who called me to this is faithful enough to sustain me and there remains a need to be a provider of quality hair and service.
When asked about the best types of hair, Anuli is nothing but honest, ‘Indian, Brazilian and Cambodian. All these other names are marketing strategies but women like variety so they eat it up. I have chosen to keep my integrity, I won’t lie and give non-existent names to make a buck. When they go all over, they still come back. Quality cannot be compromised at HGI.”
Check out the full interview the February/March edition of Pride Nigeria magazine.