African-American born entrepreneur and business strategist, Candius Diallo is the founder of LaVerita Hair, a thriving beauty and hair care brand based in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up, Candius experienced first-hand the many frustrations that accompany hair care, as a woman of colour. More so, she began to wonder why hair extensions were never produced indigenously in Africa, considering the fact that African women were unarguably the largest consumers of these hair extensions. Candius’ desire to seek – and find – a solution to the problem of finding authentic and original hair care for the African woman set her on the business path. The goal was clear from the start: To offer women an exquisite, luxurious and rich experience in hair care.
In this interview, SCHICK sits down with the undeterred businesswoman to discuss her fast-growing enterprise, maintaining a competitive edge and the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship.
Prior to moving to Nigeria, what was your impression of the hair and beauty landscape and how did it compare to the reality?
I wouldn’t say I had an impression; rather, I knew that women of colour all over the world purchased some sort of hair extensions. I also knew that I wanted to be an agent of change in that industry – a change that favoured women of colour. The reality is that I made a really good choice.
How did the concept for La Verita Hair come about?
I would say, mostly from my experiences, the passion borne of that and product demand witnessed all over the world.
Can you describe the consumer you had in mind when building this brand?
I imagine her to be the epitome of style and grace. She knows quality, she’s well-travelled and she’s not fooled by counterfeit products or passing fads. She accepts her own texture and is not ashamed; she just wants versatility/options and for her hair to reflect her mood.
In the early days of the business, post-launch, what challenge surprised you the most?
There have been – and will always continue to be – challenges. Because it was a completely new business, from employees to customers, I had difficulties, but I kept reassuring myself that they would soon turn into accomplishments. At the end of the day, they’re all part of my success story waiting to be told.
“I strive to be the best, so the best is the only thing I know how to offer. Striving for excellence is my niche.”
What steps did you take to carve a niche for La Verita Hair in a largely competitive market?
My particular market isn’t competitive, if I do say so myself. I have created a luxury salon, with a lounge and salon that is a manufacturing company that customises on-site (that even includes fine dining). You see my point? I simply did it my way. I strive to be the best, so the best is the only thing I know how to offer. Striving for excellence is my niche.
What are some of the most common mistakes you find hair extension consumers making?
I wouldn’t say consumers make mistakes; people buy what they want or what they have seen. There are no mistakes in this industry, just a lot of choices to make, and we all bear the burden to stay well-informed concerning those choices.
In your opinion, what???s the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
For me, it’s being able to make a positive difference, impacting clients, our family of employees and the industry we are catering to.
What factors have contributed most to the success of the business?
Allah (God), my passion, my absolute commitment to success, as well as my strong belief and sheer determination.
What keeps you motivated?
It’s always been my faith and my vision. I focus on these two always!