By Christine Onwuachumba
It is the craze of the moment, an obsession that has engulfed women, old and young alike. It has reached a fever pitch with everybody itching to wear an attractive hairstyle. Of course, such situations turn to a carnival of hair peddlers, making it an all-comers affair. Now, it turns to an agony as ladies are being hoodwinked daily into buying all sorts of human hair claiming to be the real deal.
Saturday Sun came across Akunna Nwala, a trained lawyer from the University of Nsukka whose passion for beautiful hair made her divert from practising her profession to producing and selling 100 per cent woman human hair. A vibrant and boisterous lady, she has become an expert in the hair business through her hairline Kuku. The most fashionable and glamorous women adorn her hair range and there’s no stopping her. She educated Saturday Sun on the intricacies of human hair;
How does one spot a high quality weave?
These days with the help of hair acid bathed and silicon baked, its pretty difficult to differentiate high quality virgin weave from the rest.
First, the smell is a major factor. Once you perceive that chemical sharp smell, which, most times can’t be masked by shampoo perfume, run. It is low quality hair. Second, when hair is too soft to be true, that’s a bad sign. Also, good hair does not come cheap, because each hair donor is paid for the hair harvested from their head in a ponytail. From there, it is washed, treated for lice and wefted, so all these works do not come cheap, and finally as I always say, beautiful hair would speak volumes for itself. Durability, resilience in hair texture would tell it apart and make it stand out from the rest.
From where do you get your stock?
Kuku hair comes from all over the world, wherever good hair is Kuku’s hair would chase after.
Why did you leave law to be a human hair entrepreneur?
The law profession is and would always remain my first love, but beautifying a woman is my hobby, and right from childhood you would see me mesmerized by healthy hair. By the time I was in college, I literally went to the salon every week to have my hairstyle changed. By the time I graduated and was working and could afford to buy proper weaves, you would see me searching for the best. Then my mum, who is very business inclined, though an academic, encouraged me to make money out of this habit and Kuku’s Hair came to be.
How was the transition for you especially since you came from a highly academic background?
There hasn’t really been a complete transition for now as I still have my 9 to 5 jobs which, thanks to my dear mum, she wouldn’t let me quit, because it can’t be heard that her daughter, a lawyer, is a ‘hair trader. Today, seeing what I have transformed it into and my passion for it, she is my loudest cheerleader. I know eventually I would retire into it. At the moment I am still pursuing an on-line higher degree.
Apart from your human hair range, what are your other interests?
I love fashion, I have Kuku’s Closet, which sells mainly shift dresses. I love shoes, bags and makeup as well.
Can Nigerian women compete on the same platform alongside their western counterparts in the business of human hair?
In my opinion, I believe Nigerian hair business has gone ahead of their western counterparts because of the high numbers of the end users in Nigeria, and also the high purchasing power of the consumers here in Nigeria. Most times when my clients are outside the shores of Nigeria, they keep telling me they find people gushing over their hair, including the Caucasians people. The only part of the business that is still striving is the end production within Nigeria such as wefting, etc. and this is mostly because our people are not skilled in that area. Also, the high cost of production is a mitigating factor, but at the end of the day we no dey carry last…. Ever.
What are your challenges?
The main challenge we face in this business is the influx of substandard human hair in the market, which definitely would come at a cheaper price. It inadvertently affects our pricing and sales as well. But the good news is that there are still women who are sticklers for quality, and eventually buying substandard hair is more expensive in the long run as you would eventually end up buying over and over again.
With the flood of supposed human hair touted in the social media and everywhere, what makes yours peculiar?
As I always say, my brand is hair that speaks volumes for itself. Durability makes us stand out. When clients come I don’t need to talk too much to try and persuade them, they just say to me,” don’t worry I know about the hair,”.