Satin Bonnets For Afro Hair
My idea for starting a business came about in the Autumn of 2019 after the corporate company I worked for made the decision to close one of their sites. This unfortunately meant hundreds of staff would be made redundant.
It wasn’t until early 2020 when I’d accidentally made my first sale. Leading up to this time I had gained a small following on YouTube, having previously posted natural hair tutorials, product reviews and the occasional vlog. I had began sharing my journey into the wonderful world of small business and can only assume one of my followers found the website and placed an order. I say this because at this stage I was still designing the website and listing products. I had zero knowledge of SEO so doubt the website ranked in Google. I remember that evening I rang my one of my brothers for advice, is this legit, should I fulfil the order ect. I also called the customer service agents from the website hosting platform who confirmed it was in fact a genuine order. I remember emailing the customer and asking if they’re happy to wait a few days for me to fulfil the order or whether they would like a refund. That was my first sale and I knew it wouldn’t be my last.
A DM kick started it all
My inspiration for starting a handmade satin bonnet business was almost unplanned. I initially launched selling apparel, T-shirts and Hoodies. I brought a heat press, plenty of vinyl, transfer paper, circuit cutter and some blanks and started printing at home. I started to run into some problems quite early on. There were huge delays with the suppliers and I believe this was before the pandemic. I would place wholesale orders for supplies and either not receive the items or have to wait a very long time. I always knew I would somehow incorporate hair products because natural hair is what I’d been showing on social media. It was one day when I was on Instagram and I one of my friends asked me if I can make bonnets. Now I didn’t really think much of it, I thought everyone can make bonnets, scarves, stockings because people have been wearing them for years to protect their hair. My friend had said the ones she gets are rubbish. I asked if they’re made a certain way, she said no. From there I sent her one straight away I think it was a silver one. I started posting them on Instagram and I believe Satin bonnets and scarves were the first products into the hair care collection.
We put tights on our head
Growing up I’ve always protected my hair when going to bed. I remember wearing a lot of stockings. This is where you’d make a skull cap out of a pair of tights and put it on your head to sleep in, or you’d wear a satin scarf. As a 90s baby satin bonnets weren’t a thing, we’d either use a stocking or a scarf. This was something I’d see my Mum wearing, both my grandmothers, aunties and cousins, this was the norm and a way for us to look after our hair.
I dedicated my time to hand make my products and made a shift to solely focusing on protective hair accessories. I’d set up a table in either my bedroom, living room or small corner of my home, this then became my studio space. An area for me to make my patterns, cut and sew my fabric before packaging and shipping to customers around the world.
Having a degree in the Arts and being familiar with a sewing machine definitely helps with the sometimes laborious task of manufacturing your own products. It wasn’t until my recent break from the business that I learned my handmade business is actually two business’ in one, manufacturing and retail. I feel after three years of trying to grow the business I burnt out. I needed to take a step away from the business to truly understand why I started the business and why I loved making my products. Use this space to tell readers what they should do next.
I want my business to be known for being the best black owned UK business that creates high quality satin bonnets and pillow covers. I’d love to reach a wider audience and scale up. During the course of the business, I have tried different social media platforms, sales channels, and marketing places to try and reach more customers. I think in the future to grow the business I will need to revisit a market place. I’ve sold products on Ebay and did quite well, but I’m unsure how well handmade items will do on that platform. I have tried Amazon FBA and Amazon handmade; however shall I say we had a few issue with the warehouse loosing stock. So, I’m a bit nervous when it comes to selling on that Amazon. I know some businesses a thriving on there and Amazon has a massive audience but I just couldn’t make it work for my business. I think it’s fair to say Etsy is viewed as the King of handmade. I have previously sold on Etsy but quickly deactivated my account due to the fees. I know terrible right, maybe I should’ve stuck around, who knows maybe I’ll return. I feel as a handmade business every penny is critical. I’ve defiantly drilled down on my analytics and margins a lot throughout my time as a business owner. Even things like payment processing fees are often over looked. As a business owner these are things we need to know about and stay on top of to run a successfully business.