Mind Your Own Business Series: Harriet Cudjoe – Founder and Director of the @Afrotherapy Salon

DSC_0124 It is my pleasure to feature the award winning stylist and entrepreneur Harriet Cudjoe (nee. Kessie) in my MYOB series!

Harriet founder her salon in the early 2000’s along with her (now) husband Joseph Cudjoe. Both Harriet and Joseph attended the February Keziah CONNECTIONS event and it was wonderful to get to know them both a little better.

What I have admired about Harriet throughout her career is her unwavering desire to bring excellence to the afro hair industry and she clearly has a passion and a vision for what she does.

She is certainly a pioneer and an expert – her extraordinary talent and commitment to the industry has seen her styling hair for over 20 years, winning numerous hairdressing and business awards along the way and her work being published in both the trade and consumer press.

The North London salon was also one of the first to be selected by L’Oreal to stock the Mizani range.

I recently caught up with Harriet to pick her brains on what it takes to become a business success story!

BPL: Tell me about the your business when did it start and how has it grown over the years?

HC: My business started in 2001 as Harriet Kessie Hairdressing. The business expanded to include afrotherapy.com, an online shopping service for premium hair and beauty products. We merged the 2 businesses in 2009 to create a single brand for the salon and online service re-branding the salon to Afrotherapy (afrotherapysalon.com) at the same time. We continue to grow and 2013 will see the launch of additional services.

BPL: What were the major challenges you faced whilst growing your business?

HC: Every business has its own unique challenges. In the hairdressing industry staff recruitment and retention is always challenging. We try to overcome this by developing and training motivated young talent. The industry is also competitive and it’s important for us as a company to be creative and innovative in order to remain ahead of the competition.

BPL: What inspired you to start your business?

HC: Both of my parents were business people and so from an early age, I knew it was something I wanted to do. When I realised I had a gift for hairdressing, I decided to use that to form a successful business.
I love the fact this industry is so vibrant and creative with lots of opportunities. My passion now is developing young talent to become the next generation of fantastic hairdressers.

BPL: Did/do you have any mentors and what lessons have they taught you?

HC: I have learnt from lots of different people, many of whom have mentored me ‘indirectly’, but I specifically remember one of my former Pastors who was always very encouraging. She would challenge me to achieve my dreams however big they were. I am also inspired by those in our industry who have been successful in their chosen areas.

BPL: Your business has won several awards – how does one develop an award winning enterprise?

HC: I believe winning awards is a by-product of excellence. I always encourage my team to be excellent in everything they do. We set high standards for ourselves and strive to consistently meet them.

The 2013 Collection

BPL: You are a wife and a mother, as well as a successful entrepreneur – how do you balance running your business with family life?

HC: Running a business can be difficult and lonely at times and it’s important to have the support of family and friends. I have been fortunate to have had the support of my partner right from the beginning of the business. Since becoming a mother, my first priority is my family and I plan the business around my family. Without doing so, the business can easily take over your life.

BPL: What advice would you give to other aspiring beauty entrepreneurs?

HC: Build a good team around you and don’t be afraid to delegate. You can’t do everything yourself. Work hard and enjoy yourself and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve

BPL: What are you most proud with regards to your business success?

HC: I am always proud when I see people I have trained doing well and progressing in their career. Being a mother now, I’m also proud to have a successful business that can I can pass on.

You can vist the Afrotherapy Salon at 235 Fore Street, London, N18 2TZ. Call 0208 345 5621 to make an appointment.

*************SPECIAL BPL/KEZIAH CONNECTIONS OFFER****************

Use the promotional voucher below to save £20* off any Hairdressing service! This offer is valid until the 31st of March 2013- so do not delay in making your booking!

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