I’ve been natural for 10 years and I confess, I do like trying new hair care products. I was a product junkie for a while because it was a struggle to find products suitable for my thin curly hair. Back in then, I only knew two online shops to purchase products from. Things have improved over the years and there is a better variety produces to choose from. Before Christmas Nancy Tanikye-Buah and I chatted about her online store, The Empress Parlour. The Empress Parlour stocks British Black-owned hair care and skincare products (but not exclusively so). Nancy Tanikye-Buah took the plunge to leave her Public Sector job and follow the call her entrepreneurial spirit. Nancy’s built a business and a brand on a passion of hers … hair. Not even Covid-19 has slowed her drive. This is the Nancy Tanikye-Buah interview.
About Nancy Tanikye-Buah
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m British-born to Ghanaian parents. I’ve always been based just beyond West London and I’m privileged to be mother a teenage son. had a vivid creative streak. I’ve always full of ideas.
What was the catalyst for starting The Empress Parlour?
Following my Law degree, I worked in the public sector, in housing for over a decade. My career had run its course and I was feeling restless for a new challenge. II saw that there was a lack of black ownership in the hair care arena on the high street and I wanted to be a part of it. Instead of talking about it, I took action. II always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Having a business that merges haircare and entrepreneurship – is amazing. I love what I do. In fact, my hair has always been natural because my mum never allowed me to relax it. African threading was the norm throughout childhood. When I was finally allowed braids, I felt special and empowered at school (being only one of 3 black girls in a mostly white school of 300). I was constantly being asked questions about my hair by friends and teachers.
The Empress Parlour’s Unique Selling Point
What differentiates The Empress Parlour from other online beauty shops?
Well, there are 3 main things:
Choice: We currently stock over 200 different products and more are being added on a frequent basis. We feel that choice is very important. We want to give our customers the chance to choose a shampoo or a hair moisturiser from a wide range of different brands (from the UK and US).
Supporting UK Black Owned Companies: Within the traditional online beauty shops and similar high street ones, there is a massive space for the US big name brands – Shea Moisture, Organic Root Stimulator, KeraCare, but where are the platforms for our home-grown British brands? What The Empress Parlour does is to support our UK haircare and skin care brands. I’m a business woman who’s passionate about partnering with small and medium sized beauty businesses. It’s important to champion the very talented creators who are right here in the UK.
Natural-Based Products: Black women are more product savvy than ever before – leaning towards hair & skin care that are more natural-based & with less harmful chemicals. We spotted a gap in the market where traditional outlets haven’t made these types of products readily available, preferring to collaborate with larger corporations with mass produced hair products. The Empress Parlour makes these types of products accessible & customers can take advantage of this through our free delivery service that is available on most products we stock.
What has been your best customer feedback to date?
We actually received a Christmas card from a regular customer who had told us she somehow managed to get 9 other people from her workplace to order from us! Her personal recommendation got us more customers and it was the highlight of our Christmas that she’d been sweet enough to let us know.
Being an Entrepreneur in the time of Covid
How has Covid-19 impacted your business and the way you work?
We have seen a rise in sales as the lockdown restrictions have increased and lessened over the past several months.
With us, our customers can speak with us on our customer care line number. So, our customers are contacting us via the phone a lot more, mainly to make queries about products. I believe it may be to do with not being able to walk into a shop as much anymore and engage with someone face-to-face.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a business in the current socio-economic climate?
Do your research! Ask yourself whether people want what you are selling and why should they buy from you – differentiate yourself from the competitors. Think about being flexible with how your business operates in relation to current events. When all is said and done – Go for it!
The Future for The Empress Parlour
Where do you see the business in the next three years?
We will be continuing on our journey to making big waves in the Afro hair and beauty industry and to becoming a household name across the nation in Afro hair care and skin care.
I hope you enjoyed Nancy Tanikye-Buah’s interview. To find out more about The Empress Parlours and the products, visit their website. You can also find them on Instagram. If you missed any of my previous entrepreneur interviews, CLICK HERE.
How do you wear your hair? What do you shop for your favourite brand? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.