She built the business from nothing to a household name in Sweden “Salon Safari” A well-known African salon shop in the heart of business district in Gothenburg. Her name is Saida Sheik, who also owns a salon in Stockholm called Global Hair. In this interview, she revealed the secret to her success, her experiences and challenges of doing business in Sweden.
Where did the idea of running a salon shop come from?
My husband and I had wanted to start a business and decided to open a store. Initially, we were selling Somalian clothes and African products but that changed with time and we stopped selling clothes.
What were the challenges you came across in the beginning and how different are these challenges from the ones you face today?
One of the biggest challenges we encountered was the lack of money to start our business. Not being able to get a loan made things harder for us, so any money that we needed had to come from our pocket. We had to be tight with very little money we had in our wallet to be able to save enough money to open the business. Eventually, we got past the hardships and have become more stable.
Running a business is a challenge and you have to be committed to it. It affects every bit of your life. My husband and I have put everything we had into our business, we are always working. The work does not end in the shop it continues at home and having raised three children it has not always been easy.
What makes your business stand out from others?
In both our offices in Gothenburg and Stockholm, we are able to offer good services at low prices to our customers. Most of our customers are young, so it is important for us to keep our prices low on our products. Besides from our low prices we run a webshop where anyone can easily order for any of our products and have it delivered to their doorstep.
How has your business changed to keep pace with the customers?
The market has changed a lot, when we started we were selling clothes as well which we stopped because of change in the customer’s demand, however looking at our salon at the moment you can see that it is not a salon for Africans only, we attend to all customers. Ninety percent of our customers are Caucasians while the remaining ten percent are Africans. We sell African hair to skin care products, besides from that we do hair braiding, hair extensions and dreadlocks. We have also developed our own hair extensions called Pure Soul which are added to the numbers of products that we sell.
What is the key to your business success?
Good management has been very important to our business success and being able to handle money in a smart way and investing it at the right time on the right products.
What plans do you have to expand your business further and who are your customers?
Opening up franchise is in future plans whereby we encourage anyone that wants to open a salon with our name is welcome and we will train them for free and give them all necessary support.
Our customers cut across all age group and are very mixed in racial background, but the majority of them are young.
What piece of advice would you give to those who want to become entrepreneurs or go into the same business?
They should be ready to save money and be ready to work very hard. It is a full-time job that never ends at the office but rather continues at home, so you have to be fully committed to what you are doing and do it with passion. Being patient is also very important because you cannot always expect profit after the first two to three years. Going into the business with a mindset that you are going to get rich is unrealistic. With good management and hard work, you will be able to generate money.
Our last question is what do you think you would be doing right now if you were not running your company?
I have always been good with language and I think I would have been working as an interpreter which was what l was doing before I started my business and it was fun doing it.