Five Minutes With Stella Lucien
Stella Lucien co-founded Afrocks.com with Hervé Despois and Régis Rolnin with the aim to make finding a natural hair stylist in London easy. She took five minutes out to tell me more about her brand.
What made you decide to set up your own beauty business?
Being passionate about Afro natural hair was the first drive. Afrocks was founded by Hervé Despois, CEO and Régis Rolnin, CRO and when they asked me to join them as a co-founder on the project, it was like an evidence to me. I have been involved in the Afro natural hair movement since 2003 when I stopped relaxing my hair and transitioned to wearing it in its natural state.
This was the beginning of a journey towards self-consciousness and a healthier lifestyle. At that time we did not have as much information available about how to take care of our Afro natural hair and very few hairdressers to help. Luckily I was introduced to an online discussion group of women taking the same path where we could learn together by sharing our knowledge, experiences and tips.
Afrocks’ vision is to offer a credible, reliable alternative to women and men who do not wish to use chemicals, or simply want to see their African hair features normalised. As I share this vision, being involved in Afrocks allow me to share my experience and contribute positively to a topic I am passionate about.
What is the concept behind Afrocks?
Afrocks is an on-demand platform designed to eliminate the stress of finding good quality afro hair beauty professionals in just a few clicks. Clients are able to search, book and pay for an in-home appointment with a highly skilled and fully vetted stylist for a variety of hair styling services such as locs maintenance, box braids, cornrows, Senegalese twists, faux locs and more. We wanted Afrocks be easy to use, so our website features a clean design and a slick user path; and it is responsive on mobile, tablet and laptop. To sum it up, our concept is natural hair care made simple.
What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of service your customers needed?
We didn’t do a sharp quantitative research before launching, but we gathered a few numbers here and there about the afro hair market. Some of these numbers were quite interesting. For instance, Afro-Caribbean women spend six times more on hair than any other ethnicities in the UK, plus the market size was worth an estimated £4bn. But what really convinced us that there was a market for it was our pre-launch campaign. We setup a landing page explaining the concept and asked clients who would be interested to sign up. In a week we got nearly 200 people signing up in London.
How did you decide on the look and feel of the brand?
In terms of feel of the brand, we first looked around at what was going on in terms of design and benchmarked it. We were especially paying close attention to US start-ups. At the end, we decided to go for something simple, minimal and sleek with a big focus on visual user experience. There are still a lot of improvement to make but we are quite happy with the first version of our product.
What are your future plans for Afrocks?
Our short term plan is to expand Afrocks’ services to other major UK cities such as Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool; and to expand the range of services offered with makeup and bridal services. We also aim to launch an app in 2018 and we will be looking for investment. In the long term Afrocks is looking at being available across Europe, US, Canada, the Caribbean and Africa.
What are your favourite beauty products?
As I prefer natural and chemically free products as much as possible, I tend to use basic beauty products such as shea butter, coconut and other oils, essential oils or black soap, for instance, which are perfect for hair and skin. Luckily we also have good brands of such beauty products we can rely on. For skincare my favourite are Weleda Iris day cream and the Nubian Heritage range. I recently tried the daily facial scrub from Fruganics which I really love. When it comes to makeup I like the mineral range from Bellapierre Cosmetics and the new brand Bouche Cosmetics is next on my list to taste!
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business?
The first thing I would advise is to research the industry and similar businesses but also have a long term vision of what you want to achieve, so you make decisions and take actions accordingly. Networking and partnering are essential; being around like-minded people and entrepreneurs will inspire you and help you keep motivated.
Last but not least, be passionate, patient and relentless as you will certainly come across period of time when everything goes wrong or is in slow motion and that’s the way it is. Allow yourself to make mistakes but most importantly learn from it.
You can follow Afrocks on Twitter.