A WOMAN who started selling hair oil to just two customers at her 9-5 job has revealed her haircare brand is approaching a six figure turnover just over a year after it launched.
Imane Berkani, founder of bia, spent £50 on ingredients to make a hair oil in her garage that she could sell to two of her colleagues suffering from hair loss.
It was a struggle she was familiar with since her locks fell out when she was a teenager and she turned to essential oils to help grow it back.
The 29-year-old’s haircare brand – which sells hair oil and tools – is now set to turn over £100k in the next 12 months and is in talks to be stocked at a major retailer.
“When we first launched, I was so shocked at how many people bought the oil,” Imane, from London, tells Fabulous for our Bossing It series.
“I didn’t think anyone was going to buy it. This year we’ve just been going from strength to strength.”
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Imane started making hair oils four years ago after ordering £50 worth of ingredients online. Her first customers were two ladies she worked with in a sales job.
“I brought the raw materials and was just mixing them myself in my garage,” Imane says. “I also created a guide and sold it all at work.
“I only had two customers but I still loved doing it.”
She decided to sell the hair oils on Etsy under the branding of Samson Hair, but only received a few orders.
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Imane soon came to realise that Samson Hair wasn’t the brand she wanted to represent her products and went back to the drawing board.
“I wanted to make a brand that looked good enough to be stocked in retailers,” she says. “Bia started during the Covid-19 lockdown when I created a YouTube channel and it got a lot of traction.
“I was really surprised at how many women viewing my videos suffered from hair loss.
“I started off doing videos on different oils and giving tips on how to use them, but people started requesting me to sell my own oils.
“I wanted to do it properly that time round, so that’s the beginning of bia.”
Bia stands for ‘beauty in all’, a name that Imane feels “has a lot of emotion behind it”, and the brand was officially launched in May last year.
Imane used social media to generate hype around the launch and made 34 sales on her first day.
Bia sales are currently up 182 per cent on this time last year.
Imane hails YouTube as the secret to bia’s success and believes the video sharing platform has helped her save thousands of pounds in marketing costs.
“Organic traffic is one of the best ways to grow a business,” she says. “I had a really bad experience with a marketing company and I lost money with them.
“So before investing in advertisements and things like that, I think doing your own marketing on the likes of TikTok and YouTube is a much better route.”
Imane was initially making, packaging and shipping all the orders herself alongside her 9-5.
“That was really challenging,” she says. “Now I have a fulfilment centre that does it all for me, thankfully.”
In the near future, she hopes to see bia lining shelves in the likes of Selfridges and Boots, as well as upping her output on her YouTube channel, Imane Belle.
Imane’s Top 5 Business Tips
- Passion Make sure you're passionate about what you're doing and there's emotion behind your business
- Be the customer Tap into your customers' needs so you produce products that they'll actually want
- Embrace set backs Always put a positive spin on things that go wrong as it'll make you more resilient
- Use your network There are so many people in your life that can help you with your business, whether it be for UX Design, insider knowledge about industries you want to tap into or to connect with stakeholders
- Social media Do most of your marketing on social media channels like YouTube and TikTok. It's free and fun to make content!
Imane was inspired to start making hair oils after suffering from hair loss during puberty. She was prescribed a number of medications to try but nothing seemed to work.
“I really dove into scientific studies and learning about natural ingredients that help promote hair growth,” she says. “That’s how I was able to uncover ingredients to make my own oils with. I just bought them online.”
Imane also bought a small scale on Amazon so she could mix the ingredients accurately before selling the oil at her 9-5.
She also signed up for free ‘mixology’ courses online to learn the science of hair oil formulation.
A bottle of bia’s Super Roots Hair Growth Elixir costs £29.99 for 50ml and lasts three to four months if you apply it to your scalp three times a week.
It contains rosemary, pumpkin and green tea oils, among other essential oils to nourish your scalp.
Alongside the oil, bia also sells a 1.5mm derma roller for £18.99. It consists of 192 individual stainless steel needles that make incisions in the scalp to promote collagen production and hair growth.
“I’m pretty confident that out of all the dermal roller brands out there, we’re the only one that has real needles,” Imane says.
“I’d say that 90% of derma rollers on the market have fake needle discs because they’re easier to manufacture.
“But if you take them apart, they’re actually triangular knives made out of titanium. Whereas ours are made out of stainless steel, which is used in medical tools and surgery.
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“Our needles go in at a neater point and make micro-incisions, rather than micro-tears like other ones on the market.”
To further level up your scalp care routine, bia sells a £11.99 massage brush “that stimulates blood flow and exfoliates the scalp for hair growth”.
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