Editor’s note: Here at Lekki Republic, it is our aim to tell the stories of outstanding and successful business people – men and women who own high performing businesses in the republic (Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island & Ajah) and have built a great wealth of experience and insights in the process. We share this stories to inspire the young and coming entrepreneur, encouraging them to believe in themselves and remain focused while building their own businesses and for the contemporaries of this successful entrepreneurs to also a thing or two from reading about other successful people. Like they say, no man is an island.
Our first feature was on Mr Kola Adewale, founder of popular eatery/club/hotel The Place. This edition features Kufreh Nnah, founder of Kayz place – the popular barber shop and celebrity hangout in Lekki Phase 1.
Enjoy the feature. This article was first published on Thisday Newspapers. We bring you excerpts.
For Nnah, popularly known as Kay, he is not regretting venturing into barbing because according to him, with money, one can always get quality education at any age. He is an experienced barber and entrepreneur with almost two decades of experience and two major offices one on the Island (11 Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1) and the other on the mainland( 35 Adeniran Ogunsanya Way, Surulere, Lagos).
With over 60 staff working in both locations, Nnah’s Lekki shop is always a beehive of activities and his professional services have attracted the top echelons across both the Nigerian corporate and entertainment sectors.
Some of his clients include: Femi Otedola, Femi Fani-Kayode, Don Jazzy, Julius Agwu, Naeto C, Patoranking, Kiss Daniel, Ycee, Davido, Wizkid, Iyanya, Burna Boy, D Prince, Shank, Tekno, AKA, K-Switch, Dbanj, T-Billz, Wande Coal, Samklef, Sean Tizzle, Eldee, Timaya, Sele Bobo, Young L, top MDs of banks and many others.
Narrating how he started his business, Nnah who is an indigene of Akwa Ibom state said:
“While growing up, I lived a normal guys life; I wouldn’t say I suffered, as I always had money to spend, and within me I had resolved not to work for anybody, because; then I used to spend about N6,000 to N10,000 without even thinking about it, so how much would an employer pay me as a secondary school graduate to guarantee that kind of spending?
“I grew up like every other person. I attended St. Luke New Trans School in Uyo, from there I proceeded to Government Technical School, Uyo and Senior Technical College, Abak.
Nnah added, “After my graduation I sought for admission into higher institution for several years, but all efforts failed; out of frustration I gave up on that dream. While I was in the technical school, I used to have a saloon and that was where I get my pocket money from. When I graduated from secondary school, my dad asked me to go and manage the saloon myself; something I never learnt how do. Before then, I employed people that are working at the barbing saloon.
“I wasn’t serious with the business but my dad kept disturbing me to the extent that when my friends come to see me at home, he will chase them away saying that I don’t have anything doing other than keeping friends.” One day, he said his dad chased away the two barbers working for him.
He told me, “If I wanted to be collecting any money from the shop, I should be doing the hair-cut myself.
“Initially I was against the decision because I still had some money with me but after about two weeks, when the money with me had gone down, I was forced to open the saloon and started cutting hair myself something that I had not previously learnt, and that was how I started barbing hair.
“I continued for about a year and half without the basic knowledge to cut hair, until I decided on my own to come to Lagos. In July 2005, I came to Lagos to visit my brother. While I was at his place, he kept on disturbing me about following him to his work place.
“One day after much pressure, I decided to follow him and then I stumbled on a saloon in Lekki. I had never seen any saloon as big as that, I was already used to seeing all those small saloons in Uyo which had two to three chairs. This particular saloon in Lekki had about 13 girls and two barbers; I liked the place and I told my brother, he spoke to the manager who happened to be his friend and without any interview he asked me to come and resume anytime I was ready; that was how I started as a barber here in Lagos.
“I worked there for about seven years before I decided to leave. I started my own barbing business in April 2012. While I was working, I joined a contribution group to help me save. My target then was to set-up something that would give me an extra source of income; so I started the contribution with N10,000, and later increased to N20,000, we were about 10 people and every month one person takes the whole of the money contributed.
“So with the little savings I had in addition to the contribution I collected, I set-up a bar at Ajah. I started the bar with about 35 chairs and 7 tables; after about six-seven months, I upgraded the place to over 100 chairs and 25 tables, while I was still working as a barber for someone.
“But when you establish a business and hand it over to someone, it would be mismanaged. I wasn’t getting money from the business. So, I decided to sack the guy to run it myself. At that time I did not have any savings due to the fact that the guy I employed at the bar had run me down.”
Also, that time, Nnah disclosed: “business was not really moving well because of the numerous fights at Ajah then; people were afraid of coming out to drink. After like a month, I was able to raise N200,000 from the home service I rendered outside the bar business, that was in 2012 and also, there was this friend of mine that came from Akwa-Ibom to Lagos for his NYSC, he wanted to go and rent a place to stay but I told him to come and stay with me, he obliged and stayed with me for one year.
“During the period of his stay, I did not bother him financially; so at that time I was able to save up N200,000, I was told that there was an available shop with a rent of N500,000 at Lekki, I went to check the shop and discovered that the owner of the shop was my customer, he told me that he was only interested in business and that he would only give me the shop if I had the money to pay; I appeal to him to give me two weeks to raise the money but he refused.
“After I left the shop, it wasn’t up to 30 minutes he called to tell me not to worry about the shop and that he had seen someone who was ready to pay N550,000, I still tried to beg him and on the long run he told me that he would only listen to me if I can make available N550,000 before 9am the next morning and it was already past 4pm in the evening then.
“On getting home, I told my friend staying with me and he was able to raise some of the money through his friends. While I was still working as a barber, I sponsored my younger brother who studied architecture in school; at that time he had graduated and was doing some little jobs, so I called him and explained the situation of things to him, he said he wasn’t really buoyant but that he will send me the N60,000 he had that was around 5pm, this gave me a total of N460,000.”
While struggling to complete the money, Nnah said: “one of my customers called me to come and cut his hair in his house, this happened to be one of those customers that always advised me, but because of my state of mind I told him I refuse to take his calls. He continued calling and I later went to cut his hair.
“After cutting his hair, I told him the reason I refused to take his calls initially. He gave me a cheque of N50,000, this took the total of the money I had to #510,000 and before 9am the next morning, I was able to transfer N500,000 to my prospective landlord account.
“After I had sent him the money, I called and pleaded with him to give me 1week to pay up the balance. That same morning after I left the bank, one of my clients, who blocked my calls because I was disturbing him for home service called me and I went to see him and after cutting his hair, I told him that I have paid for a shop and he gave me a cheque of N100,000, and immediately I called a furniture guy and others to come and do the basic things and that gradually I was able to make it a standard saloon and today, God has made me. It was divine intervention.”