For International Women's Day, femafric had the honor of being featured in @arianadiariesblog by the amazing, inspiring, thought leader, Ariana Oluwole(if you haven't heard of Ariana, I need you to please do your Googles like ASAP)!!
Check out the article below:
MAFEI JAMES SHARES ON CREATING CREATIVE SPACES FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa, mostly known for its beautiful beaches and countless other stories of hard work, courage, talent, and hope. Contrary to what a google search may tell you, Sierra Leonean women and girls over the centuries are raised with a unique penchant for craft, skill work and trade.
Popular opinion ranks white collared jobs as the prerequisite for sustainable income and prestige. However, it’s skills that spin money to finance our girls and women to raise families and lead communities. Consequently, these same skills ensure that lost culture and heritage is preserved for generations yet unborn.
On this International Women’s Day, we meet with a young leader and entrepreneur who describes herself as a spunky and quirky hair enthusiast that loves hard and enjoys getting things done.
Mafei James believes that for a sustainable future, young women must be encouraged into livelihoods that guarantee them a solid financial framework. She believes in talent identification and management, maybe because her main hobby made its way into becoming an income generating machine.
Hair has always been something that she is good at, and passionate about. She learned the craft, as a kid, initially to save her mom money on what she would pay to get her hair done. Over the years, it evolved from doing her friends’ hair to growing a large clientele.
She describes hair braiding as fun and creative.
"It’s artistic and makes people feel good about themselves. I love the connection I make with my clients/customers. I especially love being able to assist in their personal beautifying process".
The Formation of Femafric
It was only a few years ago, when crochet braids started making a comeback. It became the most requested style for her clients. Mafei thought the crochet install was way too simple to do. So simple that she thought her customers won’t need her to install for them. This is when she got curious about selling hair products instead of just installing.
What at first started as a way to make extra cash quickly became its own business. At the time, she didn’t envision that the brand would turn into a full-on business — she was simply trying to find an extra stream of income to pay bills.
She wanted to make something unique instead of just offering her clients the same products that you can find from the beauty supply store. After doing research, experimenting with a few clients, and receiving positive feedback, Femafric was born.
Femafric is an e-commerce hair brand that manufactures handmade crochet hair extensions and hair care products sold primarily in the United States. Femafric is 100% woman owned and operated, focusing on protective styling.
Most of the time if you want a really good quality braided wigs and crochet braids from the continent, you could be waiting up to two months for your hair to be delivered or you might find that you are paying way too much on shipping. Through research, Mafei saw that she wasn’t alone in the wait and displeasure. That was when it started looking like an opportunity to service customers that didn’t want to wait too long to get their hair.
Like a flash of lightning, she knew what she needed to do, with some of the money she had saved, she purchased some business cards, a plane ticket, a few bundles of hair and an LLC. It was also a little dose of ambition that pushed her to take the trip to Sierra Leone so that she could train and begin production of hair herself.
Combining her love for braiding hair and always wanting to address societal issue for women in Africa, Mafei created a platform where our beauticians braiding skills are now expanded to a global marketplace.
Fast forward to today, Femafric now employs 10 professional beauticians to bringing colorful and unique designs to life with intense attention to detail and quality. Femafric's most popular product are the Mini-Fro Cee Twists, a tiny spring twists.
The Hills and The Valleys reecho our CriesThe journey has not been without highlights and low points; Mafei tells us that "for so many reasons, it’s always great when we get recognized in publications. Its great to be recognized, it brings necessary exposure. However, with that exposure, it creates a demand that can be overwhelming when it happens unexpectedly. Learning about inventory forecast and customer management — I had no clue about these things, so I had to figure them out and build a system that worked for me and my team. It was huge hurdle to build that foundation but now that it’s in place, we make tweaks as needed."
People respond positively to the company's products. Many compliment how lightweight the products are on the hair. Check out Femafric and shop: www.femafric.com
In the near future, femafric plans to launch braided wigs and hand beaded headbands. Mafei plans to expand the brand to other hair products and, eventually, open a salon. Long term, she will continue to build Femafric up, as a leading, trusted beauty brands, and sell it.
When we asked her about one behavior or trait that she has seen derail people in the fashion and or lifestyle industries, Mafei looking exasperated said trying to do/be everything for our customers at once.
She believes that we must get good at doing one thing really really well first. It’s overwhelming for you, first of all, and also overwhelming for the audience you intend to serve. You really need to niche down to give your self a chance at success.
Are you about to launch a new venture? Then you must take a word of advice that Mafei got from someone: “Passion’ don’t pay the bills”. While passion plays a role in how dedicated we are to our work, tangible results distinguish a hobby from a business. As much as passion can be the driving force behind a specific task or project, it doesn’t make up for lack of productivity and time management skills.
Mentoring a Forgotten Skill
When we learn from peers, people who are making it and others who are unafraid and unashamed to share from their mistakes we get the needed rails to trailblaze. Every girl and woman must position themselves to learn from people especially other women who are breaking the bias in their communities and industries. Mafei has two women entrepreneurs that inspire her and she has taken time to learn lessons from their work:
Julian Rado– Adwoa Beauty: her transparency and enthusiasm is so inspiring.
Vivian Kaye – KinkyCurlyYaki: I love that she is unapologetically herself and managed to find success in her own way on her own terms.