Imelda Iyayi is the CEO of Ivy and Rose Beauty Company, an outlet that deals in lace front wig which changes ladies look and transforms them. It also makes them look like they have a better hair textures growing from their scalp. Iyayi, in this interview with ADA DIKE, tells of how she climbed the ladder of life, what makes lace front wig unique and her marriage.

Why did you go into lace front wig business?
I lost my hair during my first pregnancy. So I made some enquiries and found out that lace front wig is good. Later, I underwent thorough trainings in London about wigs and brought it to the Nigerian market. A lot of people in Nigeria did not know about it then though it was expensive.

From where do you get supplies of lace front wig?
Some want it to be custom-made, so basically, I have my donors from Brazil and USA. But as I said before, I want to start bringing in people into Nigeria who will actually manufacture it from here so that I don’t have to travel and I’m looking forward to that. We have machines that put the hair on a mesh immediately it is cut off. It is very durable as you cannot just pull off the hair just like that because there is special glue for it, that is why it looks very natural. Even if you attempt to pull it out, it does not come off because it is fixed around your hairlines, so unless the lady is unlucky because the glue can only last for about six weeks.

What are your present plans towards the sales of front lace wigs?
Presently, we are trying to bring machines for the production of the wigs into Nigeria for distributors to come and make purchases from us as wholesalers. The lace front wig is a wig, the difference between this wig and other wigs is that once it is fixed to your hair, it looks like your natural hair, like it is growing out of your scalp or your hairline. Therefore, it changes your look and transforms you and makes you look like you have a better hair texture growing out from your scalp and this is what makes it unique. We have people selling processed human hair but I deal in the human hair the way it is. Immediately it is cut off from the owner’s head. All I do is to put it in a mesh and sell.

Who are your clientele?
My costumers were mostly first ladies, managing directors and chief executive officers of companies when I introduced it in Nigeria. It is expensive because it is real human hair. The price ranged from N250, 000 upwards. But now we have cheaper ones for N95,000 depending on the length you want and the type you are looking for. If you want it custom-made as some of the first ladies, it cost much more than N250,000. For this type, you get to say what kind of hair texture and colour you want. For the first ladies, I wouldn’t want to mention names because most of them would want it to be confidential, as they’ll not want people to know that it is not their real hair.

Are you satisfied with the patronage?
I will say I’ve been blessed. The patronage has been good. You know it is not like every other business. My kind of business is seasonal. There are seasons when it is low and seasons when it is high. But in all, I will say it has been good and super, even though it is not the regular type of hair attachments in town and it is cost effective. It is not something for every woman but when I say it is human hair I mean it is human hair. It is for life. All you need to do is you take it off, wash it and fix it back on whenever you like and you can style it into any style you want. Therefore, you don’t get to buy weave-on every now and then, and each time you fix it on again, it is as good as new and that’s why if you have it, you don’t have to keep on going to the market to buy hair extensions.

How is it cost-effective?
Now you look at this situation: By the time you keep buying weave-on and wigs, calculate how much you spend on going to the market to buy them and the cost of buying them over and over again in one year, plus the money you’ll spend fixing and removing them. Believe me; you’ll spend more than half a million naira. But you can have just one lace front wig as long as you wash and maintain it. It is as good as new every time you wear it and it is tangle free and the best of it all is that it is just like your hair.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Like I said, I was flying for about ten years. I got married and was ready to start a family. In the course of getting pregnant and having a baby I lost my hair, and I was very devastated and I was just wondering what I would do to remedy the situation, so I went into research. I did a lot of research, and then I came across this thing about lace front wig, used by most celebrities around the world. I continued my research and went abroad for training in that line and I discovered that I could use it to cover my hair. I thought of it that this is something that will sell very well back home, if people know that they could get good quality hair that can last and last for years and not just months and still maintain its good quality. That was how I started and that was how I got inspired into the business.

Can you recall your childhood days?
I had a very good upbringing. I grew up in a very strict and disciplined background with many values. I had very strict parents. We were not allowed to play until we finished our homework and prepared for the next day. As a child, I knew what I wanted out of life and that made me a kind of a rebellious child because I wanted to be an engineer and my dad felt that was not a field meant for a woman that he would rather want me go for medicine. When I gained admission into the university, I was offered Accounting and I just jumped at it even though I didn’t like being an accountant, I preferred medicine. However, I just concentrated on graduating and I thank God I came out with good grades. I’m from a family of five girls and one boy, and I’m the last of the girls and I was not allowed to have a boyfriend until I was out of the university, which was the only time you could conceive the thought of having a man. I’m from a Christian background. I had most of my education in Lagos. I did my first degree in Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife, where I obtained a degree in Accounting, and then I moved to England where I obtained another degree in Beauty, Lace and Hair Treatment. Before I settled down finally to set up my own business, I did a lot of work. Initially I went into Information Technology (IT) and web programming, after that I went for a career on airline, which I did for some years before I resigned. A year later, I started my own business—Ivy and Rose. As the last girl in the house, I was pretty pampered and I got away with a lot of things.

Are you saying that you didn’t have a boyfriend in the university?
Of course I was dating somebody in the university. I guess it got into me after school, but we broke up after school.

How have the values you learnt from your parents impacted on your life?
I learnt how to be independent. My parents taught me not to depend on anyone for anything in life because there is nothing good in life that comes easy, so hard work is inevitable. I have learnt for myself that in life, you cannot trust people. I learnt that while I was climbing the ladder to the top. I trust only myself.

Would you say you are satisfied with your business?
Well, it depends on the way you look at it. For me as a woman, running your own business gives you the flexibility of time. It gives you time for your home and your children, and that is what love is and that is what my husband and I have always been trying to achieve, and to give our kids the best we both can. That was why I decided to have my own business. I don’t have to think of running off to work. My time is mine. I always have time for my daughter and I delegate duties if I have to. I have a schedule. My daughter goes to preschool while I work till two o’clock when I go and pick her up. All my appointments are within that time. I close for the day by two and go home to become a mother and a wife.

How did you meet your husband?
I’m married and I have a two-year-old daughter. My husband is the Managing Director of his own company while I’m the Managing Director of my own company. We are a small family and we met in the course of my job at the airline. We were colleagues and he was in the same airline with me. We’ve been married for six years.

What was the attraction when you met?
When you meet your better half you’ll know. We were friends before we started dating and there was this undeniably strong attraction from the first day until we got married. We were never apart. I will say it was more of a spiritual thing than physical attraction. There was this magnet that kept pulling us together and we just longed to see each other again and again and I think marrying him is the best decision I’ve made in life.

What is the secret of your beauty?
My beauty is a gift from God. I don’t lay emphasis on make-up because for me make-up makes you look very artificial. Natural beauty is the best any day, anytime for a woman.

Will you say you are fulfilled as a woman?
Each day is a challenge but for the basic thing a woman aspires to have, I will say yes. I’m fulfilled. One of my greatest achievement so far is setting up my own business from scratch to where I am now.

Can you describe yourself?
I am a very simple and hardworking lady. I love to face a challenge and that is why I resigned from my job about five years ago to start a business that is new in Nigeria.

What is your favourite TV programme?
I love Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah Winfrey is my role model.

Do you have a memorable moment?
The arrival of my daughter and setting up my business are my memorable moments.

Are you a fashion freak?
I love being fashionable because it is a lifestyle. It says a lot about your personality, beginning from hair to toes.

What is your most cherished gift?
My daughter, Donatella is the most cherished gift God gave to me.

Do you have a favourite musician?
I like Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston. But I enjoy jazz and songs with low tempo because it helps me to relax.

How do you relax?
I normally watch Disney channel with my daughter because I like to spend time with her. I also look forward to seeing Sunday in order to rest.

How does your day begin?
I pray early in the morning. After the day’s work, I reflect on the issues of the day and plan for the next day.

Do you have any regrets so far?
Not at all. I thank God for everything.