She is popular in London. She is the lady behind Carlins Real Hair, one of the biggest Hair brands in London. She has a huge followership on Instagram and has been helping a lot of women grow and maintain their hair. The CEO, Linda Gambo is a Hausa lady who was born in Kaduna, but has grown to become a fashionista. She has been in the hair business since 12 years ago and has become a household name both in London where she resides and Nigeria, her home country. In this Live Chat with City People Online Fashion and Beauty Magazine, she opened up to the Publisher, Seye Kehinde on how women can regain their confidence again. Below are excerpts from the interview.
How has your Hair business been?
We give God all the glory, it has not been so easy out there for any business to thrive but we thank God for his faithfulness.
Was your business affected by the pandemic?
It’s been very challenging because of this pandemic but we give God all the glory that things are beginning to take shape. I almost gave up when the pandemic was really biting hard.
Why? What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was during this COVID-19 pandemic because it was at this period I had my biggest sales. It was my breakthrough period, I had loads of people buying hair, I was really selling hair. I guess it was because they were afraid to go out, we kept having orders and dealing with them was a big deal, it was quite interesting and challenging as well.
There are people who say that hair now sells better than fashion. How do you explain that?
Well, I will agree with them partially and the reason is that your hair stands you out. You can afford to wear a very beautiful and expensive hair and combine it with a cheap cloth and still standout. Because when people see you, the first thing they see is your hair. You can afford to put on anything on your body but whatever you put on your head brings out your beauty the more.
What made you go into the business?
I have a passion for it and I love hair. Because I come from the northern part of Nigeria and our women are not too enlightened about hair but those from other tribes especially the Igbos and Yorubas are so exposed and I have lived in almost every part of the country. My love for hair also made me go into the business. We’ve been in the business since about 12 years now.
Where do you operate from?
I operate from the United Kingdom but I ship to every other country in the world. I get my hair from Brazil, Japan, China, India, America, and now from Vietnam also.
What is your advice for ladies on how to maintain these products?
Well, our hair speaks for us. We make sure we get our hair from the best hands, we make sure that it is well treated and that our customers get value for their money. The treatment they need for our hair is just addition of hair serum to make it look nice and that’s it.
So how do you convince women to buy hair from you since there are many competitors out there?
Sincerely, most of my customers are referrals because of the quality of the hair I sell.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born and where did you grow?
My name is Linda Gambo, I was born and bred in Kaduna, I attended Air force primary school in Benin and my secondary school was in Jos. I also attended Nasarawa Polytechnic before I continued my education in London and it has been my base ever since.
How did you start your hair business?
As I said earlier, I am from the northern part of Nigeria where most of our women cover their hair but for me, my parents are civil people so, my siblings and I were exposed to other culture and fashion has been a part of my family. Everybody in my family likes to look good. One day, my sisters and I alongside a friend, Jennifer were sitting together in a room and I decided that I was going to start selling hair because I bought a hair and I felt that it was too expensive and I said to them that I must look for a supplier and the rest is history today. I source hair a lot from different places.
What should ladies who want to buy good hair look out for?
The first thing a woman should look out for is the quality of the hair. Because there are so many people selling hair, so there’s bound to be a drop in the quality of hair sold by some set. Another thing to look out for is the texture of the hair. A good hair must not be hard or coarse when you touch it.
What are the mistakes hair sellers make in this line of business?
Well, I am not condemning anybody because I am a businesswoman and I want every one of us to win because that is my motto but there are so many people out there who have built their brand but they are not selling quality and people patronize them because of their name and not the quality they sell. This is something I have learnt and corrected in this line of business and I’m enjoying it so well now.
How did you come up with the name Carlins Hair?
Carlin is my name and because we don’t sell fake, I had to put real hair. So that was I came about the name Carlins Real Hair.
Is that an English name?
No, that is my Hausa name Carlin but spelt with C also.
What was the response at the initial stage when you started?
To be fair, it was not a smooth ride, it was pretty slow and then we started little by little until we started growing up gradually and now we’re going higher I won’t lie to you.
What were the initial challenges in the business?
When the hair business started, people didn’t know the real from the fake and it was so expensive. The most common hair then was synthetic hair and people were clamouring for real human hair and advertisement did us a great favour.
Which would you say is the best kind of hair?
As a guru who spent almost all night sourcing for hair, I would say that you can buy all kinds of hair, all that matters is the quality and texture of hair. For instance, the Brazilian hair is good, Peruvian and Cambodian hairs are all good, it all depends on the texture you want. What to look out for is that the hair must not shake, tangle and that it is fluffy.
What’s your message to your readers and clients all over the world?
I love you all, thank you for your loyalty and patronage.
How do you get clients to key into your business?
I have a website, and a strong social media presence such as Instagram and Facebook where we relate with many of our clients. We also do a lot of talking to make our clients give us a trial and we know that once they patronize us, the quality we offer will keep them glued to us. I also do a lot of wholesales in Nigeria.
Before the pandemic, where were you getting your clientele from?
My clientele is all over sir, I also have a product that I discovered about four years ago but it wasn’t doing so well initially. However, it has been selling so well lately.
Is it human hair?
No it is not, it is a treated fibre synthetic hair called calibrate.
What is the latest trend in hair business now?
Women are currently crazy about long hair now, we have to source for about 40-inch long hair now because people want to look different and unique in their long hair. The blonde chord short bulb is also in vogue now. And different hair colour is also trending now. At Carlins Real Hair, we’re so much into colours because we love our women to look really different.
What about Sally braids?
Yes, they love Sally braids and it is also in vogue too. We have then in different colours such as burgundy, brown, blue, black and grey. They come in five colours.
What is the most challenging part of being the CEO of a hair brand?
Sometimes we get bad customers but because of my nature, I try to speak to my customers in a nice manner. You have to know how to deal with the horrible clients too.
What is next for Carlin’s hair?
We are looking at a bigger picture of Carlin’s hair. All our lovers and customers should stay tuned because we have many things in the pipeline for them. We are trying to have a franchise and we are bringing up something great.