Looking Forward: Afrocks' Hervé Despois
Hervé DESPOIS is the Founder & CEO of Afrocks, which is fast-transforming the hair care landscape.
We couldn't wait to dive into how this company came to be...and he was kind enough to talk it out with us!
What initially led you to launch Afrocks?
I am from a marketing background and have had most of my working years in agencies dedicated to meet, anticipate and satisfy our clients' needs and desires. I came to the realisation that when it came to black women’s needs, the same dedication of service were almost nonexistent.
With Afrocks, I wanted to provide a flexible and reliable service, where women would feel valued as customers, where styling natural hair was a serious and professional business and not an amateur or underground “thing”.
I wanted Afrocks to be:
- Mobile: As we all have busy lives and that it is extremely convenient to have at home services.
- Hassle-Free: There is no hidden or additional costs as all financial transactions are online. Your card is pre-charged and debited after completion of the service . It is great for those who never have cash on them or those who do not like to “talk money”.
- Reliable: We make a point on providing great customer service. Our stylists are on time and should there be any setbacks, the costumer and the stylists are immediately informed.
You have previously detailed how you've witnessed your wife spend entire weekends "detangling, washing and plaiting her hair on her own because there were no hairdressers around that she could trust". Was this a real eye-opener for you?
As you have pointed out, I have indeed watched my wife washing, de-tangling and twisting her thick hair for hours. When I told her to go to the hairdresser so we could spend more time together during the weekend, she pointed out to me that it was not as easy as I thought.
I was under the impression that she had a wide choice of salon with no problem of availability. At that time (early 2000; things have changed!), she used to go to a place where most of the stylists made her feel uncomfortable because they did not want to have to “deal” with her thick and kinky hair. I was truly astonished as I realised that this was denying her the customer experience that I was providing everyday to my own clients.
I therefore came to the realisations that we, as black business owners, need to take ourselves seriously. Simone, our Afro hair consultant, always says that being an afro hair stylist is not considered by most to be a "real" occupation, whilst it is definitely a time-consuming and tiring job! By taking the stylists seriously and listening to their needs, we can then show the same respect and love to our clients' hair. It is all about valuing ourselves all across the board.
Tell us about your biggest business success so far! And how did you celebrate it?
Our booking rate per week has doubled in one year! We are very proud, as the brand is getting out there, people are talking about us and most of the feedback is positive. We have been blessed with a great team of reliable and professional stylists who are dedicated to what they do. I celebrated by taking an afternoon off!
Have any words of wisdom that you know to be true?
“Se grenn diri ka plen sak”! This is a powerful Creole saying, which basically mean that one must value the “small” things, the “little” achievements as they are the ones paving the path of success. This is especially true when, like us, you don’t have access to investment or funding. It’s all about doing it one step at the time.
Anything else you'd like to add?
If you have a business idea, go for it! It will be hard, challenging and stressful but at least you will do something you'll love!
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