“Eleda Eda Li Olorun Ni Da Ni” “The Creator made us with different qualities”. This Yoruba saying rings true for a young enterprising business woman, Joyce Iyawe.
Born in 1968 in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria, Joyce was exposed to business at an early age and by the time she was eleven, knew that she wanted to become a business woman when she grew up. Joyce is the second of four children, her parents Josiah and Alice Nehikhare always emphasized the need for a higher education. Joyce obtained a Masters degree in social work at Fordham University in New York. She never forgot her dream to be a business owner. She lived in the United Kingdom for a short period before deciding to move to the United States in 1990. Life was different in America and Joyce realized that this was where her dreams could finally be realized.
Joyce has always done other businesses outside her regular job, one of them was to braid hair at home, in her studio apartment in New York. Equipped with a large mirror and several plastic garden chairs for customers to sit on, Joyce created her hair braiding shop. What was striking about her decision was not the daunting fact that she would now be entirely responsible for sourcing her finances in a foreign country, but that she had very little knowledge about how to actually braid hair! She remembered what she saw other braiders in Nigeria at her mother’s salon-spa do and after practicing on friends and family in New York she had mustered up enough courage to start on her own, she put up fliers in her apartment complex, informing people of her skills and waited to see what would happen. The response was great and she developed a regular clientele.
She was also involved in business with her mom Alice and exported hair and beauty supplies as well as exercise equipment, to Nigeria. Her mom ran a spa-salon called ‘Alique’ which offered head to toe treatment.
Joyce, who had married and became Mrs. Iyawe, gave birth to a miracle baby boy who was four months premature. The challenges faced with raising a delicate soul like his were enough to make any mom give up on her initial dreams and concentrate on the care and keeping of her child. Undaunted by her epic responsibility, Joyce carried her business dream in her heart and not only did she give birth to another baby boy, three years later but her determination to survive by generating her own income led her to launch her new business, Pampered Hair Haven, the first and only one of its kind to be run in Minnesota. Pampered Hair Haven, is a human hair extension business that manufactures and supplies all-natural, 100% human hair and caters to women of all races.
A typical day for Joyce starts at 05:30 am. “The first thing I do every morning is focus. I get my self into a relaxed frame of mind and plan the day ahead. Once I have a clear vision in my head, I head down for my first cup of coffee.”
The boys leave for school at 07:30am and 09:00am, after a home cooked breakfast. She then drives to her shop, about fifteen minutes away from her home in Plymouth and opens for business at 10:00am.
“I love to go to work everyday because it is truly exciting for me to meet or talk over the phone to my customers.” Joyce truly believes that you should have a passion for whatever you do in life and spreads the belief that every woman deserves to be pampered. She calls it her mission in life. Her passion for the well being of women is apparent to those she meets, as she encourages them to set aside time for self rejuvenation wherever possible. She also believes strongly in net working and loves it when she helps women to connect and grow close through her.
Her shop provides a relaxing atmosphere for women to sit and relax while they wait for their orders. It has also been used as a convenient meeting place for women on the go, to catch up on life and discuss business, kids and social plans face to face. Her shop closes officially at 6:00pm but Joyce has stayed late on many an occasion filling out last minute orders to ensure prompt customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, she goes home to her children to hear how their day went and attend to their needs.
“I juggle a lot of things in my life but I make sure that at the end of the day, I make time for some peace and quiet on my own to relax and regroup.
Her website, pamperedhairhaven.com, highlights the excellent quality of hair offered. Women who are familiar with the hair are eager, repeat customers and are excited that this industry, previously found in larger metropolitan cities, is now available in Minnesota.
“I love the fact that my company provides a service that contributes to building self esteem in women because there is nothing like a bad hair day to ruin a whole day!”
Joyce’s role model is her mom Alice who has always believed in her. When asked what she would do differently were she given a chance to do things over, she said she would educate herself more on the financial aspects of running a business in America.
She advises women who are seeking to become business owners, to get information from organizations such as Women Venture. Joyce also net works through organizations like African Women Connect, Channel Afrique, Sister Spokesman, Upswing and the Living Word Business networking group.
Joyce also had these gold nuggets to give to her aspiring African sisters.
“Sharing information is very important because it brings blessings to both parties. It is good to be your sister’s keeper.”
Joyce, a dedicated mother would like those she meets to remember her as a woman with a passion for the pursuit of happiness.”
About Muzamba Sibajene
Muzamba Sibajene is a general assignment reporter at Mshale. She previously worked with dailies in her native Zambia.
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