She runs her soft, delicate hands through the back of the body lying on a raised ceramic platform in the beauty parlour. The body heaves as the fingers press down the nape and shoulders symmetrically. The figure on the ceramic raised area heaves in soothing relief as tension eases off. She guides the body as it turns face-ward. She places her two hands on its cheeks – a little massage here and there. Raised the chin up and observes the face momentarily. For her, spar business knows no age or sex. To the Chief Executive Officer of Glamour Lounge Salon and Spa, OJ Awal Ibraheem, her business is sex-blind. A beauty herself, shrewd and elegant, OJ Awal understands her industry and gives a personalised service to every client. The Glamour Lounge boss knows how to deliver quality service in a competitive business. She speaks with Raheem Akingbolu about her passion for the beauty industry and the unique selling point of her brand
What informed your decision to open a Spa?
I opened what is today known as Glamour Lounge Salon and Spa in January this year, but before then I have always been in this line of business. I have successfully played in the beauty industry for many years, dealing in cosmetics. We entered the market with Nouba range of cosmetics and it was a success story all through. The idea behind the Glamour Lounge Salon and Spa is just a natural brand extension by an entrepreneur who sees the need to explore other markets.
Considering the current global economic challenge, which has negatively affected the disposable income; don’t you think the timing is wrong?
Let us be realistic, the best time to visit a spa is now because everybody needs a place to relieve stress. Spa is a lifestyle and so anybody that cares about his or her look and body will not hesitate to visit one. Again, Nigerians are now more informed about the health benefit of visiting a spa. Therefore, financial recession or not, our patrons out there will always come around because of the value we are capable of adding to their lives. So, economic challenges notwithstanding, Nigerians like to look good
What are you doing to survive competitions?
Beyond what we offer, one of our value added proposition is to provide exceptional customer service and we intend to leverage on that. Also, we are committed to using only the best products that will give our clients value for their money. We will be focus on this and we will not be distracted. Of course, we like competition because it will help us to remain focused and to continually reinvent.
Six months after, what has been the feedback?
My thought on what I have just stated was shaped by the feedback I have gotten in the last few months of our operation. There are some of our clients that sought our service through word of mouth referrals. Those who experienced our offering went out to tell the story of our excellent service offering.
What are you doing different?
We are trying to be innovative in our approach and what we are doing. We don’t want to be bench marked with conservative players but those who are technological driven with good customer service. Our Unique Selling Point lies in the fact that we personalised massaging. We offer tailor-made services that give our clients special treatment and attend to the need of individuals. We take our time to study and consult to know what is necessary to do for a particular client.
Who and who are you targeting in the market?
The spar business now has no specific age group. It’s not age specific and is sex blind. What I’m trying to emphasise is that there is something there for everybody, depending on what one is out to achieve. Therefore, the target market is wide and we try as much as we can to give clients value for their money.
Can you please define your style?
I like it when it is simple and look good on me.
In five years time, where do you think the company can be?
In five years, I want a situation whereby anywhere spa is mentioned in Nigeria, Glamour Lounge Salon and Spa will come to mind. We want to be synonymous with saloon and spa business. Today, when seasoning is mentioned people think of Maggi and when noodles are mentioned, the first thing our kids think of is Indomie. I want that for my brand in the next five years.