The #HustleTales of Charlyn Kentaro, founder of The Good Hair Collective

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Brief Bio:

I’m Charlyn Kentaro. I always get stumped when asked to talk about myself, so I’ll let my answers paint a picture for you.

Current Location:

Kampala, Uganda.

Current gig(s):logo_comp

Founder and Director of The Good Hair Collective, where we produce organic handmade hair & skin care products.

Current computer(s):

Lenovo Yoga 2

Current mobile device(s):

An old, faithful HTC Desire

One word that best describes how you work:

Passionately. I truly enjoy the process of making these products, putting them out there, and teaching women about organic healthy alternatives for beauty.

How did you end up at your current gig?

Ha! Where to begin? I started out as a lawyer, did my Master of Laws, lectured for a bit, then I got bit by the entrepreneurial bug. I was working/studying in Cape Town when I decided to “go natural”, as in cut my relaxed hair off and embrace the God-given curls. When I started to look for products to help manage my hair, I came up short. Everything was packed full of harmful chemicals (liquid paraffin, strong sulphates and the like) and/or imported and really pricey. I mixed my own shea butter with other natural oils on one of my holidays and fell in love! My family and friends liked what I was making, so I did a lot of research, trained on it, formed a company and the rest is history!

… Are there any career decisions/life choices/failures’ that were fundamental in making you the person you are now, doing what you are doing now?

 

Yeah, absolutely. I struggled with my undergraduate a bit. Even though, by God’s grace, I came out of it alive and went on to do a Master of Laws, it really taught me how important it is to find something you’re passionate about. Because you know, life comes around once and all that. When you like what you’re doing, it doesn’t even feel like work.

Obviously, the decision to wear my hair naturally also really opened my eyes to the lack of good (safe and affordable) cosmetic options for women in Africa; as well as the unfortunate perceptions about natural hair in many people’s minds.

kentaro range

Is your startup able to fully support you or do you have side gigs to sustain you as it grows? Any stories of some of the struggles/sacrifices you’ve had to make to see this dream come to life?

For a couple of years, I took on legal research consultancies and invested my pay in the company. But it has begun to take off, thankfully. My biggest struggle was mostly warding off the Negative Nancies who doubted that this “natural hair stuff” was worth pursuing. I’ve also had to be much more financially disciplined than ever before!

Do you see yourself ever going back to practising law? And, apart from providing startup capital, is your law education helping you in any way via TGHC?

Well, they say never say never. I enjoyed my time teaching law, particularly, and I have always loved research in general, so who knows? My law education taught me to read thoroughly and think critically. These are two skills I have found invaluable in my business. I was also able to set up the company and easily understand how it should work thanks to a legal background.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

She Reads Truth, a great Bible study app. I also feel like Pinterest doesn’t get enough love – making a mood board always gets my creative juices flowing!

What’s your workspace like?

It’s a carefully curated chaos.

How big is the team of people you work with and what’s your formula for managing them?

I have an amazing team of 6 – most of whom are family. Everyone brings considerable skill or experience to the table, and we work well together. We don’t have a formula as such, besides mutual respect and God’s grace.

Delegating is something that doesn’t seem to come easy to most entrepreneurs. How have you managed to let go?

I didn’t want to let go! But then, I realised that spreading oneself too thin actually lowers the quality of one’s work. Better to get one thing done excellently than 10 sub-standard achievements, right? So I’m challenging myself to be a better teacher and employer.

What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?

Lists! I’m such a lister. I’m also slowly learning to delegate and ask for help when I need it. It doesn’t take anything away from your ‘greatness’ and it might save you some time and money.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Good old pen and paper. I will have about 3 notebooks at any given point in my life. Write it down, get it done and bask in the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

I could happily live without my phone and computer if they weren’t essential to my business!

What everyday thing are you better at than most?

Hmm, making a good strong cup of tea. Does that count? I’m addicted to tea!

What would you say draws you to tea so much?

Tea is incredibly soothing. The quiet hum of it boiling away, the calming heat it brings to your palms. If it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for me. Hehe

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How do you recharge?

Sit by myself, read the Bible, do a thought-dump (this is where I write down all the things I’m grateful for, and then all the things or people I’m concerned about) and pray about it all. Sometimes, I’ll also feel recharged after a good long lunch with an intuitive friend who shares my passions.

What do you listen to while you work?

Old Adele, before she was famous, hehe. Or some 80s pop. Or folk. Or Ruyonga.

What are you currently reading? What usually leads you to buy a book? Books you’ve read recently that have impacted on you deeply? What kind of impact did they have?

I just got into A Good African Story by Andrew Rugasira. I’ll buy a book if the author has written something I enjoyed once, or on recommendation, or even just a quirky title. I read it a couple of years ago, but Adichie’s Americanah really put a hilarious, well-written voice to my experiences as a natural-haired professional and the opinions I’ve received from many people (often unasked-for) on what I ought to do with my hair.

blankets n wine 2014Any mentors/role models that you are working with/have inspired you and what lessons have you managed to learn from them?

Given my legal background, I am still quite a newbie to the entrepreneurial world, so I’m always taking lessons from any experience or meeting. I worked with Mrs Margaret Sekaggya briefly and she taught me to nurture people. Don’t leave them the way they were before they started working for you.

My brother-in-law James always has good business and marketing advice at hand. I should just start following him around with a recorder!

I’ve also had epiphanical (that’s a word) conversations with Bella of Enviri za Nacho. She’s a great spirit, and she’s taught me to never under-value my knowledge.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Normal, I suppose. Midnight til 7. I am not a morning person at all, so if I have a deadline to meet, I’d rather be a night owl.

How do you strike a balance between work, family, friends and other social obligations?

I don’t often feel that they are out of balance. Maybe because I work closely with some family. I could do a much better job of keeping in constant touch with my friends, though. On that note, maybe I can’t be the one to dispense advice on striking a balance.

Who would you love to see answer these same questions?

Francis Otim, CEO of Smart Business Intelligence

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Stop and pray. Also, sell an experience, not a product.

God, prayer and the Bible seem to play a big role in your life. Has it always been like this or was there a turning point you’d like to share?

There was no one particular turning point. I used to think I didn’t need God – that I could be better, smarter, more accomplished if I just worked harder, thought positive thoughts and was nice to most people. But that’s like seeing and living your life through a pinhole camera. God has always had so much bigger things in store for us than just living a good life. Believing in Jesus changes everything. It colours the way you work, think and treat people. It changes what happens on earth and after. When you meet Christ through the Bible, it’s impossible to go back, really. end of sermon lol

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

As a Ugandan hustler, making home-grown products, I have observed how quickly we will pay top dollar for imported products (especially cosmetics) while we are so quick to question or dismiss our own. Of course, we should always question quality; no matter where the product comes from. But there’s a lot of Ugandans getting up to interesting stuff, and we should give them a chance. Buy quality local!

Contacts:

The Good Hair Collective Ltd
B21 Crane Plaza, Kisementi, Kololo
0783374921
www.thegoodhaircollective.com

Facebook: The Good Hair Collective
Twitter: @goodhairug
Instagram
 thegoodhaircollective


The Good Hair Collective as featured on CNN.

If you have any additional questions for Charlyn, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. She will try and answer those she can. Click here to read other Hustle Tales

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The Hustle Tales (adapted from LifeHackers, How I Work series) asks people that are doing epic things how they go through their daily routines to make sure whatever is needed to get the job accomplished is done. If you are interested in doing one these interviews or know someone you think should do one, inbox us with the details and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

Written by Hustle Tales

The Hustle Tales (adapted from LifeHackers, How I Work series) asks people that are doing epic things how they go through their daily routines to make sure whatever is needed to get the job accomplished is done.

If you are interested in doing one these interviews or know someone you think should do one, inbox us with their details and we'll see if we can make it happen.

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3 Comments

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  1. Charlyn do you own a saloon in Kampala? I’m transiting from chemical treated hair to my natural locks but not finding the right saloon / chemicals is making it quite a hard experience! Thanks

  2. Charlyn, I’m curious, have you ever been there and then for whatever reason you think to yourself, I need to change from this natural hair and do some processed thing thing with my hair…and then the reality that your business revolves natural hair and this might conflict with your business ethos hits you, so you just stay with natural hair?

    • LOL! No. I genuinely enjoy my natural hair. If I’m ever tempted to do some processed thing thing, it will more likely be the fear of a cancer risk that will send me running than anything else 🙂

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