Jeannette Abayie, a Biological Scientist, is the co-founder and CEO of The Bow Hub, a children’s hair accessory business. She is also a philanthropist and co-founder of Oohs N Coos, a non-profit for women and children, and co-author of a children’s coloring book and bedtime story. The Bow Hub is currently in the process of rebranding to include a skincare line made specifically for Black-skinned babies and children. Jeannette is a graduate of the Center’s Milestone Circles program and an active participant in the Mentor Makers program.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Jeannette Abayie: Entrepreneurship is a process of creating a new enterprise from something you are passionate about to solve a social or economic problem without the fear of failing.
How did your company come to be?
JA: As a mom of four girls, we buy a lot of hair accessories because my girls like to dress up. However, after my husband and I separated, it was starting to get costly, so I decided to learn how to make the hair accessories myself. What started out as a hobby later became a big hit with friends and neighbors asking if they could place orders. After several months of being hesitant, I decided to give it a try and use it as a side hustle to a replace the lost income from the separation. After it gained enough traction, I decided to make it a full-time job because it will enable me to get enough time with my children during the day and work on orders at night. Also, having my sister as a co-founder gave me a helping hand on orders.
How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
JA: We went completely e-commerce in response to the pandemic. Having a brick and mortar was costing us money because most people were shopping online instead of in person, so it made total sense to go fully e-commerce and focus on how to market our products online.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
JA: When Covid hit, my business just tanked – I lost everything I had ever worked for. I was almost at the point of depression and nearly gave up in life. Those dark days are days I pray I never have to live through again, I went from being an independent woman to being on government assistance. I didn’t have money for business supplies and was heavily in debt. I was done and wanted to give up but whenever I saw those little faces (my children) looking up to me, I knew I had to find a way to pick myself up and I did just that. Today I am very happy that I did that because my business is at a stage I never dreamt it will be and its only getting better.
How is your company changing the landscape?
JA: We are building a line that caters to the skin care needs of Black-skinned babies and children who are usually underrepresented.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
JA: I wish I knew it’s okay to ask for help. I wanted to do it all to show how good I am or how resourceful I am. That took a toll on me especially because I have five children who depend on me. It put me on the edge of a mental breakdown. I have learned to ask for help and delegate. My sister does all the technical and marketing stuff to give me some time on my hand for other things. I take little breaks here and there to do some selfcare and recharge because that is equally important.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
JA: I live by the saying that with God nothing is impossible. My personal mission statement is put your mind to it, word hard towards it and let God do the rest. Remember to always have a positive mindset because your thoughts become your reality.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
JA: My children are my inspiration. They have so much faith in me that I don’t ever want to let them down. They are my biggest “why” for everything I do and the thought of letting them down is not even an option. Because of them, I always strive to achieve the highest level of success I possibly can.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
JA: As a mompreneur and single mother of five, success to me is being able to bring harmony to the chaos around me. Building businesses and raising children is no easy feat as I am constantly being pulled in many different directions, but I make an effort to be present not perfect in both roles. If there is progress in both departments, that to me is success.
Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
JA: Since covid my definition of success has mainly been the ability to adapt to change. When I moved my business online because of Covid, my children also started homeschooling for the same reason and I had to quickly adapt to working from home with four homeschooled kids and a toddler. I had to balance between working, helping with homeschooling and taking care of my 3-year-old son. My ability to succeed in pulling this off has been one of my greatest successes yet.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
JA: Building a business by yourself is hard. I started out as a solopreneur but quickly realized two heads are better than one. What a difference it makes to get a co-founder with the same vision and energy to help the business succeed. To my fellow entrepreneurs I will advise you to always find a co-founder or form a team with like-minded people. Teamwork is key in building a successful business because you pull ideas and resources from different sources and Individuals.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? How has it changed in recent months?
JA: I always start my day off with my personal bible devotion and prayers around 5:00 am. Then I check my emails and respond to them before my middle schoolers wake up around 6:30 am to get ready for school. During this time, I prepare breakfast for the morning and make school lunches and snacks. By the time I am done with all these I wake up my elementary children to get ready for school. By 8:30 everybody has left for school and I get ready to work from home. I have a strict schedule I follow between this time till my children get back from school because I need to get as much as possible done before they get home.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
JA: I am motivated by the rebranding that is taking place in my business. We are in the process of launching the first ever baby skin care products for Black-skinned babies and this is very exciting as it may be the first of Its kind on the market.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
JA: I want to build a business that is inclusive and caters for children of all races and economic background while also making a conscious effort to cater to the needs of Black children in areas that require attention.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
JA: I have failed over and over again and that’s why I succeed. Failure is a part of life and a steppingstone to success.
Have you experienced mentorship in your career? Do you feel it was easily available to you?
JA: Yes, I am blessed to be a part of the Mentor Makers group from the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. Through this mentoring group, I have met very knowledgeable mentors who have really helped my company achieve an impressive level of success. The Mentor Makers platform has thousands of mentors readily available to help entrepreneurs in various areas of their businesses they are finding difficulty with.
Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
JA: Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center has helped me tremendously in my entrepreneurial journey. Through this amazing company, I have connected with great entrepreneurs and shared ideas and information on how to build successful businesses. The network of support I have gained Is amazing. I am also privileged to be a Cornerstone Mentor of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Milestone Circles where I will pay it forward by helping the 2022 circles to set their milestones. I am very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to It.
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