Profile: (A brief description of yourself):
I’m a woman in her 40s embarking on a new adventure. I’ve always loved makeup and this seemed like the right transition to make after I quit paid employment in 2015.
What problem does your company solve?
We aim to provide our customers with makeup using mainly natural ingredients. The idea is to provide healthier alternatives and to educate our customers on how important it is to know what their makeup contains. We do not aim to knock chemicals (we do see a lot of brands touting chemical-free), as there are good synthetics and bad ones. Technically air and water are chemicals, hence it is important to be educated enough to discern between what is good and bad.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture/ How did the idea for your business come about?
After spending 16 years in paid employment, it was time to make the shift. A discussion with my sister (who is a chemist and my partner in this business) gave birth to this idea. Reaching my 40s also came with some interesting physical changes, so I started paying closer attention to what I use and apply on my skin.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Patience, commitment and the willingness to learn are really important.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Can I really list them? Making the products is like baking. A slight mistake in the formula and your entire product is ruined! The truth is I’m still making mistakes (and “failing” in some aspects), but they then provide a basis for learning.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I haven’t given up on any ideas I’ve had so far. The fact is that if I experiment and it fails, I try to figure out what went wrong and try again. I’ll keep trying till I get it right. Patience is vital.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Six to nine hours.
Describe/outline your typical day?
I aim to get to my production space between 9-9.30 am. As cleanliness is really key, the work area must be cleaned up thoroughly. On days I need to experiment on a new idea, I could take about 30-60 minutes coming up with different formulae. This time also includes reading and researching the various ingredients I’d like to use. Beakers to be used are washed and sprayed with alcohol. Protective gear (gloves, face masks and head covering) are worn. Ingredients are weighed out, heated (if necessary) and tested. Sometimes the end result isn’t suitable and I have to start the process again. On such days (which were an average of 3 days a week), I could spend at least 8-9 hours experimenting. I’m however, doing a lot more research/reading these days; I’m aiming to improve the items we already sell and to expand our product lines.
What motivates you?
I love what I do. Not only am I learning something so new, I’m actually doing it.
How do you generate new ideas?
A lot of research.
How far are you willing to go to succeed?
As long as what I do is based on the principles I hold dear, I will be fine.
What is your greatest challenge, and how do you manage it?
Access to the ingredients I need. I’m heavily dependent on imports. I have no option but to bring them in for now.
What are your ideals?
Fairness and Transparency.
How do you define success?
Limiting my answer to the present, repeat customers would be good way to start.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A combination of stubbornness, determination and patience.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
So far, my partner and I have funded this business ourselves. My contribution came from what I had stockpiled during paid employment.
How do you build a successful customer base?
I’m open to ideas. Still wondering how to achieve this.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
No, I don’t. While I do not discount the experiences of other entrepreneurs (especially the successful ones) and I’m willing to learn from them, I do not believe that there is “one-size-fits-all” approach.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
This business is mine. Anything less than 150% means failure and that isn’t an idea I’m entertaining.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
I’m not certain that one can totally prevent mistakes. I’m more focused on mitigating them, so that the fallout is managed.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I read (a lot)! I watch TV (a lot)!
What makes you happy?
Am I in a state of constant euphoria? No. I’m in a state of constant gratitude? Yes. And that makes me happy, no matter what the situation may be.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Speaking for myself, it’s been mainly financial. It’s been an adjustment not earning a monthly salary, as I try to focus on growing the business. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most? They are all foreign brands doing what I hope to achieve as well. Let me mention one: 100percentpure. I love its brand philosophy and Kilienma aspires to be that Nigerian brand that can provide African women with similar options.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10-20 years?
My hope is for a business that will not lost sight of its brand philosophy. I’d like to be a huge employer of labour and provide training, thereby equipping others who may wish to start their own business.