Hello friends, I hope you’ve taken heed to the words of wisdom shared by Tola from last month’s interview. If you missed it, you could read it here. The Virtuous Enterprise Series, is based on Provers 31: 16 and aims to encourage you as you meet other Christian women who have conquered great heights in business. This month we have, Ifeyinwa Ojekwe CEO of Ajali homemade cosmetics who tells us how important it is to achieve balance on both the home front and in one’s career. Ifeyinwa won the Genevieve emerging beauty entrepreneur award last year and has conquered new heights ever since. You can visit the Ajali flagship store in Lekki Nigeria and treat your skin to luxurious handmade products while experiencing a moment of tranquillity at the spa. Now as we all know I am not a beauty expert, but I value self-care, and a good spa break, so you must be certain that I am elated to have Ifeyinwa on the blog today. I hope you enjoy her interview. I sure did.
What does the The Proverbs 31 woman represent to you?
The Proverbs 31 is the ultimate GIRL BOSS. She’s about her money, her family and excels at absolutely everything. It’s a great standard to set for any woman to be honest.
Do you think it is possible to have a fulfilling career as well as being an excellent homemaker?
Well I don’t have a family of my own yet so I can’t say I have much experience in being a homemaker but I like to believe that when that time comes I’d be able to balance both roles. I know so many women personally that do an amazing job at this so I don’t see why not.
Tell us about what prompted you to start Ajali?
I had a major health scare in 2012 and after I recovered I promised myself that I would pay more attention into what I put into by body. I started looking into everything – what I was eating, the cosmetics I was using etc. and once I realized just how few all-natural body products there were here in Nigeria, I decided to try making my own.
Did you always have a dream to be an entrepreneur, and if so when did you realise you had that gifting?
Truthfully, I was always fascinated by business but I had no idea that I would ever find myself in this industry. I fell into this by accident. Initially I was making just my shea butter cream and my family and friends started asking me to make it for them. I had the opportunity to showcase my products at my church’s exhibition and the rest is history.
Where there any peculiar ethical challenges you encountered when starting out in business?
No, nothing that I can recall at least.
You won the Genevieve emerging beauty entrepreneur award last year, what difference do you think it makes when women support other women?
The Genevieve Beauty Awards recognized both men and women in the beauty industry, by default as there are more women in this field so I can understand why it would come across as a “women supporting women” situation. Having said all that, there is an obvious gap in gender equality in business, the workplace and life in general, so it’s absolutely imperative that we look out for each other as women.
What do you envision Ajali will become in 10 years?
I see AJALI being equally recognized as a leading African natural cosmetics brand and also for effecting positive change in our country.
As an African woman in the cosmetic industry, what would you say to women who had insecurities about their looks and their bodies?
I think it’s normal to have insecurities I have my own insecurities and things about myself that I’d like to change too. There’s a lot of pressure to look like society’s definition of “perfect”, but what works for me is reminding myself that God created me in His image so I’m already “perfect” in the only way that truly matters. Having said that, if there’s something about your physical appearance that you’d like to change, and you can do that in a healthy way then I think you should go for it! Just remember to love yourself at every stage before, during and after.
Do you believe that being a Christian woman changed your attitude to business? If yes how? If no, why not?
Absolutely! I’ve always been a Christian but as I’ve grown to know God more I’ve realized that the purpose for my AJALI is not just for me to be successful but for AJALI to be successful so that through it the world can see God’s power at work. When you realize that everything you have is a gift from God and you’re merely a custodian of that gift, it gives you a greater sense of purpose and at least for me, made me dream bigger, work harder and do MORE.
Ajali celebrates Nigeria, nature and authenticity, what does it mean to be authentic in today’s cosmopolitan world?
Authenticity to me means just being your true self.
Do you think everyone can be an entrepreneur?
Yes I do! Provided you’re hardworking and passionate about what your business does that I don’t see why not.
What advice would you give young Christian women who were starting out in business?
Just do it! You’re never going to have everything you need, and it’s never going to be the perfect time. When I started AJALI it was overwhelming just how many hats I had to wear. I was the maker of all my products, the marketer, distributor, supply chain manager, graphic designer and even website builder all while maintaining a full-time job! Loking back on it now, it was simply God’s grace that made it all possible and I’m actually happy I wasn’t able to pay anyone to help me in those days because it meant I became an expert at everything concerning my business.
Finally, The tag line at Damiloves is ‘learn to love the life you are living’, what does that statement mean to you?
I love that! “Learn to love the life you are living” to me means living with the spirit of gratitude. In today’s society, especially in the age of social media it is so easy to get caught up with what everyone else has, does and says but like the saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy”. Life is a gift and everyone’s life and journey is completely different. We’re called to live life to the fullest according to God’s perfect plan for us. So for every day you’re alive, make the most of it, focus on yourself and trust in God. Nothing else matters.
There it is, I hope you enjoyed reading Ifeyinwas story as much as I did. Remember to focus on what God is saying to you and not what He is saying to anyone else. He is ever faithful.
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Until I come your way next time, don’t forget to ‘learn to love the life you’re living’
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