By Uche Amunike
Discovering talents is something I have great passion for. That explained my excitement when I heard about a beautiful girl in her twenties who confidently left her posh job at the Ministry of Information and Culture, here in Abuja and chased her dream of being an Entrepreneur.
Her chosen field is the Beauty world and her specialty is Hair and Skin care. This amazing vessel of hope and determination, against all odds has today, become the CEO of her own company. She has played well on the national stage and is presently being sought after by the international stage. She has truly inspired me and I hope she inspires you too. Kindly read the story of Olaedo…the gold fish that has no hiding place. Enjoy…
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is Chidera Ogbu Olaedo. I am the founder and CEO of Olaedo Naturals. It is a skin and hair care line for all skin types and all hair types. In hair care, people tend to think that it is only people with natural hair that can use a specific hair care cream, but It’s not that way. Anybody with any hair type can use it. We started APRIL 2018 and we have been in business for a year and 5 months.
Tell us about your educational background.
I studied English and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) . I still want to further my studies, but for now I want to just put a structure to my business. Even if I go back to school, I want it to be so well structured that it would be running successfully. I also want to be able to have retail stores all over the country. I don’t want it to be restricted to only Abuja or Lagos. I am definitely going to go back to school and then, come back full and be a big business owner.
So when you finished from UNN, did you ever get a job afterwards?
Yes, I did. I worked at the Ministry of Information and Culture here in Abuja. I however left because I didn’t like it there. So, when I left, I started my own business. I’ve always loved the beauty, hair, and skin business. I tried make-up when I was still in the university but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. I preferred skin care. So I just started mixing up things, doing it myself, watching Youtube and doing research.
So did you go to any school for special training to learn how to produce your skin care products or did you discover this terrain all by yourself?
Yeah. I did. I found out these things by myself. I started my natural hair journey four years ago and it was difficult for me to find the right product that worked for my hair. So I was lucky to find some like Shear Moisture, Kantoo and so on. As you know, Shear Moisture is an American Brand, but getting it every time was a bit expensive for me. So I started trying out stuff by myself like watching videos and so on. However, as my hair grew, it started being difficult to manage. So I had to start doing my own stuff. I started doing deep conditioners and started whipping up my own Body Butters myself.
So, when I came to Abuja, I talked to a couple of people and started doing research and they also told me where I could get the best Shear Butters. They told me I could get from here in Abuja, Ghana, Minna and even Osun state. So, I had to check all that out and then I started whipping up butter myself and mixing it them with the right Oils and Essential oils. That was how we started. And for my skin, I used to have Chronic Dermatitis like eczema. I tried a lot of soaps to get rid of it but none of them worked. So, I got this contact from Ghana who introduced me to a particular soap.
Since after then, I was like, ‘ this is really good. This is working for me’. And I started getting it in the raw form and started practising and learning how to mix oils to make them work for every skin type.
Tell us, how did you now find out that it was really working. Did you have clientele already or did u just trust the judgement of people who used the product and got you feedback on them?
No, I started with my friends. Obviously, people start with their friends. I gave some of them for free and they loved it. They were like, ‘this is good. You should really start producing and selling it to other people’. So I agreed and because I did not really like where I was working, I decided I was going to start doing it and in a big way too. So, that was how it started. I started selling to my friends and going for events, talking to people, using social media to market my products. So, that’s how it started.
Let’s talk about sponsorship. How did you handle that?
For now, we haven’t really delved into that. We just do a lot of collaboration with people who do the same thing as I do. There are people called Instagram Influencers. If you use the medium well, you may create a relationship with them and then, talk to them about the stuff you’re doing. You can give them for free and then, they market it for you.
Do you have any regrets about leaving the Ministry of Information and Culture?
No. I do not have any regrets whatsoever. I have always wanted to be a Beauty Entrepreneur. I am always fascinated about how you can start using stuff on your skin or your hair and it just works for you and I want to make my brand affordable for people. We don’t want people to always wait for things that they ordered to get into Nigeria before they can apply something good. We also have plans of having a wider range of hair care products and body products that can be everywhere in Nigeria. Hopefully, one day, the world will know what it is. So, yeah. That’s what it is. We want to make affordable products for everybody. I believe you don’t have to break the bank to look good or do your hair. Yeah! That’s it. It’s also a way of empowering the locals. I mean the local women, because we source the shear butter from them. We go to Minna. So, we empower them by distributing goods to those that want to start their own thing. We sell cheaper to them, then they sell at the normal rate.
Kindly let us know your products and what exactly they do to the hair and the skin.
For now, we have four (4) products on the range. We have two different types of Body Butters. Tea Tree and Lavender. Then we have the Orange and Lemon. They are super moisturizing. When you use them consistently, they soften your skin and make it clearer. People who have bad skin like people who have been bleaching for a while and then damaged their skin should use it because it helps repair their skin. It evens out their skin tone and gets it back to normal. We also have the black soap. It does the same thing and it doesn’t dry out.
You know, some black soaps tend to dry out when the formulation is wrong. But ours is moisture packed. It super moisturizes. We use oils like Sweet Almonds, Vitamin E Oil and Jojoba Oil. These are super moisturizing oils that don’t rip off your natural on your skin. We also have the Sugar Scrub. It’s like an exfoliator. You can use it once in a week to scrub off dead skin cells and the scrub has an immediate effect. Once you use it, you can get the results you want immediately. Then we have Konjac Sponge. It’s a Japanese sponge that can be used on the face. It cleanses the face deep and when you use it with the soap, it does a deeper cleansing than when you use the soap alone on your face. Then, our Body Butters are multi- use Butters. You can use it on your hair to moisturize tour hair after washing and deep conditioning. That’s basically all we have for now. However, before the end of the year, we’re going to produce more products on the line.
I feel truly inspired, Olaedo. So, what message do you have for the young people like you, especially as it concerns discovering who they are?
I always tell my friends and younger ones never to limit themselves to any place. They shouldn’t ever do anything just because everybody is doing it. You just have to be passionate about anything you want to do. You should have a goal and know what you really want to do. You have to be ready to do a lot of researches, especially if you want to do the kind of thing I’m doing because it’s a product people consume. It’s what they have to use on their skin which is why you have to be very careful and research thoroughly. You need to be very passionate about your dreams. The world is moving fast. If you do not have the passion to chase your dreams, you’ll end up remaining in one spot.
Again, you don’t have to wait to have millions before you start doing something with your life. Just start with what you have. I started my business with nothing. I just started it by experimenting and giving my friends to try out. I would wait to get money, then , go and source products and make them. Gradually, it was growing and they were giving the word out that the product was good and that it was produced by their friend. So, just start. Nobody is going to look for you. You have to have a track of what you’ve done and then, someone will be encouraged or motivated to invest in it because they have seen what you have done. So, just start with that little idea you have in your head, whether you think that it is crazy, or that it makes sense. Just start. The most beautiful thing about growth is that when you look back and view the process of your journey, it gives you joy and motivates you to do better.
Who are the people you would like to thank for having come this far?
I would really like to thank my mom. I did a lot of work in her kitchen. She would always come out and say, ‘what is this thing you’re doing? You’re making noise. I want to sleep and the neighbours need to sleep too’. You know, the whipping machine makes noise and I was using her kitchen before I started my NYSC. And then, when I moved to Abuja for my NYSC, I was staying with my uncle and his wife. They were really impressed. I also used his wife’s kitchen. They encouraged me a lot in spite of the inconveniences. So, after a while, I finally got my own place. I really thank my mom, dad, family members especially my sisters whom I stressed endlessly. I would tell my sister in Lagos to help me with my deliveries in Lagos and she happily did, in spite of the stress involved. Same thing goes for my sister in Abuja and my friends. I thank my customers in a special way because they do most of the work for me. I don’t spend when it comes to advertising because they use their products and discuss it on their page by making lots of posts where they tell people about how good my products are.
Has this job ever taken you outside the shores of this country at one point or the other?
It’s going to be taking me to Japan by next Saturday. I saw this opportunity online about African Entrepreneurs. The event is called Tokyo International Conference on African Development, (TICAD). I applied for it and I just did it randomly because, I always apply for a lot of things. I apply for exhibitions too. The last exhibition I attended was UBA Market Place where over ten thousand Nigerians applied and I was among the 120 people selected. So, I always look out for opportunities, grants, etc. so, I was lucky. I got selected for the TICAD Conference. So, I’ll be going to Japan next week.
I wish you good luck in all your endeavours, Olaedo. I also thank you for an amazing time. I hope I’ll have you again the next time I visit Abuja.
Thank you so much. I’ll be looking forward to that. I can’t wait!!!