Can I meet you?
My name is Remilekun Chinenye lawal, I was born on November 11, 1989. I am a Graduate of Public Relations and advertising from Lagos state university, Year 2011. I served in Ibadan.
I noticed you have an Igbo name apart from 3 other Yoruba names, Can you explain that?
My mum is an Igbo woman and my dad is from Edo state with a root in Yoruba. That’s why I have an Igbo name.
How did you come about this business?
Right from school, 200 level precisely I had started sowing as a partime means of income, more like a fashion line and it took me through school. But Sometime in 400 level, I started doing my own skincare products, I do a lot of research most times am reading about health issues and how they came about. Then I realized that what goes into your skin plays a major role on your health so I started making my own products though it wasn’t commercial then. My family and friends take from what I do but I didn’t go fully into that because I was still sowing and I was working in a project management and advertising firm so there was no time. In 2016, I resigned formally, launched into skin care fully, got registered and became an LLC in 2017 with other trademark products under the umbrella of isle of Brique So is a brand trademark of isle of Brique . The organic blend started in September 2018, we basically just started making drinks though there’s a long story behind it.
Did you go to a professional school for all these products?
For the skincare products I did, I did an online training for it. I am a researcher, most times I carry out research online on skin care and mixtures. Then I registered with cramble Berry online, then I got to know about recipes and how to mix mine. So I could say self taught, am still improving daily on skin care and food products but basically I learn online.
are you driven by passion, because normally an average Nigerian after school seek for white collar jobs but I noticed you didn’t work for long in the Advertising Agency?
I really do love the advertising agency and I enjoyed every bit of it but when I was working there I knew that this was not what I will be doing for the rest of my life, so when it was time to stop I had to though I didn’t have everything figured out but I knew what I wanted.
Does the advertising Agency have any positive impact on your business now?
Definitely. From studying advertising in the university to actually working in an agency, we had courses related to branding and real time advertising projects so I would say both my school and the agency has a lot of positive impacts in my life and for my brand. Most of my business ideas stemmed from working in the agency. So yes, it does have a huge impact on my business.
A lot of Nigerians shy away from business due to lack of capital, so how were you able to cope as a starter?
After I resigned to go into skin care formally, I was at that phase and I knew that going into organic requires money because we ship most of these ingredients from abroad and this requires as lot of money. When I started, it was hard to get a supplier of raw materials so one day I went into ojota market after searching online where I could get what I wanted. In the market, I saw a signpost that listed everything I wanted so I went there, it was almost empty because then the trend of organic skincare products was not much but anything she doesn’t have that I want, she writes them down and promised to buy them when next she goes to the market. In terms of capital, it wasn’t so easy at all. I started with 10,000, I was able to make 6 body butters with no customers in mind. I stumbled on BBM channel then and I posted them there and Sold out, people started asking questions and making orders. That was how I started, very small and it grew big.
What is the impact of social media on your business?
Social media has huge impact on my business, getting physical shop here in lagos can be so expensive and most starters can’t afford it. Social media has breached the gap between having a physical shop and making sales because you really don’t need to spend too much to start a business. You can build your market online, get customers online and build integrity online. Social media helps in sales, marketing by building a community of people, enables communications and interactions between the buyer and the seller, customers ask questions about the products and even do consultations online. In physical stores, they might probably meet a sales rep. who have little or no idea about the products. I would say that Social media is the best thing that has happened to businesses in this generation.
So what are your business core values?
My core values are quality and standards, we deliver more than we have promised to customers . That’s what I live by, For instance If I tell you that there’s lavender oil or this or that in a product, be rest assured that those things are sourced from best suppliers and have been verified. We try as much as possible to deliver more than we have promised our customers, we try deliver quality using standard packaging for the products and we also try to make sure that the after sales service is made available for our customers.
You know what we call OPM (Original Products manufacturer)? Can you tell us about yours?
Our OPM is in Asia, that’s where we get most of our raw materials. Here in Nigeria, we work directly with look out manufacturers but most of the exotic oils are not extracted here in Nigeria but we work with them and ship from Asia or any other country depends on the raw material needed at the moment.
These products, Do you carry out any laboratory tests on them?
Most of the ingredients come already tested , it comes with a document of verification straight from the manufacturers so we see all the information on the document such as the concentration, the ph values and all that. But when they get here, we have few time health equipment like ph testers we use to test before and after productions.
What’s the business environment generally in Nigeria?
Basically the business environment is not encouraging, you might do all of your work as an entrepreneur but external factors will mess things up for you. For instance power, we need power to operate. Storage here requires a particular temperature all the time but there’s no power to achieve this so we use generators most times and generators sometimes have limitations with the number of gadgets it can carry. We also spend a lot of money on petrol which ordinarily would have been channeled into building and expanding the business. Another factor is Transportation, traffic in Lagos is terrible and we all know that. The delivery guy picks up and the next thing is delivery, sometimes they are held on traffic for hours and this can disrupt your reputation to customers because you might have told your customer that the product will be delivered at a certain time. We also pay heavy taxes even as a small scale business and this can really be frustrating. All these and more make the business environment highly uncomfortable for entrepreneurs.
Do you have a business mentor?
I don’t have a particular business mentor but I have people who have always looked up to maybe because of a particular business value or what they do that I really like. I have always like coco channel because I like her story, how she came up. I like FENTY That’s Rihanna, the fact that she’s doing a lot and her business sense. Basically, those two people have affected how I try to build myself.
Those are international, Are there not women in business in Nigeria that in spire you?
Well, I like Chioma Kuke (the goodhair place) how she does her things and many others.
Have you faced any challenges with any regulatory body?
Challenges? No. Being my kind of person, I like to cover all grounds. Before Nafdac comes, I have done what am supposed to do and before Tax office comes I have cleared my books. So I haven’t had any personal challenges with anyone.
What are the challenges you have faced in this business so far?
The unavailability of most raw materials here and standard packaging materials have been a major challenge. After importation, you have to pay largely to either EMS or DHL to ship them down here and all these cumulate into making the products very expensive.
So who are your target market?
My target market are basically everybody men, women and children. As long as you are deliberate about your skin, you don’t need harsh chemicals in your skin care product then you are our target.
You have Brown skin girl, MANE BSG and REMI SAUVAGE and each of these products represent a brand. Can you throw more light on this?
Brown skin girl is a skin care product and skin care for women, hair care, skin care, anti- ageing for men and women and for the beards too. The other products are spa products oils, candles, bath salts and bath oils. So we just had to differentiate it.
What are your expansion plans?
My expansion plan is one where customers can come in direct consultations with owners of the brand itself but aside that we want to have sales outlets where you can walk in and get any our products from anywhere you are, you don’t necessarily have to deal with delivery services both for brown skin girl and organic blends. For organic blends, expansion plan is to have food outlets where you can come in and have organic food and drinks that are basically wholesome and nutritional. What we do is basically sugar free, organic and natural for people who are looking out for a fitness plan, those trying to cut down on weight, to be fit and eat healthy.
Do you have any plan for people who would love to go into this business but don’t know how to?
In long term, Yes it is something I plan to do but right now am still growing and there’s a lot for me to learn. I don’t think I have so much to teach anybody right now but in the long run, yes. Even if its not something I plan myself but I can be involved in programs that do such.
Where do you see your brand in the next 5years?
In the next 5years, I would want Brown skin girl to be in the international market, we should be able to compete favorably with other brands in the same line. I would also want to have a community of loyal customers both for Brown skin girl and organic blends in such a way that people can walk into our outlets here in Lagos and get what they want.
Do you have a social media handle where people can reach you?
We have a website for brown skin girl www.brownskinng.com and on instagram its brownskingirl-ng, on twitter its brownskingirlng and organicblendng on all platforms for organic blends
Any advice for young entrepreneurs out there?
Start where you are, how you are, do as much research as you can do, learn as much as you can and don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.
How do you relax?
I eat, I work out and I watch movies.