Young Enterpreneur Rosemary Awoh says her passion for entrepreneurship dates back to primary school
Rosemary Awoh is a young lady who knew her onions from an early age. Petite and beautiful, she is an entrepreneur of high repute whose brand of cosmetics, Sweet Indulgence, is exported outside the country to meet the needs of today’s women for beautiful body.
She spoke with Sunday Sun about her inspiration, brand, challenges and many more. Enjoy!
A lot of young people are involved in ‘runs’ and pursuing ‘aristos’ in addition to doing all kinds of things instead of working hard. What motivated you to become what you are today?
My dad passed on when I was six but it didn’t affect me. It didn’t make me feel bad, maybe because I was very young, I didn’t really know much about life then. However, it would have been nice if he were around to see what I am actually doing. Unfortunately, he is not, but I think he would be somewhere smiling.
I feel that everyone is gifted with something; you just have to discover yourself. You have to work hard and aspire to be better than the people that you admire. You start small and grow big. My mum influenced me greatly, there was a time I was growing up and everywhere was filled with cakes, hampers, she was always busy, there was no business that she did not try her hands on. She is a lecturer, she bakes, and she is a fashion designer, events manager and so many things. So, I wanted to be a businesswoman by all means.
What inspired you to go into this?
I am a very creative person and it all started while I was growing up. Then, I would call myself an artist because I used to draw, and paint a lot. But then, I realized that art was not for me. I then got attached to natural products especially how to make skincare products. I always wanted to spend money on it for no reason because I knew it was something that I wanted to go into. Then gradually, I took it upon myself to check out a number of recipes online and I started working on them. The first time I did this, it was really bad. The bar soap I made was something else. It didn’t even look like a bar soap but with time it got better.
I even used my friends as experiments but they didn’t know. I asked to buy and they made a few complaints that I improved on. In less than four months it became better. My mum bakes and she gave me the inspiration for the design. Every normal bar soap just looks simple and clean, there is usually no attraction to it. So, I took it upon myself to change the look. I got some cake moulds and I would pour the liquids into moulds, with flower designs like you have with cupcakes. Something very attractive that they would want to indulge in and that was why I called the brand Sweet Indulgence.
What were you doing before this?
When I stopped doing arts, I started a hair business and I was selling weave-on. I loved getting involved in business since I was young. The hair business was profitable but the challenge I had was that I wasn’t buying direct from source. Sometimes, they would mix it up with something fake and I just had to stop. So, I came back to the beauty range and it has been a wonderful experience.
Which was the first product that you worked on?
My very first experiment was the liquid black bottle soap. I didn’t have problems with this at all. Then I moved on to making the bar soap, the soap with the flower shape. The first time that I tried it, the experience was really bad, it didn’t foam. The next time I tried it, it was better and I got used to the process because you had to measure the temperature and all that. It is not like painting that is so easy. You have to make sure that the materials are right and that you have the right measurement. That was the mistake I made the first time and it got better.
What are the other things that you produce?
I make soaps, body lotions, body scrubs, lip balms and facial oils. Interestingly, I learnt the skills online via YouTube. I actually tried to get someone to teach me but they weren’t interested in doing this. So, I just went online and taught myself.
What got you particularly interested in this?
I got inspired because I was getting too many compliments then about my skin. Then, I was using a product that basically uses natural products. At some point, it was getting too expensive and I just had to stop. Then it occurred to me that I could make mine and get compliments for this. So, I started and the feedback that I was getting was good. Now, I deliver my products within Lagos, other parts of the country and even abroad.
What are the other things that occupy your time?
I have a TV show which is a do-it-yourself (DIY) show on how to make skincare products. On the show we discuss how to make facial products without spending too much. People who watched the show liked what I was doing and some of them encouraged me to start my own product. That was the attraction for me at the beginning and the soap is all for the skin. I use all organic ingredients, there is no chemical added to it and they come in a variety of colours. I can’t remember when last I went to the cinema or socials. I am always thinking of new ideas and innovation. There is no time to have fun.
There are so many black soaps around, what is special about yours?
It is rich in content. I started with the Ghana black soap and some people were reacting to it. Then I added some items with moisturizing content and it became friendlier. It’s for all skin types, everything is natural. That is why it is organic. Sometimes, I get calls for whitening soaps but I tell them that I don’t make bleaching products. I hope to supply to different countries and I got one this year to supply in Denmark. I think it is the creativity that has attracted people to my brand, it is just different.
Is it very smooth doing this or are there challenges?
There are no challenges because I enjoy what I am doing. Although at some point, getting materials was really hard because of the recession. It was tough getting all my packages in Nigeria and we had to import them. Sadly, by the time you calculate the cost it was just too much and that gave me concern initially. Gradually, I thought of a way out and we had to improvise.
In addition, I try as much as possible to sell at affordable prices. They are all natural products, so there is no need to make them too expensive. I have people who help me with the marketing especially at the TV station where I work. I also have people who run my online campaigns for me on social media. That is how my customer base has actually increased.
How does the school react to your entrepreneurship drive and how do you cope with academic work on campus?
Interestingly, the school is aware of what I am doing and they have been very supportive. I actually won the Entrepreneur of The Year Award on campus and ever since, everyone has been following me on the progress made so far. On campus, we have a radio station and I have been interviewed three times on what I am doing. In addition, when you get to the Vice Chancellor’s office, you find my photograph displayed conspicuously. The department also did a biography about my business skills.
They just couldn’t believe that someone in school has the time to do all the things that I am doing. The documentary started from Yaba Tech primary school where I was motivated by my teacher (Mrs Raji) who saw me selling things and asked others to patronize me instead of beating me. In high school, I would make beads, bake and my friends would always patronize me. All this was captured in the documentary and it included how I moved into doing this skincare range that is different from the regular products.
How do you cope with demands?
I have people who work with me and we can match any demand for our products. Like today, I have lots of orders and they take care of this for me. My targets include the young (12-18 years) and the aging (18 and above). I am also coming out with a beard kit for the guys because it’s trendy these days. I get calls and we are working on something for them, it would soften and make it grow. I used to give it to someone randomly in the office and it was working well for him. That gave me the encouragement to make a beard kit.
Let’s talk about the people that inspired you?
There is this particular lady, Toyin Lawani. Every time I look at her Instagram page or watch her on television, I wonder, how this lady does the things that she does. She has over 20 businesses in one building. She is so driven, you can tell that she won’t have time to sit and be gossiping with friends. She is just too focused, she is my role model.
Your mum is a designer; did this influence your fashion sense?
I think I am very spontaneous fashion wise. My friends actually tell me that I dress older than my age. I don’t like showing too much; they like to show a little bit of skin.