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Meet the Boss, Kafilat Umar, Sherry Organics

Kafilat Umar, a barrister & solicitor, was excited when the world began to go organic because it meant she could put her skills as an organic formulator to good use. And that’s exactly what she did when she started Sherry Organics in September 2015.  She talks to Joy Ehonwa about her business.

What’s the story behind Sherry Organics? What inspired you to start such a unique and exciting business?

I have always been interested in beauty products because I like to know what goes in whatever I put on my skin.

To be honest I didn’t consider pursuing a career in it initially. When I got my first Blackberry, I became really interested in what ingredients go into my products. I started to Google ingredients before buying products and checking reviews online. I soon discovered the particular ingredients to look out for or avoid to target specific skin concerns.

In my final year, I had become a bit popular on Twitter for recommending products and I had also started to make body scrubs, mix creams and oils at home for myself and it was amazing. I decided to start a skincare consultancy for free just because I enjoyed it. So armed with my Encyclopedia of Cosmetology I set about helping people.

Fast forward to May 2015, I finally got a job, the pay was poor, my boss was unbearable and I started to lose interest in Law. I needed a way out as things weren’t working like I planned. My friend Itunu, also a young lawyer like myself was already running a successful fabric business while also working at a top law firm. She inspired and encouraged me, I knew I could do it and I had tons of encouragement from all my friends so I drew a business plan and started doing research. I took a few online courses and I knew I was ready!

Give us a peek into your range. What kinds of products do you offer?

Sherry Organics has body soufflés (mango/vanilla fragrance), beautifying body oil, face oils (acne prone/oily skin or dry, mature and oily skin), and body scrubs (Turkish mocha/coconut fragrance).

Which groups of people did you have in mind when setting up this business?

My target market is any individual that loves quality, natural products that work! I also ensure full disclosure on product content and their sources, so I guess you can say my target market also includes people who have an interest in the content of their skin products. Eventually, I’d love to offer custom made products tailored to meet the unique skin concerns and expectations of every customer.

How did you raise capital for the business?

Initially, I assumed this would be a daunting task because I was just a lowly paid law associate. However, one of my friends saw how passionate I was and provided most of the initial funds I needed. I also got funding from my mum. However, I realised that in Nigeria getting funds to start isn’t the issue, it’s funding to keep the business afloat. I depend a lot on import and the exchange rate has been HELL! However, instead of reducing quality, I have found other ways to ensure that I remain in business and I’m very optimistic things will get better. I have amazing plans for the next year.

What were your biggest challenges starting out?

I literally had zero issues starting out. My cargo was a month overdue but then that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s hard to get lots of basic things in Nigeria; I’m hoping that will change in a few years so the business will be less export dependent.

How have people responded to Sherry Organics so far?

The reception has been amazing. I didn’t think it would be this great. I had this entire set of testers that I eventually sold because when few people tested my products they were immediately willing to pay to get more!  I’m so thankful to God and every single person that has bought from me.

Which of your products have customers ordered the most?

Customers just can’t get enough of the soaps!

Sherry Organics soaps

Sherry Organics soaps

Not many are doing what you’re doing right now, but that’s changing. What’s your unique selling point; why should Nigerians choose you over competitors?

Actually, quite a number of people are now into organics but not that many people have the kind of packaging and product range I have. I also pride myself on good customer relations. I try to please customers and follow up with their progress often. I’m huge on good packaging and customer relations and I think that’s why people patronize me initially till they find out the products are good. I have thrived on return customers and referrals so I’m sure I’m doing something good.

I think people should choose my products because they get good value for their money and once you buy from me your skin becomes my business.

sherry organics gift baskets

Gift baskets

Who are your role models/mentors?

Hmmm, I’m inspired by every woman out there who strives to make a name and money for herself. I come from a family of strong and inspiring women who have managed to hold their own; I might not always agree with them but they sure inspire me. I always say I’m hoping to be Nigeria’s answer to Body Shop, Lush, Soap & Glory, etc.

What role does the internet play in growing your business?

My entire business is internet based. 95% of my customers come from social networks. I can’t afford ads yet so I promote the products on social media by myself! I definitely won’t be where I am today without the internet.

What is your long-term vision for Sherry Organics?

I used to have a 5-year plan, now I have a 2-year plan. I’m taking full courses before the end of the year to qualify as an International Organic Formulator after which I intend on starting my own spa and other things. The possibilities are endless and this is only the beginning.

 

Phone: 08066456857
Twitter: @SherryOrganics
Instagram: @sherry_organics

Click here to contact Sherry Organics directly

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Joy Ehonwa

Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    An Afrikan Butterfly

    25th July 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Inspiring!
    Well done, Kafilat!

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