A Chat with Pam: Chinomso Grace Okoli

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To be honest, I don’t know where and how to start with this interview session. Grace Okoli is something else in a good way. I love to call her Shanyi as she is the CEO of Shanyi Organics.

To be honest, I have got deep love for this lady. She is a typical example of young exceptional ladies doing great things. It’s even more beautiful cause we have got quite a number of things in common. You need to watch her video on our Facebook page.

Pam: Hello Grace, I must confess it’s amazing to have you on this platform. How do you feel being described as an exceptional lady?

Grace Okoli:  I’m more than thrilled to be here. Thanks so much for the privilege. I feel like you are stating a fact cause I’m truly an EXCEPTIONAL LADY. My kind is rare.

I LOVE THE CONFIDENCE

Pam: I am in love with the name “Shanyi”, what’s the origin of the name?

Grace Okoli: Thanks dear. I fall in love with it too everyday, not because it’s foreign but because of its translation ‘Grace’. About its origin, growing up I didn’t see anything spectacular about my name, plus the fact that it was a very COMMON name, made me despise it more. One day back in the university, I stumbled on a foreign translation of my friend’s name and decided to try mine. I tried German, it didn’t work cause I couldn’t pronounce it, then I tried Chinese and bam I hit the gold mine. I just knew that was it – Shányì.

Well, I am in love with my name so I won’t be on the look out for any foreign translation. *winks*

To be honest, when I first stumbled on her brand via Instagram, I fell in love with it immediately. 

Pam: Before you enlighten us on how and why you started, what’s the Shanyi Organics brand about?

Grace Okoli: It is an Organic Beauty Brand. We create safe and organic equivalent to all beauty and household products. From bathing soaps, to perfumes, to liquid dish soap. We are eliminating chemicals and embracing beauty as nature intends.

Pam: When, why and how did you start?

Grace Okoli: Shanyi Organics started out of frustration in two levels. First, I’ve been natural haired all my life, but at some point my hair stopped growing, started breaking, became light and weightless due to constant use of hot combs and wrong hair practices generally. I cut my hair out of frustration in 2014 and decided to treat it well. With no pocket friendly natural products to buy, I started whipping mine in a small corner in my hostel room.

That it started out of frustration doesn’t mean nothing good would come out of it.

Second frustration, I wrote my final exams in December 2014, with high hopes that I’d graduate with my mates, go for NYSC in 2015, travel to Canada for my Masters in 2016 and never return to Nigeria. Then I got one of the greatest shockers ever, I was not graduating with my mates. Apparently my school made a mistake on my result and it took them a year to fix.
Frustration or depression was an understatement to how I felt. That phase of my life drew me to God and that was when I discovered His purpose for me.

What do you do when those dreams or plans don’t actualize? 

I continued whipping my hair care products, sharing them with my sisters, mother, friends and everyone. Then I opened a blog and shared my recipe there. That was how it started. Readers started asking if I sold those products, the request kept increasing and I kept avoiding them. Few months down the line, after so much persistence from my blog readers I finally decided to give it try.

Pam: In the span of one year, I feel your business has grown tremendously, do you think the name “grace” has played a role in this growth?

Grace Okoli:  Whooosshh!! You got that right girl.. It’s been GOD’S GRACE on every side. I can’t even say it’s been my doing. If it was just me I’d have given up a long time ago

When God gives you a vision, He would definitely ensure you scale through in spite of the difficulties.

Pam: You have been doing lots of re-branding lately, most times businesses wait to establish themselves before re-branding, why did you embark on this journey just after a year of launching?

Grace: I had a background in science – Microbiology, so I had no prior knowledge on how to run a sustainable business structure. I was just producing and selling. Roughly 6 months into my business I knew I had to treat it like a business not a hobby. Then I started thinking of ways to restructure and do things right, it was then I stumbled on a business training organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria and my business mindset was reshaped.

Don’t just leave it as a hobby, it could turn out to be a massive source of income, SO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!!!!

For those who don’t know, the natural hair movement is a very strong one, I won’t be surprised if few years from now, virtually almost every African woman is embracing her natural hair.

Pam: Why should we use Shanyi Organics products?

Grace Okoli: Our products are made from certified organic ingredients, no chemicals, no bad stuff. Our products are results oriented. We help you create magic on your hair. Your hair is in safe hands when you use our products.

I would say, use it because it’s a NIGERIAN brand, it’s high time we start believing and supporting NIGERIAN brands.

Pam: What should we look forward to in the next six months from Shanyi Organics?

Grace Okoli: We would be launching our curly kids hair care range and men beard and hair care range. We would have stockists in major retail stores across Nigeria.

That’s a major one, even the guys are not left out.

Pam: What advice would you give to teenage girls as regards to how they can make the most of those years?

Grace Okoli: The earlier you turn your ears off the worlds definition about you and look inward to discover the priceless potentials God has deposited in you, the better.

I couldn’t have said it any better, those are crucial years and once you realize your validation is in God, you won’t be living off the validation of others. 

Pam: There’s an orientation the society has that as women we can’t have it all, what’s your take on this and any advice?

Grace Okoli: Like you said, it’s just an orientation. The way our society is, women are made to believe that they can’t be successful wives, mothers and career women or business owners at the same time.

We are made to trade one or more aspect of our lives which usually is our career or following our passion to become full time house care takers.

However, this is not true because every woman CAN HAVE IT ALL, but not at the same time. By this I mean that we can start building a successful career or business now as singles. Work tirelessly on building a solid foundation for our dreams and aspirations. While when we are married and start having kids, our businesses or career might suffer a bit as we have family to attend to. That way we are able to shuffle our responsibilities at different aspects of our lives by daily setting our priorities right.

When I face a big challenge, I…

pray

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done as a person is…

take the dive into entrepreneurship

If I could go back in time to when I started my business, I would tell myself…

don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are integral part of the journey.

The best advice I have ever been given is….

never wait for a perfect time, it doesn’t exist.

My favorite business tool…

Instagram

My favorite quote is….

the best time to start was last year, the next best time is NOW.

Grace Okoli is one that every exceptional lady should connect with, you can find her on Facebook and if you are a lady with natural hair, you don’t need to look too far. Shanyi Organics has got you covered.

I am using her products and I am loving it daily so head over to her page on Facebook and Instagram. 

Are you a female startup entrepreneur?

Do you believe your story is worth sharing?

If yes, why not send us an email: pamakinlosotu@icloud.com

 

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