Starting any business is a challenge, but starting one right before a global pandemic is a challenge of another scale.
Ejiro Owusu made it happen when she decided to channel all her passion for sustainable beauty into building a business from scratch. Leaving behind her career in pharmaceuticals, Ejiro put her heart and soul into creating a sustainable business that brings her joy and reward every day, here’s what happened when we met at her incredible London studio…
What inspired your business?
Sugaring came on my radar and I thought to myself: “I absolutely love this.” It’s natural, it’s sustainable. It has less waste compared to traditional waxing. I just felt it needed to be out there and in more places where people can have it as an option; that was the most important thing to me. Before I moved into sugaring, I was working in pharmaceuticals. I was a medical representative and had no experience within the beauty industry, whatsoever. Zip, nothing. But what I did have was entrepreneurial experience; it’s probably the main core of my career. I’ve always been an entrepreneur since I finished my Masters degree, which made it a lot easier for me to explore new ideas and later start a business. I used my learned skills to start this business which was through a discovery of sugaring on my journey of sustainability. I just thought: “You know what, I can make this [sugaring] into a business.”
So, how did Ejiro come about?
I actually started my business, Ejiro Studio, through social media and I gained my support in regards to other female entrepreneurs through Instagram and other social platforms. Having a social presence has really positively impacted my growth, my confidence and my knowledge as well. And I believe that’s what enabled me to be a pioneer in this industry. I started the business online, which I believe created a community of other female entrepreneurs who have provided me with support and given me knowledge; it just helped me with my understanding within the industry. I was amazed at how many people were also looking for sugaring as an option, and not just people who are interested in sustainability, but also people who have sensitive skin. Knowing there were other people who were just as passionate about natural beauty and natural skincare as I am, gave me the confidence to open a physical shop.
Photography: Noor and Zee
Operating as a new business during the pandemic must’ve been tough?
The bravest thing I have ever done is decided to expand my business within the pandemic. Whilst also being pregnant and becoming a new mum; it’s definitely been the bravest thing I’ve ever done. My biggest challenge and main focus was trying to keep my business going during the pandemic and also keeping the morale of my employees going, as well as my audience, and my customers. They are the people who have enjoyed coming to our studio to have treatments and it’s important to keep in contact with them. I questioned myself a lot during the pandemic; making the decision whether or not to close the business or hold on, and not knowing when the business would reopen or when the industry was going to lift its restrictions. I often thought: “Do I just go and do something else?”
That sounds really challenging.
Oh yes. And everyone was going through their own issues, so I think that was my biggest challenge; trying to keep everyone’s spirits lifted in addition to my own spirits as well. I’ve learned from that experience that I’m a lot more resilient than I probably anticipated. The word I would like to use is: courageous. I’ve managed to still stand during a really difficult period and laugh as well, and find happier moments, but also to grow as an individual. So yes, the pandemic has made me view my business differently. I’m definitely a lot more aware of being prepared. As an entrepreneur you don’t necessarily think about it when you start a business, but there will be risks you may come across, so you do need to be prepared for those. The pandemic has shown me that you always need to be ready. No matter what it may be: a pandemic, a recession, or even having a baby. It could be anything really, so it’s just being ready to change direction or think of new ideas or be ready for opportunities. I believe that’s something powerful that I’ve learned through this time.
Have you ever received great advice?
The best advice I’ve ever received was: “You can’t expect to win big without taking big risks.” It was advice from my dad, and I would say it’s definitely the best advice he has given me, because each step, each milestone I have achieved throughout this journey has been as a result of me taking really, really big risks. It’s later, further down the line, that you realise how those challenges and risks have changed and shaped you. For me, taking big risks is what gives me big rewards. Following my passion was the biggest risk, and it will be the biggest risk for anyone else too. But that’s what makes it exciting and that’s what passion is all about. It fuels your body, it excites you and makes you want to wake up early in the morning and work on an idea or work on your passion to see it grow. To me, if you want to have big rewards, you have to chase your passion until it comes into fruition.
Photography: Noor and Zee
What is your superpower?
Photography: Noor and Zee
And have you ever made any mistakes?
Yes, of course! The biggest mistake I’ve ever made is not following my passion earlier, much earlier on in my life, or having that confidence to execute my idea. I hope I can inspire women to change from very early on and to feel confident and to feel like go-getters from the beginning, from when they’re in school or from when they are very young. I believe confidence is something that takes a while to develop. But I wish that more women could gain that confidence a lot earlier, because I think women are incredible. If we all supported each other, we can absolutely change the world. Teamwork and coming together is going to make a real difference. It’s easy for us to accept that just one person can’t make a difference, but in actual fact one person joining another person, joining another person, becomes ten people and a team. That can, and does, make a difference. It’s the best way to get a passion project off to a flying start – by speaking with anyone within your circle; whether that’s your friend, your mum, or a colleague. And the main reason for doing that is just so that you can get that idea out of your head. It’s really easy for us to hold onto an idea and think: “I’m too scared to talk about it.” But that very first person that you share the idea with is what starts to make your passion, your idea, a reality.
Find more amazing business tips and advice at http://marieclaire.co.uk/passionpioneers