Onyinye Okwuofu Okocha was a 26 years old lawyer (non-practicing )when she lost her husband to the Dana Air flight crash in 2012. Faced with the reality of having to fend for herself and her daughter Jessica, Onyinye had to take her destiny into her hands and make a success of herself against all odds.
Onyinye enrolled in the Fate Foundation Aspiring Entrepreneur’s programme and also attended a catering school. She is now the creative director of Kairos Treats. Outside running her hustle, Onyinye is a member of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Neca Network of Women Entrepreneurs (NNEW), and International Cake Exploration Society (ICES).
What gave you the courage to turn your hurdle into success at a time you were going through a very tough situation?
With the death of my husband, I was faced with the reality of having to fend for my then 15-month old daughter and I. Though I had the sympathy of friends, family, and colleagues who rallied around to support me, I was aware that everyone also had their lives to live and responsibilities to shoulder. I, therefore, told myself that I couldn’t afford to be a burden to anyone. I wanted my dignity as a woman and mother intact. When one keeps going cap in hand to seek for assistance, it is only a matter of time before things go south.
I had been trained by my parents to be independent and content, then to consistently reach for more and do better. I have a daughter who I want to be proud of me, I knew I had to fight back and succeed for her. Most of all my courage and confidence came from the promise I had in God.
I made up my mind to show forth God’s goodness irrespective the circumstance. The fact speaks for itself. Before I started Kairos Treats I had tried other business which did not work out work out so well. I eventually attended an entrepreneurship course at Fate Foundation and also attended a catering school following a leading from God to so do and the rest is history.You would succeed if only you try. If you do not try you have already failed Click To Tweet
What can you tell other women who are going through difficulties they think they can’t get past? How they can pick themselves up?
To every woman out there who may be going through a hurdle, it seems like the bottom is caving in and you are sinking fast and you just can’t stay afloat. Whether you lost a spouse, child, job, your business is struggling whatever be the case; I say to you, innate in you is the capacity to not just go through it but to come out refined as gold. Precious jewels go through the fire before the beauty we see is brought forth.
Know that you are more than the situation and will come through a success. I fought for my future, fight back for your destiny. God has got your back, do what it takes to get better, obtain knowledge, enter strategic relationships, walk out of unproductive or abusive relationship. Don’t just sit back and throw a pity party, get up and go. You would succeed if only you try. If you do not try you have already failed.
If you try once and things do not seem to work, do not give up; learn from the experience, make the necessary adjustment and try again. I first began to import and sell shoes, which did not go so well. I then went back to my first love makeup artistry, but I had to give that up because of its mobile nature, my daughter needed me.Precious jewels go through the fire before the beauty we see is brought forth Click To Tweet
How has it been running your business and taking care of your daughter as a single parent?
Raising a daughter and running Kairos Treats has not been a piece of cake, but God’s grace has been sufficient.
The early days was pretty tough, I didn’t have a help. I would attend to my daughter by myself, get her to school, do all the baking and decoration.
I often had to work over night, effect deliveries, pick her up from school, attend to her again, think of ways to increase sales and clientele, find a way to pick our bills, grapple with personal and family issues…then there was a pending law suit plus all the drama dished out by the solicitors representing Dana air. Wth all that, I still had to manage to look good, put on a smile and carry on like all was well.
God lovingly held my hand through it all and it all got better with time.
Could you give us some insight of how you started Kairos Treats? How have you built the business so far to become its creative director?
As I mentioned earlier, some months after my husband passed on, I began to import and sell shoes. That did not go so well, so I decided to go back to my first love, makeup artistry. The mobile nature of being a makeup artist made me have a rethink, I needed to be available for my daughter so I took time out to inquire from God what to do.
I needed to make money and also have time to attend to my daughter. While I waited, I attended Aspiring Entrepreneurship program at Fate Foundation to obtain requisite entrepreneurial training. Towards the end of the programme, I got clear directions to attend a catering school. On graduating, I registered my company as Kairos’n’kosh with the help of a dear friend.
We started really humbly, it was just me. I had just basic equipment and had to borrow some things initially. A major boost to our sales and clients came via a strategic partnership with DealDey. Clientele increased and it began pertinent to get hands. We soon got the hang of things, expanded production to include meals , small chops, healthy drinks and training. We recently rebranded to Kairos Treats.The knowledge of law has been so helpful in my business dealings. Law practice is beyond going to court Click To Tweet
You are a law graduate, why did you decide to go the path of making confectioneries?
Yes I am not just a law graduate, but a barrister and solicitor of the supreme court of Nigeria. Entrepreneurship is however innate in me, even from my undergraduate days, I engaged in one business or the other, I was inspired by my mentor Tara Fela Durotoye who also left her law degree to pursue her passion in makeup.
The knowledge of law has however been so helpful in my business dealings and life in general. Law practice is beyond going to court, there is the solicitor’s part to it. I sometimes handle some documentation and all, I often say law is my retirement plan.
In your experience, would you say a woman can be successful in any endevour she pursues if perhaps she no longer has a husband? Don’t you think the journey will be tougher?
A woman can definitely be successful in any endeavor she chooses to engage in, as long as she stays focused and goes after it with the same passion she uses to nurture a child whether or not she has a husband.
Can you tell us what keeps you going and on top of your game?
God and my daughter keep me going. The deep rooted conviction to succeed irrespective of the odds keep me going. Some days are really tough, the bills are often high, so many decisions to make, so many things to do, it gets lonesome at times, the list can go on, but I often tell ,myself it is just a feeling and would soon pass, I remind myself of the little victories and how God has always come through for me, I turn to God in worship, that is my recharge system and my daughter is super sweet.
Some days are really tough, the bills are often high. There are so many decisions to make, so many things to do, it gets lonely at times, the list can go on. But I often tell myself it is just a feeling and would soon pass. I remind myself of the little victories and how God has always come through for me. I turn to God in worship, that is my recharge system and my daughter is super sweet.
Also, I have great friends and family, they seem to know when to place a call, drop in or send a gift. All in all, I would say I am truly blessed and I have learnt to maintain a joyful disposition. Joy attracts goodness.Onyinye Okwuofu Okocha:It gives me so much joy when people say that my story encouraged them Click To Tweet
You were featured in a magazine recently, what was the experience like and how has it impacted your life and business?
I was recently featured in Mommy Moments magazine.It was an honor to share my story, it gives me so much joy when people say that my story encouraged them and they got the push to go past their present hurdle after reading the article.
That for me is the best thing that has come out of my circumstance. My life’s goal is to encourage many and show forth the goodness of God. It also had a positive impact on my business, as the feature gave me and my business more exposure; we generated more clients’ after the feature.
You mentioned in a Facebook update “forge ahead against all odds and reach out to others”. Could you tell us the ways you reach out to other women in your community?
I engage in some advocacy, counseling and support for widows especially young once on a one on one basis. Recently, I realized the need for a support group for these special women and have created a Facebook page called ‘Jehovah’s Divas’.
I have also by the grace of God helped to empower some women by offering them in some cases free and heavily subsidized baking training.
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