I sat down with Victoria Ajayi, the visionary founder of Chow Noodle Bar to get to know her and find out more about the inspiration behind Nigerian’s Chinese food noodle bar.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Victoria Ajayi. I was born and raised in Lagos. I later moved to the UK for my tertiary education, where I studied pharmacy and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for several years in the UK. I am married with 2 kids, which keeps me busy and really put things into perspective.
I am a strong leader who is passionate about my own development as well as that of others around me. I am quirky with a weird sense of humor. I laugh easily, I love easy and I throw myself and all I have into everything I do.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line?
I have a purpose and agenda. I am motivated by the drive to find my purpose and live it out in all areas of my life. I want to die empty knowing I did my best and gave my best and lived my best life.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I enjoy going to the movies, hanging out with friends and reading. I read some fiction and a lot of books about self discovery, purpose and self-development. Fun fact about me is that I enjoy watching movies without sound (with subtitles of course).
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Having taken my business from inception to where it is today. I am also very proud of my volunteer work where we run community empowerment initiatives.
We recently had a Children’s Drive for Valentine’s Day where we spent the day with children on the streets and gave them parcels with colouring books, food, devotionals and colouring pencils.
We also held a Widows outreach for International Widows Day where the ladies came together to share their experiences with people who understand what they’re going through. We also gave the ladies makeovers. It was an emotional healing session.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur would have to be learning the different aspects of running a business. Figuring out what needs to be done and getting it done.
What was the inspiration behind your business and how did you come up with the name for your company?
Chow Noodle Bar was birthed in uni. There was a restaurant/diner we frequented that had affordable generous portions and that is what I decided to go for and bring home.
I am very passionate about this business and when I started I was very selective about my team so they can share my passion. I am constantly working on identifying areas of self-improvement for them and myself which will in turn grow my business.
Well, there’s three parts to the name. Chow is a Nigerian & Chinese term that everyone associates with food, Noodle because we knew we were making Noodles (duh) and Bar because we were going for a casual bar setting as opposed to a formal restaurant setting.
Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.
At Chow Noodle Bar we are all about providing an authentic tasteful and vibrant Asian street food experience. We have positioned ourselves to cater for those with a fast lifestyle who eat out at least once a day because of long hours.
What has been a make or break moment in your entrepreneurial journey?
When I was pregnant with my first son, the business was still new and I was still doing everything myself. It was a very challenging time and I wasn’t in a position to hire anyone so I had to either carry on by myself or quit. I carried on and managed through the ups and downs of pregnancy and got done what needed to get done.
How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?
We’ve established and positioned our brand as a household name through packaging.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
My goal is for Chow Noodle Bar to become a Franchise model with multiple stores around Africa. We also want to host a training academy for youth that focuses on skill acquisition such as offering internships in different industries using our franchises.
What’s been the most significant thing you’ve done to grow your business?
I’d say constantly asking and listening to what the customer wants and then changing and evolving with our customers.
What would you say are the top three characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Having a spirit f persistence and determination, leadership and having a clear sense of purpose and self awareness, having values and staying true to them.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Putting some system in place and automating and delegating as much as possible.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?
Do not allow the state of things (in business, industry, economy etc.) to dictate your emotions.
What is your favorite book?
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
What advice will you give young entrepreneurs who are just starting out?’
Have a clear plan and persist to make your plan come to pass. You must also be flexible.
Victoria is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program hard at work preparing Chow Noodle Bar to grow and become a franchise model all across Africa.