Banke Ajayi is the founder of Ahjayee – a skin and hair care product for men. She studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering as her first degree. She later did an MSc in Financial Engineering and most recently an MBA focusing on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Her career started in Technology then she moved into Investment banking where she currently works as a Risk Consultant.
In this interview, Banke talks about how she developed her brand and dived into entrepreneurship.
Where did your obsession for skin and hair products come from?
My journey in skin and hair care started over a decade ago when I couldn’t really find hair products in the market which worked for my hair but I wasn’t sure how to fix this problem.
Growing up my mum also mixed different oils into the hair products she bought and I and my sisters’ hair flourished under her care.
Honestly, I kind of forgot about this but it all came back when I happened to pass a store which used natural butter and oils for their products.
I actually saw some oils my mum had used. From then on I was hooked, I watched videos, researched online, attended courses and started making natural hair and skin products for family and friends.
I studied sciences and engineering which I think helped in understanding the “chemistry” part of this journey. As we used these products, we found our hair become healthier, creams worked better and best of all, we knew exactly what we using.
What motivated you to launch Ahjayee?
People asked why didn’t I start this as a business, but back then starting a small business was not as accessible as it is now.
I carried on researching and mixing, then about 2 years ago, I started seriously thinking about starting a business. My main motivation was to create a range of products using the best nature has to offer, which do what they are intended for, where every ingredient plays a part in delivering results for the person using them.
This was the first part, the second was to create products in which the customer played a huge part, products which fit into their lives easier.
The products had to be of high quality, and customer feedback is an integral part of product development. Without the customer, there is no business.
Why did you decide to focus on male products only?
I was talking to a male friend and he mentioned how he felt there wasn’t a lot out there for him in terms of products he could use which were simple, easy and just functional.
This was a light bulb moment for me. What if I could create a line exclusively for men, but not just a product line but one which gave men a little something special daily.
Many conversations later, some more research and Ahjayee was born in 2017. Our aim, to bring a touch of luxury to his everyday routine with quality, effective and easy to use products.
Do you plan on branching into women hair and skin products too?
Not at the moment but certainly something we wouldn’t rule out. That said, some of our products are unisex. Such as the skin cream or face serum, and we have seen quite a few women who like the more woody or earthy scents who buy our products.
Tell us about your products. Which is your favorite?
The range includes Face & Body, Beard & Shaving, and Hair products. All their ingredients are carefully thought out and add a function to the overall product, cutting out anything unnecessary. Our products are all natural and free from any nasties.
Our tagline: “Be your own handsome” encourages men to spend a little more time in taking care of themselves.
Picking a favorite would be very difficult as each one was inspired by different instances or needs so all have a special place in my heart.
Where are your products made, and who has access to them?
Why did you choose your last name (Ajayi) AhJayee as your brand name?
This came about one afternoon during a car ride. I was talking with my friend and her sister who does branding, we were discussing logos and my vision for the brand, then my friend says – why not a play on your name.
We spelled it out phonetically and it just seemed to work. The rest they say is history.
Have you experienced any challenges since inception? And how did you overcome them?
I would say the first challenge was balancing my 9-5 with Ahjayee. The trick has been to understand you can’t do everything at once. Therefore, my to-do list and daily can-do attitude have been key to managing both.
The second has been marketing and PR, I have had to pay a lot of attention to this as it is a new area for me.
It has been a really interesting journey and I have learned so much and still learning. I had to take additional classes and speak to people who have been through this, all in all, I am loving the process.
Where do you see Ahjayee in the near future?
I hope to continue to grow and get new customers, getting valuable input from them which will allow us to give them better service and products.
When you’re not testing or mixing creams and soaps, what are you doing?
I love running, cycling, walking and traveling to new places. When I am keeping still, you will normally find me reading.