HGCP 2021 Participants: Victoria Ajayi founded Chow Noodle Bar from her drive to find her purpose.

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.

    “At the age of 12, I was already selling.” Meet Feligold Food and Spice owner, Felicia Ogumah

    Felicia Ogumah is the brains and strength behind Feligold Food and Spices, a food company based in Warri, Delta State that began in October 2019. They package and sell food items like dry fish, crayfish, prawns, melons and local spices. Felicia’s business skill is something that has been cultivated since childhood. She says, “I grew up selling. At the age of 12, I was already selling. I think it is something that is a part of me. My friends tell me ” Feli there is nothing you can not sell. Even if they package stick and give you, you will sell.”

    This article covers Felicia’s experiences running Feligold food and spice and valuable lessons you can take away from it.

    Warning: Checking Felicia’s Facebook and Instagram page, will make you buy something.

    What is the inspiration behind Feligold Food and Spice?

    It, first of all, came as an insight, an inspiration from God. When I first started, it was something I really just wanted to do with everything that I have and am. God was stirring it in my heart to do it and so far it has been very profitable. God has been involved in the sourcing to get my products. I had no level of experience, I had no one putting me through, I did not go for any offline or even online training on Food and Spice. Divine connection came in. God was strategically connecting me to people. In fact, I am amazed!

    If it is just crayfish you want to sell, put all your effort into selling that crayfish. Don't jump into doing everything at once. Pick one thing and try to get the best out of it before moving to something else. Click To Tweet

    How do you manage Feligold Food and Spice?

    For now, we ship to Benin, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Anambra. We have even shipped to a customer in Europe. That particular customer contacted me through Instagram. In fact, I get most of my customers online. The lockdown affected us because most of my clients are outside Delta State.  When the roads were eventually opened, the cost of the way-bill was high. Doing business right now is not the way it was before the virus. I pray everything goes back to normal”

    If you choose to do something, let it be something people identify you with because you are passionate about what you are doing. Click To Tweet

    From her business experience with Feligold Food and Spice, Felicia has three major business tips.

    1. Have a good reason for starting your business. Don’t go into the food business only because you think it is something that must sell. Everybody is into food business now. You have to have a passion for it and know why you started. It is important to know your why!
    2. Be focused. If it is just crayfish you want to sell, put all your effort into selling that crayfish. Don’t jump into doing everything at once. Pick one thing and try to get the best out of it before moving to something else.
    3. Be known for something. Let people know you for something. If you choose to do something, let it be something people identify you with because you are passionate about what you are doing.

    Continue reading ““At the age of 12, I was already selling.” Meet Feligold Food and Spice owner, Felicia Ogumah”

    “Your Skin Is A Priority” Meet Adi + Bolga Co-Founder Oluwaferanmi Ogundipe

    If you meet Feranmi, you may wonder, “why does she love skincare so much? What is it about skincare that makes her tick?” Feranmi’s love for skincare stemmed from her personal battle with acne some years ago. During our conversation, she said, “I wasn’t one to have acne and at one point I had terrible acne and everyone was like “Feranmi, what is going on with your skin?”

    Struggling with acne or other skin conditions? Download the Adi + Bolga app to get skin care advice and solutions today!

    I remember walking into pharmacies to ask for a solution and they couldn’t quite give me guidance. I remember going back and asking a new friend that I just met because I saw that she had some insight into skincare and she said, “I think you have combination skin and you should get a gel cleanser.”

    I got the gel cleanser and just that small tip from her made my life so much easier. My co-founder and have had this type of experience so we said why don’t we just create something for skincare that will help people out?”

    “Your skin is a priority”

    Feranmi believes that skincare is a necessity for every person. That is one of the guiding ideas for the platform she and her co-founder are working tirelessly to create. However, she acknowledges that different reasons- a major one being money, keeps us from making our skincare a priority.

    Adi + Bolga plans to help out with this by creating a budget-friendly system for buying skincare products. As Feranmi said, “we are trying to see if we can help people pay in installments for some of the products because not everyone can afford to buy all of the products they need at once. This will really be for those who have serious problems with acne or other skin care conditions.”

    Adi + Bolga has just launched its platform, BARE to help you navigate the confusing chatter around skincare, particularly for black men and women anywhere in the world, through virtual consultations and accurate product matching to skin type and skin conditions. On their platform, you can get a skin analysis, product recommendations, and a clear plan on how to use them.

    Adi + Bolga is also the parent company of Bare the Community, an interactive online community for skincare lovers. On there, they share stunning skincare content and offer great advice and product recommendations for different skin types and conditions.

    What you can learn from Feranmi’s business experience

    • Know your why: Your goal should be at the forefront of your mind. Be clear on your why. Know what you are in that space to do. This will guide the skills you decide to learn to run your business well. This will also guide the kind of strategies you put in place for your business.
    • Listen to your customers: Sometimes, people reach out to us for product recommendations and the product we may want to recommend is not within their budget or easily accessible in their location. This lets us know how best we can serve our audience. It may now lead to questions like, do we look for cheaper or more accessible products to recommend? Do we contact the brand to find out if they can make their product accessible to our audience?
    • Make your services clear: It is important to make your services clear and understandable to the people you are trying to serve. One of our main challenges is getting people to understand that our service is new. It is not common. We are introducing a new idea to the public and it is always a challenge getting them to understand what we do and why it is beneficial. Let’s say I develop a cream, that will be easy to sell because everybody understands what cream is and what cream should do. I can easily push that but a beauty tech platform is different. It is a very new idea so I need to make sure our services are clear.

    You can join the Adi+Bolga community by following Bare the Community on Twitter and Instagram. For more juicy skincare tips sign up for their newsletters.