I don’t have any biological sisters, but I do have sisters. Growing up, I used to beg my parents to have a daughter, as if they could just pick one up from the store after work like Chinese takeout. Being the eldest, I already had two brothers who helped me explore my tomboy tendencies by climbing trees and practicing the latest WWF signature moves, but I also wanted a sister. I wanted someone to help me experience being a girl. A sister to complain to about dish duty and cooking Hamburger Helper for the umpteenth time. To dream about our celebrity crushes and what to wear to this or that school dance. However, after having three kids, my mom wasn’t impressed by my childhood desires and the dream died. So, I thought.
Along the years, I met different women from different experiences, and realized that God remembered my desire from long ago and gave me more sisters than I could imagine. Joycee is one of them.
Joycee Awojoodu is the founder and creator of Oríkì Group, a luxury skincare brand that has expanded to salon and spa services. The skincare line focuses on products fused with natural and organic ingredients for the sophisticated, health conscious client. Each product is created in artisanal batches free of additives, parabens and sulfates. The who’s who in the fashion and style industry are catching on to this luxe brand. Even U.S. based fashion blogger Claire from the Fashion Bomb Daily has been spotted at Oríkì. The luxury brand is proudly based and thriving in Lagos, Nigeria.
G&P: What does Oríkì mean?
OG: It means origins, your crown and inspiration in Yoruba.
G&P: So, initially you moved to Nigeria from the states for your youth service. What inspired you to stay and start a business?
OG: I actually moved to Nigeria for an internship in the power sector because I had this budding and growing passion for my home although I had never been to Nigeria before. Once I started the internship, the team I worked with encouraged me to do youth service because in Nigeria it is a requirement to work in many places.
G&P: Ok, nice. So, while interning there the opportunities inspired you to stay. The power sector is a very specialized industry. What inspired you to transition from that to start Oríkì?
OG: For me, the power sector was always the industry I worked in from University days. So when I transitioned to Nigeria, it made sense to me to continue on in that sector especially, because it is a sector that needs an abundance of work to function properly. But innate within all of us is also a passion and as I call it your God -given destiny. That is where ORÍKÌ comes in.
G&P: I completely agree, It’s definitely time to put Africa on the map in a positive way. That’s part of the reason why I started my blog and even this series highlighting African female entrepreneurs who are succeeding in business legitimately, not through 419. LOL.
Describe Oríkì with three words.
OG: Proud, African, Luxury
G&P: Describe your morning routine.
OG: I wake up at 630 am every morning and first and foremost spend some time in prayer and worship. Afterward, I head to the gym for approx 1.5 hours and then its back home to get ready for work. In the car ride, I always outline all the necessary tasks for the day before I get into the office.
G&P: You mentioned prayer and worship as the first things you do, do you believe your faith and relationship with God has influenced your business decisions and where you are today?
OG: Drastically. In fact, it is the foundation of my business. It is the reason that I wake up everyday – to do God’s will. I am so committed to honoring Him and ensuring that I fulfill the destiny and purpose He has placed on my life.
G&P: Living on purpose is definitely motivating. When you know the direction you are suppose to go it can calm down any fears and energize your soul to become a positive influence to your generation.
What would you say is the greatest reward of being an entrepreneur?
OG: The greatest reward to me is impact. When you build something from inception you have a chance to influence and impact people around you, the business and the overall value chain. The impact could be anything from empowering and motivating your staff, to inventing new technology that changes the lives of many or even bringing exposure to a sector or country when there wasn’t exposure previously. Impact is limitless when you are an entrepreneur.
G&P: That’s true. Impact is limitless, but what would you say is the biggest challenge?
OG: Wow, great question. I would say for me personally it has been the lack of stable infrastructure. That is a common challenge in Nigeria.
G&P: I’ve heard that it can be a challenge. Can you give an example of how the current infrastructure has affected your business and what suggestions would provide to improve the infrastructure?
OG: The lack of stable electricity has caused s to supplement power needs with the use of a diesel generator which is quite expensive especially considering that we are open 7 days a week and also have a staff house that is powered during the night time.
G&P: What’s one thing you don’t know that you want to learn about your business?
OG: Great question, because its been on my mind a lot lately to become an expert at every aspect of my business. While the ORÍKÌ product range was the inception of the business and my passion, ORÍKÌ Group comprises of a luxury spa, Halo Hair Clinic, Men’s Grooming parlor and Scents by ORÍKÌ, a hand-carved candle line. I know almost every aspect of the business, but I am also slowly learning spa services – not to ever execute them on customers but rather just to have the knowledge.
G&P: Wow so many divisions! More strength to your elbows! Lol. It looks like you are rapidly learning because your business is bustling.
OG: So, I have to be honest, I haven’t had a day off in months. I’ve been at work everyday, because as a new business I’ve had to put my ALL into it and where many different hats. With that being said time off for me is best enjoyed in pure relaxation mode – spending time with loved ones or reading a book.
G&P: I hear you. Being a trailblazer isn’t easy. But I’m glad you get to relax at times. I am learning how to do that too. I’m running on two hours of sleep as we speak. God will help us sha.
OG: God will surely help us, it’s only by His grace. The best I’ve given, I know it sounds cliche but it’s love. It’s the best gift one could give and it’s the greatest gift God has given us!
G&P: Isn’t it the best gift He’s given?! Thank God for His love.
What is the best gift you received?
OG: The best gift I’ve received besides love, is my engagement ring *does happy dance* my fiancée Tola is a blessing from God. God had him planned for me before I was even conceived and I’m convinced of that. So, when he popped the question with the beautiful ring I felt so loved and so blessed to be his future wife.
G&P: Awwww….wedding bells are ringing! That’s lovely. I’m so excited.
What business icon would you shadow for a day?
OG: I am going to choose two if you would permit me? I would love love love to shadow Oprah Winfrey, I just think she’s all around amazing and on top of her stuff and also very inspiring and impactful in all that she does. Secondly, in this part of the world I would love to shadow Dangote – he has managed to build a conglomerate and continues to rise even when Africa isn’t the easiest place to do business.
G&P: You are definitely permitted. Both are amazing and inspirational choices.
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur in the diaspora who is interested in starting a business in Nigeria?
OG: Do your research, Be passionate about your idea, have faith, look for good labor – it can be hard to find, but it’s possible, and lastly don’t give up if you are truly passionate about it. Success doesn’t happen overnight.
1. Abuja or Lagos?
Abuja any day! LOL
2. Shoprite or Tyson’s Corner?
Tyson has it all
3. Mac or Nars?
4. Uber or Okada?
5. A night in or A night out?
A night In
6. Croquet braids or Croquet wig?
7. Shark Tank or Celebrity Apprentice?