In just seven years, business owner Funlayo Alabi has made a significant mark on the billion-dollar skincare and hair care industries.
And she is well on her way to contributing to the already rapidly growing world of cosmetics, while dramatically changing the lives of women in Africa
So how did it all start? After noticing the wonders of shea butter while treating her son’s eczema, Funlayo Alabi started mixing shea butter lotions and shampoos in her kitchen. “He was suffering from very severe eczema. We had him on steroids. I thought to myself, This boy is going to live on steroids if I don’t find a more natural alternative” she explained. After all was said and done, Funlayo eventually birthed a skincare company with the mission to help women and communities in West Africa – that company is Shea Radiance.
Today, over 16,000,000 women make their livelihood from Funlayo’s product. Women collectors generate over 150 million dollars annually in Shea production yet many still survive on less than $1.25 a day.
Funlayo’s success keeps skyrocketing by the day, as she is now known as one of the pioneers of skincare products originated in Nigeria. With a very big heart and a mind full of ideas, this powerful woman defines her key to prosperity as “authenticity and staying true to yourself.”
Here is the official Q&A with Funlayo Alabi! Enjoy.
- What exactly inspired you to create Shea Radiance, and what was your vision for the brand?
My inspiration was first to solve the problem of eczema and dry skin for my family using shea butter as a key ingredient. My vision for the brand is to make women feel beautiful and powerful, first by creating beautiful natural products that deliver results and to be a bridge that connects our customers who are primarily women, with our supply chain partners who are the women shea producers in West Africa.
- What are some of the habits/ethics that helped make you successful?
Be authentic and true to yourself. Believe you have value to add to the lives of those around you, surround yourself with good people who have diverse skills, Be teachable, Be willing to change. Don’t give up.
- How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors and other skincare brands?
We create natural products that deliver results using carefully sourced pure unrefined shea butter. We know the women who produce our butter and so we get the best quality ingredient that delivers the best results to our customers. We use our brand to tell the story of the women in our supply chain and how every purchase a customer makes allows us to continue to engage these amazing women in the production of shea butter. Our producers are able to use the proceeds from their business to provide financially for their families.
- Who/what has been your biggest source of inspiration throughout your career? How did they help you?
I’ve had several sources of inspiration at different points in my entrepreneurial journey. These mentors have helped me just by their willingness to share their experiences, others have taken me under their wings and taught me how to be a better business woman. My mentors have been both men and women.
- What are some of your favorite cities in the world?
Dakar, Milan, Accra, New York to name a few – this list will grow as I hit all the cities on my bucket list
- In your own words, what is beauty?
It’s something on the inside that makes it’s way to the outside. Beauty is kindness, patience, love and joy that is expressed through a look or a smile. Beauty is being confident in your own skin, knowing you are fearfully and wonderfully made and embracing your uniqueness.
- A lot of women look up to you as a role model and an inspiration. What advice would you give to them in terms of pursuing their careers and following their dreams?
Don’t let fear keep you from realizing your dreams. It takes faith and courage to step out of your comfort zone, but once you do, there will be signs of affirmation. There will be challenges and failures but these are not reasons to quit, they are reasons to reassess your plan make adjustments and ask for help.
- Was Shea Radiance only created for women of color, or is it applicable to women of other races?
Shea Radiance was created for anyone who wants beautiful glowing skin and I will venture to say that women of all races desire that.
- What are some of the challenges you’ve face throughout your career, and how did you overcome them?
Funding was a big challenge and we have used various methods of financing to keep the business going including all our savings. loans from friends and family and Investors