Allergy issues can be quite challenging to deal with, and doctors often have no solutions to a lot of them. This is especially true in Nigeria, so a Nigerian entrepreneur producing cosmetics specially formulated with allergies in mind, is engaged in truly life-changing work. In this interview with Clare Anyiam-Osigwe, she talks to Omonefe Eruotor about her passion for Africa, the effects of food on the human skin, entrepreneurship, and making a difference.
You have received a couple of awards as an individual and for your organisation, including the Women4Africa award in 2012, Most Inspirational Woman award in 2014, and now you have been honoured by the Queen of England, how does it feel?
It’s lovely that my goals are worthy of local, national and international recognition. For any entrepreneur and small business owner, awards can be the additional boost of confidence to continue striving and to keep up the good work. It also makes a great impression on customers and inspires consumer trust.
How do you think your business will be affected in years to come by continuous recognition of your work?
It will open up international doors as I begin to expand into UAE and Africa. This has always been my ultimate goal. I am Nigerian, Igbo born, and raised in London. I have always had a strong connection to my motherland and want to bring my British education and skills home to help the next generation.
For a lot of people, growing a brand is slow and challenging. How did you grow your brand? Were you ever tempted to give up?
Never. No true entrepreneur ever considers quitting. Like Thomas Edison, the great inventor, we just find multiple ways to make mistakes and overcome hurdles. Yes, it is challenging and there are times when you question whether you can truly survive, but the key is to keep adjusting the goal, being flexible in your execution and staying in your lane. Be true to your brand values. You will win in the end.
You had to start working on cosmetics in a bid to cater for yourself and eventually for others. What are the benefits of your products for people with allergies?
Premae was the first beauty company to test for allergies causing acne (pimples), eczema and a host of other skin disorders including psoriasis and dermatitis, on humans. Using my naturally vegan (vegetable based) mixtures, I was able to eliminate toxins from the skin and see people’s skin cells completely transform- resulting in beautiful clear skin, free from allergic reactions. Five years on, we now offer facials and dietary consultation to help people even further.
In recent years it seems there has been a rise in the number of people with allergies, is there a reason why?
The food industry has a lot to do with this. The rise of gluten in rice and pasta (wheat) is a serious problem. This ingredient can contribute to dryness in the skin. In severe cases, it leads to eczema. Sugar – in the form of corn syrup, fructose and sucrose should be avoided as it can lead to acne in the skin and leaking gut – so bloated stomach, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and more severe problems like ADHD and even infertility.
For a lot of people in developing countries including Nigeria, a huge challenge in the management of allergies is identifying what you are allergic to. Do you have any advice for us?
Yes, you can send us a list of your current diet and skin regime for us to write a comprehensive report for you follow. We prescribe our products and also recommend eliminating and readjusting your diet with healthy alternatives. You can do this via www.premaeskincare.com
Apart from cosmetics, would you delve into any other area to help your focal clients, like food and beverage?
Absolutely, there is no industry that I am not interested in. Food is synonymous with Premae, so it will be the next industry that I approach once I’ve completed my brand vision for Premae Cosmetics.
Do you have products for children?
Children can use the Pharma100 range, which is for ultra-sensitive skin.
Considering your busy schedule, how do you balance being CEO with leading a normal life? Any hobbies?
Sure – me and my husband go to the gym, we travel, read books and watch lots of films. The first couple of years it was all work, work, work but it’s important to enjoy your life whilst reaching for your goals.
You listed Nigeria as one of the countries where you have partners, could you list some of them so people can get your products easily?
Yes, we have partners in Ikorodu Lagos, Yenagoa Bayelsa, Lekki, Victoria Island. Email us on email@example.com so we can forward you to the right agent.
As a woman and someone who rose from a disadvantaged position to where you are today, what would you say to women who feel ‘stuck’ in life and young people who think they need to be from wealthy homes to succeed?
Everything in life is energy. If you want to be successful, you have to match success. What do I mean by that? If you dwell on negativity, you become poor and lack results. If you focus all of your mind on success, happy memories and good thoughts of the future, you become a success. Despite living in a foster home, I am a self-made entrepreneur with a business that can make millions. It is this focused mindset of only thinking of my goals and how they can help to change the world that has got me this far. Every prayer is a request. God hears your fears and your faith and responds to both impartially. Make sure your faith is stronger than your fear. Leave fear behind and trust in God to take care of the rest.