We have featured amazing business women on our How I Started My Business series, this week we are happy to have Lola Oj
Lola Oj is a beauty and lifestyle entrepreneur. She founded Blinx Lashes- an international cosmetics brand
The beauty influencer also hosts a hugely popularly youtube channel.
Tell us about your business
Blinx Lashes is a cosmetics brand that speicalises in natural-look faux strip lashes.
From having an idea to starting your business, share your journey with us
The journey has been an interesting one, full of high and low moments, I have learnt a lot over the years and now that I am more experienced, I look forward to the future.
Why do you love what you do? There are so many other businesses you could have explored, why this?
I love what I do because it is sincere passion of mine, I am very enthusiastic about make up, especially lashes. It may have seemed silly to some at one point, but ultimately my obsession with lashes birthed my business. I do plan on setting up other business’s in different industries, but this came first because it made the most sense at the time.
At what point did you know beyond all doubt that this is going to work?
I wasn’t sure how quickly it would all work out, but I knew that I wouldn’t give up until it did. I knew I was going to work extremely hard and pray a lot about it, so deep down I knew it could work out. When the demand for the products kept increasing, I knew that this really could work.
How did you raise the capital to start your business, especially with the high cost of running businesses in Nigeria?
Through personal savings and family.
How soon did you start making profits?
Surprisingly we started making profit sooner than I expected, within the first 6 months.
Brilliant ideas don’t always mean great sales, how has it been marketing your services?
That statement is very correct! We had to get creative with marketing our products as initially we did not have a advertising/marketing budget. Word of mouth, gifting celebrities and social media were our main marketing tools.
As a small business owner you can’t do everything, what has been your experience hiring staff and building your team.
Staff has been one of the most difficult elements of the business. Developing relevant roles needed most in the company, finding competent staff and paying salaries is not an easy task.
Your greatest skill/strength that has particularly been of help in starting and running your business?
Did you have to get a formal training or qualification to be able to do this?
I am self taught but I love attending business seminars and conferences to gain more knowledge, books and the internet have been great resources for learning also.
You have been running your business for some time now, what did you know now that you wished you had known before you started?
I wish I knew more about tax before I started in the UK, I learnt as I went along and found it very difficult if I am honest. Thank goodness for a great accountant and lawyer.
Any life experience that has particularly prepared you directly or indirectly for what you do now?
I think many things in my younger life have prepared me for where I am now even though at the time I did not realise it. My law degree has helped me a lot in how I pass my message across!
Change can bring out a part of us we never knew existed, what new things have you discovered about yourself in the course of starting and running your business
This is very true! Well I never expected to be one of the ‘faces of my brand’; I never imagined that I would be at the forefront of my business. I was interested in creating a successful beauty brand, so never thought my own brand would grow alongside it.
The greatest challenge you have ever had to overcome to get to where you are now?
Rejection, thank God I was already prepared for this so just kept pushing after every ‘no’ I received.
The greatest business advice you have ever received and by who?
By my mother, “write everything down”! Every expense, every figure regarding your company, right it down! Even if you cannot make sense of it, you can hire someone who will come along and make that data make sense. You must capture correct data, it really can save and help you in the long run.
What do you think are the most essential skills for women entrepreneurs especially in Nigeria?