Mrs Maryam Ali Adamu is the daughter of Dr Ali Adamu, a graduate of Political History from Standford University, California, and Hajiya Aishatu Adamu, a graduate of Public Health from the University of San Jose, USA. She is married to Yusuf Gidado Idris, a real estate enthusiast and supporter of pro-agricultural initiatives. She is one of the few ladies in northern Nigeria who have gone deep in the skincare products business. In this interview, she explained how she started and what is driving her passion.
What inspired you into skincare product business?
When I was growing up I had very bad acne, spots and hyper-pigmentation. I visited various dermatologists in the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, to no avail. After my studies in the UK, I decided to spend additional years to study Skincare Therapy and find a solution for my own skin issues. Thereafter, I was able to achieve a flawless skin and I was advised and encouraged by my friends and family who knew how horrible my skin was, to use my knowledge to start my own skincare range.
So you own an outfit?
I own a 100 per cent organic skincare products company called Aljism Skincare Products, targeting major skin issues almost everyone suffers from in one way or another – acne, spots, stretch marks, postpartum pigmentations, discolorations and sunburn, among others. My skincare products range targets clients of all races, gender and ages. My main business platform is on instagram.
What have been the challenges so far?
Well, I would say it is really difficult to get the best people to help me out with regards to consultations, recommendations and keeping in touch with clients until they have achieved their results.
I have thousands of clients. While it is almost impossible for me to teach my staff everything about the skin, client demands and everything in between, as well as supervised production, marketing, advertising, dispatch and deliveries and many others, I have to also supervise all these things to ensure that my clients are constantly getting the best. It is hard for me to hand over any aspect of my business completely to another person because great passion, knowledge, understanding and patience are synonymously required to cater for another person’s skin.
Where do you source your raw materials from?
I source my raw materials from different parts of the world and around Nigeria. Some are from Singapore, Korea, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Ka’oje in Kebbi State and Yobe State.
This has also not been easy as I do not compromise on quality. For example, I never incorporate a substandard ingredient for any reason whatsoever. These can be challenging at times, owing to exchange rates, delivery, availability and custom delays.
How do you cope with multiple challenges in the business?
Honestly, I believe I am my greatest competitor. I strive to be better than I was five minutes ago. I literally improve my products with every batch produced.
It is either you have a great skincare product range and returning clients, as well as receive more positive feedbacks than negative, or not. If 80 to 85 per cent of my clients are happy, then I know I am on the right track. Nobody is doing what I am doing, my passion, my ingredients, my customer service, my knowledge are all the blessings I can proudly call ‘my own.’
Do you think northern women are where they ought to be today in business?
In business, I believe northern women are thriving well and really coming up. A lot of my female clients buy my products from the proceeds they make from their own businesses or work. Northern women are not exactly where they should be in business yet, but I am rest assured they have left the dogmatic belief of women simply serving as baby making machines and waiting for men to provide for them. They are more pragmatic now.
With regard to politics, however, I believe northern women still have a long way to go. We are still in a society where the men hold the majority of the political positions and a woman is still viewed as simply a mother and wife. It is sad.
Fathers and mothers are learning to teach their female children their worth and what they are capable of, beyond domestic chaos.
Where do you hope to see your business in a few years from now?
In a few years, well, only God knows where I will be. I didn’t bring myself to where I am today. However, I would love to own branches of Aljism spas all over the states and elsewhere abroad, so that I can be accessed easily. I would also wish to start a non-governmental organisation, where most of the proceeds I make from Aljism skincare products go into girl-child education.
How do you balance work and family?
Honestly, at first, it was not easy. But, alhamdulillah, I am blessed with an amazing and understanding husband. I learnt to balance work and family by creating very strict working hours. No matter how tempting it gets, I try as much as possible not to answer any business calls during family hours.
Who is your role model?
My role model is Adesua Etomi Wellington. She is an intelligent entrepreneur, actress, producer, trend setter and wife, who also graduated with a first class. She is also the first Nigerian to grace the cover of the Vogue magazine. Additionally, she is young, principled, with numerous awards and nominations.
What gives you an edge over others in your line of business?
Customer service. As I always say, customer service is everything. I attend to my clients with more attentiveness after they have already purchased my products, compared to before they did. I have to make sure they apply them correctly to achieve the desired effects.
I treat each customer like a friend, whether you are only always making enquiries without purchasing or a loyal returning client. They are equally important to me, so they are treated with high regards.
My denominators are predominantly marketing, advertisement and maintaining quality always. Irrespective of fluctuations in prices of raw materials, I never compromise on quality.
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