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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

I dress well to match my mom’s image - Herbal slimming expert Quincy Ayodele’s daughter


Tobi Ayodele-Keeney
After bagging a Master’s degree at the University of Baltimore in USA, Tobi Ayodele-Keeney, the first daughter of top socialite and international herbal slimming expert, Quincy Ayodele, returned home to a family business which was already thriving. With no immediate definite role to play, she wormed her way into her mother’s heart, with innovations that improved the fortune of the business in Nigeria and at the global level. 

Not too long, Tobi’s revolutionary management was enough to convince her
entire family that she needed to be in the organisation’s driver’s seat. Added to this, within the short period, she respectably married her American heartthrob, gave birth to two children as she shuttled between  America and Nigeria. 

That today, she has emerged the Managing Director of Quincy Herbal Slimmers Global, is no easy feat. She shares her story in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.


Tobi Ayodele-Keeney

You have lived and studied abroad, what prompted you to return home to join the family business?

After school, work and having my first child in America, I moved back fully to Nigeria. It didn’t make sense for me to be working for somebody else when we have a family business which from inception, we have been part and parcel of. I joined fully in 2010. My mother had been doing the management all that while, alone. She had been working in the same way, and in a certain way. However, it was also good to bring in new blood to improve on what she was already doing. So I joined, and so did my other siblings in order to make it better as we move in.
 
Tobi

What immediate difference did that make?

We first of all re-designed the logo and incorporated the internet and the social media. The social media we all know was not really an issue 15 years ago. I was rounding off at the university when Facebook came up and all the others. So we started incorporating that to get the attention of the new generation on the internet. We also had to re-package the products. The good thing about the products was that it was very effective. So I didn’t need to change anything about the products and services because, she already had the formula which was working. 

But we improved on it. Our concentration at that point was to seek for international acceptance. To do that, we had to raise our standard to the international one. I felt that for instance, if someone in the US gets to see our products, they ought to be accepted. I lived there, so to a great extent, I knew what the Americans would love to buy. So also to a great extent, I knew what the Chinese, the British and others would want.

You have lived and studied abroad, what prompted you to return home to join the family business?

After school, work and having my first child in America, I moved back fully to Nigeria. It didn’t make sense for me to be working for somebody else when we have a family business which from inception, we have been part and parcel of. I joined fully in 2010. My mother had been doing the management all that while, alone. She had been working in the same way, and in a certain way. However, it was also good to bring in new blood to improve on what she was already doing. So I joined, and so did my other siblings in order to make it better as we move in.


How do you cope with family pressure?

I have a supportive family. I have people that help me to be a good mother. Although it’s not all that easy now, because the children are still young and we do not like leaving the children with house-helps. So within the family, we delegate home duties and make sure the house is running smoothly and my husband too is carried along.
 
Quincy Ayodele, Tobi's mom and Founder of the business
You are looking slim, fresh and your skin well taken care of, how do you do it?

I don't have a choice. I have to look good and allow my skin to be radiant. I actually blew up after child birth. Nobody in my family was born slim. If you see anybody that is slim in our family, the person actually has done something to maintain that slim fitness. Usually people say that after childbirth, one is expected to be big and perhaps after turning 50, then slimness can come back. No, I can’t afford to wait that long to regain slimness. My mom is a herbal slimmer and I am the daughter of a herbal slimmer. So, I can't but be slim. I use our products like the ‘slimming garri’ and also keep to our recommended herbal slimming diet.

Are you as fashionable and stylish as your mother? 

(Laughs) I am not at all. When you see me dress up very finely, wear high heels and make up, it is because of her. I have to keep up with the image. But my style is very casual. I don't like to wear high heels. Though I know I have to look good but I don't wear stiletto heels. I am a believer in modern dressing. I didn't grow up wearing dresses that expose the body. For instance, you can never see my mom in such dresses too. So, I don't wear them. We believe in dressing nicely and very modest.


With branches home and abroad, young children and a husband, how do you cope?

(Laughs) I shuttle between Abuja, Ikoyi, Lekki and Opebi where we have offices and I also do the ones abroad. But so does my mom and my sister. We share the responsibilities. We have put a good system in place to ensure checks and balances, which is what puts the staff together.


What appeals to you?

Quincy Ayodele with grandchild
I am a born again Christian, my life revolves around Christ, my husband’s name is Keeney, he is an American, also a born again Christian. My parents and family members are all born again Christians. But that does not mean that I am usually dressed the ‘SU’ fashion or carry Bible on my head (laughs). I listen to Christian songs, I read the newspapers, watch less of television; I love food, healthy food. I cook: healthy creative recipes. I have a sweet tooth and I enjoy good food. I love food, but how do I eat and still maintain in good shape? That is why I focus on healthy living.
Are you thinking of handing over too to another generation at some point like your mom has done to you?

That is certain. But right now I have sons and no daughters yet. Our children are already in the business. They know what we are doing, they come along to see us packing herbs and re-packaging them. We are therefore hoping that they get more involved in the future so that we can pass the generational knowledge to them, just like my siblings and I have received them from our mom and forebears.


At a point, people said your mom was bleaching, but she refuted such claim, so how do you think she has been able to maintain such a lightened skin?

My mom has always been preaching against bleaching. She has been in the forefront of that campaign for years now. Personally, I do not like people who bleach their skin, or add chemicals on the skin. That we are light-skinned in the family means that we have been maintaining our skin naturally without the use of bleaching creams or other forms of chemicals. We have not given way to dark knuckles and blemishes. We have been using herbal medicine to achieve this.

That has also been the undertone of my mom’s campaign over the years. When she started preaching against the use of hydroquinone in the Nigerian market years back, she knew what she was saying because there are herbal medicines that can give better, natural effects than hydroquinone. She then made public her secret remedy and discovery. 

Yes, we were born light skin, but you cannot say that because you were born light skin so you won’t maintain your skin, which is generally exposed to the harsh sun in Nigeria. And one has to do something about the skin, so that one can age well and slowly too. So my mom uses natural medicine so as not to damage my skin. There are many skin lightening creams in the market, if they are chemicals, it will certainly lead to skin rashes, dark spots and even stretch marks on the body. Sometimes my mom even uses clay on her skin and we have products to solve skin problems. It’s not everything that we ask for payment. We give free advice too.

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