Thursday 5 March 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Iman Ogoo - Imanmade

Iman Ogoo is a mother of three from East London and launched Imanmade, a range of gentle natural skincare products in 2012 after successfully creating products at home to care for her family’s eczema and dry, sensitive skin.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
My days are always busy. I work from home so I’m always juggling running Imanmade with mummy duties, household stuff and other family errands. My eldest son (12) is an actor, and has been playing the role of Young Simba in Disney’s the Lion King for over a year now, so I also have to work around his theatre schedule.
On an average day, after the school run I check emails and social media before settling down to paperwork, or if it is a mixing/bottling day I clean the entire work area and sanitise equipment and utensils before the magic happens. My favourite part of my job is creating Imanmade goodies for my customers. It’s very important to me to create my products with positive vibes so I always play music from my favourite artists in the background or inspirational audiobooks/ podcasts. I also love to fill the air with the wonderful aroma of essential oils. On a mix day my workspace smells so heavenly!

I try to stop working after picking up my younger two sons from school so that I can be fully present and engage with them, but sometimes the work just has to get done and I end up multitasking. There are often times when I have to stay up all night to mix, bottle or label products, as I work alone most of the time. If I need an extra hand, my friend Anne comes over to help, and she also assists me with sales at some events. 

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
I initially started making natural skin care products solely for family use at home, as I have a lifelong history of eczema and extremely dry, sensitive skin and my youngest two sons inherited my skin conditions in addition to life-threatening allergies.  
I had absolutely no intention of selling anything, until friends and family noticed our skin improvements and started requesting jars of my concoctions for themselves, while suggesting that I turn my skincare ‘hobby’ into a business. I laughed off the suggestions at first, as I didn’t really see how it could possibly happen.  At the time I was a ‘stay at home mum’, highly stressed out, sleep deprived and having a hard time coping with my youngest son’s severe allergies. There was no worse time to start a business, but I warmed to the idea and started doing research, later seeking business advice from local schemes. I had no savings, and didn’t want to put myself into debt, so I took my time and purchased the things I needed bit by bit; equipment, ingredients, packaging, safety assessments, insurance, etc. Just enough to get me started. 

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I’d say my greatest business accomplishment so far was seeing Imanmade products being sold at the Established East London pop up shop in Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre. Imanmade was such a big hit with Established East customers in summer 2013 that I was called back to supply their 2014 Christmas Store. It really was a confidence booster, and a big opportunity for a small business like Imanmade.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?Actually I’m in quite a challenging position at the moment: Figuring how and when to expand the business. 

What are your future plans for the business?
I’m in the process of reworking my long-term plan and fine-tuning my next steps, but my focus at the moment is launching a few new products for the range and reaching as many people as I can through my website and online store.

I’ll be starting my studies in Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy later this year, so that will open up some opportunities for growth of myself as an individual and Imanmade as a business.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I think I’d take a little more time before launching the business publicly, and I’d
most likely team up with a business partner rather than do it all alone - preferably someone with a passion for doing accounts! 

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
The best compliment I could (and already do) receive is that Imanmade products are helping to improve someone’s daily life.  I know the difficulties and discomfort of dealing with my own skin problems and also the stress of caring for children with severe eczema. So when someone tells me their skin condition has cleared up it really makes my day!

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I do my best to inspire young (and older) women around me to pursue their life passions. Especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Having real role models, and watching them achieve success instils confidence in these young women, encouraging them to make the most of their abilities, and exceed expectations. 
It’s also important that young women understand their own power; the power of their thoughts, words, and beliefs. Knowing they can be everything they want to be, with focused actions and the right mindset. Though there is still a certain level of inequality in the workplace, young women are now in a position to create opportunities where they see none. Modern technology and social media especially play a huge role in this development.

Just over a year ago, I took on two female college interns from Paris for a six-week period to support their Business Management studies. Though there was a slight language barrier, I was able to guide them to learn new skills and explore first hand how to run a small business. Their internship at Imanmade made a big impact on their grades and the experience really boosted their confidence. One of the interns has now gained full time employment in Paris and keeps me up to date with her new career on a regular basis. I in turn continue to support her with motivation and advice via email.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Make sure you are fully aware of the European Cosmetic regulations first and foremost. Many people think its just a case of mixing up some oils, putting them in pretty bottles and selling, but there’s so much more to it. Meticulous record keeping is essential, and there are strict guidelines on both the product formulation and labelling. There is so much that the general public do not see.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
I have various business inspirations. Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter (Skin and hair care) was my main inspiration when starting Imanmade, but most recently, I have been inspired by Myleik Teele of curlBOX (beauty subscription box). Her work ethic is admirable; she motivates you to make that extra effort, to go that extra mile. I love what she is doing with the curlBOX brand, and her podcasts are very useful. She gives great, no-nonsense advice.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

I always like to say:  ‘Trust your instincts’. 
Intuition is everything.

Imanmade is offering readers 15% off (minimum £10 spend) until 06 April 2015 using code 2INS15

Iman Ogoo
Imanmade Natural Skin Care
Twitter/Instagram: @imanmade

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