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Pretty, elegant, chic and intelligent, are perhaps the most appropriate words to describe Marita Tola Abdul, the look-alike daughter of the charming founder and CEO of Quincy Herbal Slimmers, Quincy Ayodele. This simple, yet gorgeous looking mother of two adorable kids is married to Oil and Gas big boy, Adekunle Abdul. Having been raised in the United States where she studied and earned herself a Doctorate in Law, she returned to the country and became the Executive Director of Operations of Quincy Herbal Slimmers, after garnering working experience from a couple of establishments where she worked briefly.
Today, along with her elder sister, Tobi Ayodele Keeney, they have both taken the Quincy brand to a whole new level, breaking into the global market and reaching out to African- Americans, white Americans, Spaniards, and others who are starting to appreciate more the effectiveness of natural remedies.
A few weeks ago, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL and Head of Photography, FEMI ADELEKE, were guests of this warm and enterprising herbal expert and business woman at her Opebi office in Ikeja, Lagos for an interview during which she told us how her journey into the herbal world started. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How would you say you and your sister have been able to transform you mums business and take it to the next level, considering the fact you’re both young?
I think we made a really good duo, my sister and I. She is the MD of the company, and she’s a very creative individual. She also has a science medical background and she’s very creative in terms of the product line. I think when we came in, we really wanted to carry the vision and the business into the 22nd century. We’re both global citizens, we were raised in the U.S. and traveled all over the world and so we just had to hit the ground running immediately.
We’re not limiting this, this is a great idea. We watch the news, we see how the world is kind of moving back into natural remedies and so, our main goal and mission was to take it out of Nigeria and into the international market that we’re very familiar with. We started by opening a company in the U.S. and opening a U.S. branch. We also utilize the internet. Everybody’s online, no one wants to even see anybody face to face anymore, and so we have to carry the business into that technologically driven world. So, facebook, internet, all social media platforms, that’s how we got into putting our products on Amazon and also having an online store for U.S. and Nigeria. That really opened up our world.
We started seeing our products being mentioned by African Americans, black people, Spanish people, white people, and we now saw the acceptability which is what we knew was going to happen, but to have it confirmed kind of gives you that encouragement. And we just kept going.
We really sat down and used my sister’s medical background and Chemistry background as well to design our products to meet the world’s standard. We designed new product lines and then exported our products, not just to the U.S, but even beyond. Recently, we were the only Nigerian brand to be featured in the Oscars and the Grammies. We’ve also done a commercial for one of our products using an American celebrity, it’s shown all over the major networks in the U.S. and the truth is we’re just starting.
We just got approved to be on Amazon Global, meaning that our products will now be all over the world, not just in the U.S. Yes, I think we’re just starting but I believe we’re on the right path. Why not? Why not take over the world? That, I think, is the mentality we youths have, especially as we have access to the internet. Nothing is restricting us from sending an email to this person in the Philippines saying let’s talk, let’s have a conversation, let’s see what we can do together.
I think my sister and I both have that kind of mentality, so, why not? Why not the world? We are taking our Nigerian brand products to the world and that’s our focus, that’s what we’re sticking to. And the response, so far, has been simply amazing.
At the time you settled in fully into the business, what were the challenges, or the things you looked at and knew you had to address immediately for you to hit the ground running?
I think every business person’s challenge is funding obviously. Another one was the need to orientate the Nigerian market to understand what we’re about and showing the changes that we made to the brand over the years because we have quite a following already. We had to start keeping everybody updated on what we’ve been doing and what we plan on doing and carrying along not only our existing client base, but expanding ourselves to people in the internet world and letting them know we’re out there.
So, I would say, getting awareness, advertising and funding for what we wanted to abroad were some of our major challenges. And of course, putting structure in place. In any business, you must have the right structure. I’ve learnt so much about that so I always advise people who are starting off a new business to really take the time to put the structure so that you can kind of eventually put everything on auto run and then move on to the next arm of the business.
How quickly did people who had been used to dealing with mum all these years come to accept you and your sister?
Okay, I think, first and foremost, its knowledge. You must have knowledge of what you’re doing and I thank my mum once again for really hounding us all those years. At one point, we were very American. I’ve been in America since I was ten years old, and was always asking, oh, my gosh, mum, what is this? And she’d try to explain that its herbs. But you know, there’s just something about growing up into something, growing up into yourself. And so, over the years I’ve had the knowledge of the herbs pumped into me.
When I talk to older clients who are perhaps used to my mum, they’re like what is going on? But once they know that I have the same knowledge as my mum, and I’m learning Yoruba so much now, which makes people a lot more comfortable with you. You must be able to talk to your client in however way you have to reach them as long as the message is being passed across. But you must have that knowledge, nobody can take that away from you.
So, I think from the knowledge aspect, we’re able to get people to accept us better because, not only do we take what our mum knew, we’re also constantly learning. We’re constantly reading, we’re constantly learning on the new trends in our industry, we’re trying to stay on top of the market. I think that’s something that definitely helped.
What would you possibly be doing if you weren’t doing this?
That’s a good question. I think I would still have been doing business. We were raised in such a business background that we became equipped to be able to do a variety of different things. I can’t say this is my dream career or whatever, I think we like to take an idea and kind of transform it into fruition and go with it and put structure into place and make it successful. I can’t really say what is a dream job as much as we just really like doing business. And I don’t mean the money part of it, I mean we’re just really creative people that like to take an idea and start running with it.
In another two, three years from now, what are you looking at, moving beyond what you’ve taken the business to?
Like I said, we’re always inventing. We’re very creative people. In Nigeria, we’re expanding out to natural foods arm of things. As part of our services which is weight loss, skin care, counseling, etc, we’ve come to know that people want to know the healthy alternatives to what we’re telling them not to eat.
So, we came up with a couple of food options that are healthier options, one of them is our trade mark, Acha fufu and for skin care, we have a very nice Shear butter that treats all the skin conditions. That’s kind of our focus for the Nigerian market. But beyond that, we hope to export very soon our products. Once again, we’re always thinking in the international level and so we’re planning to export our locally produced products to the international world. We really want to make impact, we want to make our own little, tiny footprints in our country. And I think one of the best ways to do that is to export. It helps the local economy and helps the international economy as well. So, that’s our goal in the next couple of years.