Uzongozi Adefisayo is a legal practitioner from Onicha-Olona, Delta State, who has made significant impact in the lives of over 150 individuals in the perfume oil industry.
She has always loved to smell good for less and that led her to discover designer perfume oils, which she started applying even long before the business idea came.
It all started in 2018, when she needed to raise some money urgently for her mum, and being short on cash, she decided to carry her own personal stash of perfume oils (12pcs of 3ml) to work to sell since her colleagues had always complimented how good she smelt and often asked how she was able to afford such amazing scents. She was able to raise the money she needed and even more that day and that was when the D’ParfumGirl was born.
Uzo’s journey into the perfume oil industry has been filled with many twists and turns, especially because she never thought she would succeed as an entrepreneur, having failed at it before but due to her passion and love for smelling good and having people smell good, she eventually went fully into the perfume oil industry and established D’ParfumGirl.
In this interview with Oyinlola Sale, Uzongozi J. Keshi-Adefisayo tells us how, as a legal practitioner, she ventured into perfume oil business.
Your entrepreneurial journey is very interesting, did you ever think you would thread on this path after you became a lawyer?
Honestly, I never thought I would be able to sell anything, not to talk of running a full business online. When I was in the university, my mum got some shoes and clothes for me to sell and I ended up wearing most of them and giving out the rest because I couldn’t sell them as I was shy, and even the ones who managed to buy never paid me, but I guess my journey into the entrepreneurial world was made easy because of two major factors.
The first being that ever since I can remember, I have always loved good scents, both for body and environment, but everyone knows that getting good and lasting fragrances does not come cheap not to talk of designer types plus I have a very sensitive nose so the option of “aboki perfumes” was totally out of the question and so even though growing up I didn’t have the money to buy the really expensive perfumes, but I always made sure I got the best of what I could afford at any given time.
I remember back in secondary school when I saved up and finally bought myself the coveted Tony Montana roll on perfume, I was so proud and felt like a mystery ninja anytime I wore it because it smelled just as amazing as the powder but lasted very well and people complimented me and thought I carried the powder around.
This was why when I was introduced to perfume oils and not just any type but designer perfume oil type that smelled exactly like the bottled fragrances and performed even better, I couldn’t believe my luck.
Secondly, I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur rather, I am simply doing what I love and making a living out of it plus being actively in the legal space and a business owner has enabled me to avoid certain pitfalls that may otherwise have discouraged me.
I also run the business with my two sisters (Chioma & Ifeanyi Keshi). In fact, it was Chioma who came up with our business name (the perfume girl) and Ifeanyi who suggested it to be French (la fille au parfum, you know since Paris is the hub of a lot of things particularly fragrances) but we opted to just making only ‘Perfume’ French and I opted for the spelling to be the way it is now for that definitive distinction. Hence our unique name D’ParfumGirl. So, running the business with my sisters with each of us infusing our various professional knowledge into it, has led us to where we are now.
How has your Company, D’ParfumGirl become a game changer in the perfume oil industry in Nigeria?
D’ParfumGirl is a game changer because one of my core aims is to ensure that everyone smells amazingly good and we do this by offering our clients 100% undiluted and of top-quality perfume oils at affordable rates. I always say that the difference in our oils is also clear and most importantly the quality and uniqueness of the services we offer alongside. So apart from the guarantee of getting the best, long-lasting oils in the market, we also offer fragrance consultations and best part of all is that it is free.
All you have to do is take our fragrance quiz which is available on our website you get three personalised fragrance recommendations that you’ll love. If a client wants a more personalised consultation session, we charge a token for this service which is overall deducted from the total cost of your purchase.
This has uniquely set us apart in the perfume oil industry and our clientele keeps growing because of the trust and special feeling that comes with shopping from us. We also advocate strongly on using our unique oils as gift items as you never forget the person who makes you smell amazing, just like I am sure you won’t be forgetting us in a hurry.
Perfume oil has become the latest trend, how did this happen overnight?
Well, the truth is that perfume oils have been around for a long time, I mean I started using perfume oils two years before we began business in 2018, it was just heavily guarded but thanks to social media and the need to create avenues for multiple streams of income, it has now become the “IT” thing.
However, the main reason why perfume oils have become such a huge hit is because of the fact that compared to the bottled fragrances, it gives so much more value for way less cost and people tend to choose the option that favours the pocket most. The thing is that in order to get that more I am speaking about; you must take care to go for the undiluted top-grade quality.
Now, tell us how to set up a profitable perfume oil business?
Setting up a profitable perfume oil business begins with three easy steps. Step one: have a sizeable amount to purchase, step two: source for a credible supplier of oils, bottles, labels and all the other materials required, step three: tell people about the oils.
However, as easy as these steps are, meeting and making them are all together a different matter. Not everyone, particularly with the way the economy is now, has a sizeable amount just lying around and even if you did, getting a credible source of supply is not a walk in the park.
Which is why we have very affordable wholesale deals that have been designed to give our wholesalers maximum profits without the hassle of sourcing, packing and best part is that they have access to our top-quality oils and won’t have to go through the trial-and-error phase which many businesses that start from ground up pass through, because they don’t have anyone to guide and point them in the right direction.
I remember one time, I got an incorrect batch of one of our bestselling fragrances (baccarat rouge type) and I did not realise this, not until my client who had been waiting for it complained.
I immediately arranged for the correct scent and replaced the one she had got but the damage had already been done. I ended losing money because this was peak season (December) which made things more costly and my client, till date did not return even after repeated follow ups.
So, starting with us definitely helps you avoid this. I am happy to say that last year 2020 we helped over 20 newbies in different parts of the country start off their perfume oil businesses. They are all standing out in their various locations now.
Take us through the economic impact of the perfume oil industry in Nigeria?
Just like every other business in Nigeria irrespective of the industry, the impact of Covid, most especially, has been negatively huge and the instability and consistent hike in the cost of dollar has not helped at all as this is what we majorly trade in.
So basically, a lot of businesses have been forced to scale down and turn to complementary products to stay in the business, while some have outrightly dropped out because it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to bring in the perfume oils due to the almost 100% hike in cost and still maintain their selling prices.
What are some of the challenges you have faced so far in building D’ParfumGirl?
Well, I’ll say the challenges every business in Nigeria, most especially, is facing, which includes the constant hike and instability in the foreign exchange rate but the challenges we’ve faced specifically since we’ve been in business is having our brand known which is normal in such a saturated market such as ours. Another challenge is shortage of funds for capital expenditures especially when we first started. I believe that once we attain a certain of visibility, many things will fall into place.
Now with the present state of the Nigerian economy, how have you managed to strike a balance with the price of other perfume oils in the market?
We have managed to not only stay in business but to maintain our costs and quality while only minimally reflecting the hike in our costs is largely owed to the trust our clients have in us and the quality of our products and we are grateful for this.
Last , while most businesses were recording a nosedive in their profits, we recorded a 10 – 15% increase in ours and looking at the way last year was and the fact that our business is not only small but an online business, I’ll say that was a major win for us. So, we owe it all to God first and our clients.
Are some of the perfumes you sell made in Nigeria, do we have hope in the made in Nigeria brands?
Sadly no, but that is because we don’t sell bottled perfumes but perfume oils and the factories that produce these oils aren’t domiciled in Nigeria and because we are major wholesalers and retailers, we’ve partnered with them to get our supply directly from the factory at best rates.
What were some of your fears when setting up D’ParfumGirl and how did you gradually overcome your fears?
I had a lot of fears but the scariest one was the imposter syndrome of who will buy from me, how would I manage to sell? This is the same me who failed woefully at my first attempt at retail selling.
I mean it was different selling my 12pcs of 3ml from my personal stash to my colleagues using the back story of the urgent need to raise money for my mum but to just start selling, who would listen when I don’t have any story to tell again? And honestly, I’ll say I still have those fears but in a different way and I overcome them every day by telling myself that I offer great products and even amazing services and people are always willing to pay for value.
I will also say that the support of my family and friends most especially, my sisters have been the anchor and my amazing husband as well, who most times come handy to comfort me when things aren’t going as smoothly as I had hoped, and he just soaks it all up like a sponge and helps me out of it.
Lastly, I will say that another way I overcome my fears is reading and re-reading the reviews we get from our clients. In fact, it’s almost like they know when I’m feeling down and somehow, I’m engaged in a conversation with either a return client or a referral and boom, they say something that instantly encourages me and gets me boosted.
How do you intend to expand D’ParfumGirl in the nearest future?
Our plan for expansion is huge but for now, it includes having more parfum girls and even boys to join our team especially as we grow, as we currently do almost everything in house. We also want to expand our wholesale subscriptions and we plan to open up a distributors’ channel as well.
We also plan to open up a fragrance bar and rather than serve just drinks, we’ll serve perfume oils as well.