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Metrowoman Entrepreneur Week: Chinenye Umeike


Chinenye Umeike is the CEO of Kilienma

Chinenye Umeike is the CEO of Kilienma, a company that manufactures makeup using mainly natural ingredients. A woman in her 40s embarking on a new adventure, she has always loved makeup and this seemed like the right transition to make after quitting paid employment in 2015.

What problem does your company solve?
We aim to provide our customers with makeup using mainly natural ingredients. The idea is to provide healthier alternatives and to educate our customers on how important it is to know what their makeup contains. We do not aim to knock chemicals (we do see a lot of brands touting chemical-free), as there are good synthetics and bad ones. Technically air and water are chemicals, hence it is important to be educated enough to discern between what is good and bad.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
After spending 16 years in paid employment, it was time to make the shift. A discussion with my sister, who is a chemist and my partner in this business, gave birth to this idea. Reaching my 40s also came with some interesting physical changes, so I started paying closer attention to what I use and apply on my skin.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Patience, commitment and the willingness to learn are really important.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Can I really list them? Making the products is like baking. A slight mistake in the formula and your entire product is ruined! The truth is I’m still making mistakes (and “failing” in some aspects), but they then provide a basis for learning.

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I haven’t given up on any ideas I’ve had so far. The fact is that if I experiment and it fails, I try to figure out what went wrong and try again. I’ll keep trying till I get it right. Patience is vital.

How many hours do you work a day on average?
Six to nine hours.

What motivates you?
I love what I do. Not only am I learning something so new, I’m actually doing it.

How do you generate new ideas?
A lot of research.

How far are you willing to go to succeed?
As long as what I do is based on the principles I hold dear, I will be fine.

What is your greatest challenge, and how do you manage it?
Access to the ingredients I need. I’m heavily dependent on imports. I have no option but to bring them in for now.

What are your ideals?
Fairness and Transparency.

What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A combination of stubbornness, determination and patience.

Where did your organisation’s capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
So far, my partner and I have funded this business ourselves. My contribution came from what I had stockpiled during paid employment.

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
This business is mine. Anything less than 150 per cent means failure and that isn’t an idea I’m entertaining.

In one word, characterise your life as an entrepreneur.

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Chinenye UmeikeKilienma
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