Challenge and adversity are meant to help you know who are, storms hit your weakness, but unlock your true strength. CEO of Lulu foods Mrs Teniola Kafeelah Awaiye during the covid-19 pandemic turned her hobby into a business venture.
Teniola who is passionate about adding value to people, created job opportunities for unemployed youths in Lagos. The brave and smart entrepreneur during an interview with Zivang online team talked intelligently about her passion, motivation, challenges and next future projects.
Brief introduction about yourself?
Teniola is an Electrical Engineer by profession. I bagged my HND from the prestigious Yaba College of Technology and proceeded to the Bells University of Technology, Otta. I am the CEO of Lulu foods, founded in July 2020. The company specializes in roasting of Guinea Fowl, Turkey, Chicken and gizzard.
While I could be shy, I am very passionate about adding value to people, I am a people person, I love cooking good food.
What motivated you to go into this business?
At the height of the COVID-19 Lockdown, identifying some opportunities, I decided to follow my passion and I see what has been a hobby to me as something I could turn to business and to fill a gap.
Further, like I mentioned, I’m very passionate about people, it was an opportunity to also get people engaged, recall during the pandemic, jobs were lost, pay were reduced for some and so on. Together with two very competent hands, we birthed lulufoods2020 and gradually we have been building our client base and inspire people around us to believe in themselves and do something.
Can you share your business journey?
It would interest you to know this wasn’t the first business I ventured into. I trained and gained competence in some aspect of beauty; micro blading and micro-shading to be precise. It’s a very lucrative business but it wasn’t a hobby, the passion wasn’t love at first sight. I had to search within to find what would bring me so much satisfaction. I know I love to feed people, I love cooking and getting compliments for how nice the meal tasted. So what we did was to find an aspect of catering that wasn’t so saturated. After several deliberations, we finally settled for roasted birds. Roasted Guinea Fowl, Chicken and Turkey. We started out by getting ourselves trained, working on a recipe, branding and marketing. It’s been exciting as well as insightful.
How is it to run a 9 – 5 business in Lagos?
Running a business like ours Lagos depends heavily on the dispatch network and it is exhausting! Running a successful business in Lagos teaches you patience, tenacity and endurance on a whole new level. You meet and work with so many different kind of people and you have to learn quickly how to respond to unplanned events. It helps you to grow in every aspect, faster than you probably intended to.
What is the selling point of Guinea Fowl in this competitive market?
Quality, taste and branding. Quality starts from the selection of Guinea Fowl (size matters) all the way to the preparation and packaging. We continually improve on the quality of our products. Taste is the center of it all. We are a listening company and so we try to improve our recipes to suit the taste of our customers. We also attend to specific requests from our customers. Lastly, branding, this is very important, it’s probably why we are here for this interview. A poorly branded company will become invisible, we know this and so we work hard at giving our company a good representation on all platforms.
How have you been able to manage working full time and managing a business?
Proper time management and task prioritization is key here. I had to learn quickly how to manage my time without falling short of expectations at work and at the same time meeting the demands of my business. Initially, it was ok to do several things at a time but as the business grew, I had to learn to outsource and trust people to handle tasks for the company. So far, we have been able to get by without any fallouts.
From research, your social marketing and branding is attractive. Do you want have a team dedicated to managing the branding aspect of your brand?
Well, it’s both ways. I have a very unique connection with my customers and followers. Yes, we outsourced some aspect of the branding, more like I work very closely with the team that handles it.
Challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur?
An interesting one would be customer relationship for me, with the internet/social media, you get the good, the bad and the ugly. Since there isn’t face to face contact, some care less about their utterances and how hurtful it could be. Some customers would even threaten you because a dispatch rider is running late, no empathy from some of them. Imagining getting a delivery made at all cost and the customer returns it because it was late! Their words could sometimes want to make you quit, believe me! It’s really hard to ignore because the sole purpose of your business is to meet their needs and so it’s heartbreaking when they come back dissatisfied.
We are continually getting better, one word for those customers that thought we fell short would be to give us another try. Don’t give up on us, we truly need your patronage to survive the already existing harsh conditions. To those customers who have been supportive and patronizing us from different parts of Nigeria, United Kingdom, South Africa, we say thank you, e seunpupopupo, nagode, daalu!
Lessons you learnt from this?
Customers are always right! This might sound like a generic answer but practicing it is hard especially when the customer is a little out of line. Patience is very vital, treating customers kindly even after they talked down at you sometimes make them loyal returning customers for a long time. I learnt to deal with my customers better and professionally.
What keeps your going no matter the circumstances you find yourself?
My two beautiful daughters. I have to get up for them. I need to be the imperfect but worthy role model. There is no choice of giving up, they need me and that brings me fulfilment.
As a young CEO, how do you relax yourself?
I love travelling and I love nature so I visit the beach a lot. I enjoy hanging out with family and friends as well.
Where do you see Lulufoods2020 in the next decade?
I see the company growing to become a household name. I see our brand in every notable store in Nigeria and I see the brand motivating young girls to believe in themselves.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the food catering business?
Get up and show up. Giving up is not an option. Get the necessary training that will support your brand (especially applicable laws and regulations). Know your onions. Be accountable and responsible.
To place your orders from within and outside Nigeria, call this number 07019140990, 09026413568. Follow latest updates and discounts follow @lulufoods on instagram