Maryam Ali Adamu is the chief executive officer of Aljism Skincare Products, a 100 per cent organic skincare products company that targets major skin issues almost everyone suffers from one way or the other. In this interview with Stellamaries Amuwa, she says her skincare products targets clients of all races, gender and ages, ranging from acne, spots, stretchmarks, postpartum pigmentations, discolorations, sunburn etc.
Why organic skincare products?
When I was growing up, I had very bad acne, spots and hyperpigmentation. I visited various dermatologists in the United Kingdom as well as the United States to no avail. Hence, after my studies in the UK, I decided to spend additional years in the UK to study skincare therapy and find a solution for my own skin issues. After I was able to achieve a flawless skin, I was then advised and encouraged by my friends and family who knew how horrible my skin used to be, to use my knowledge to start my own skincare range.
Where do you hope to see yourself in a few years from now?
In a few years, well, only God knows where I will be as I didn’t bring myself to where I am today. However, I would love to own branches of Aljism spas all over the states in Nigeria and elsewhere abroad so that I can be accessed easily. I would also wish to start an NGO where most of the proceeds I make from Aljism skincare products go into the Girl Child Education.
Where do you source your raw materials from?
I source my raw materials from different parts of the world and around Nigeria. Some from Singapore, Korea, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Ka’oje (Kebbi state) and Yobe state. This has also not been easy as I do not compromise on quality. For example, I never incorporate a substandard ingredient for any reason whatsoever. These can be challenging atimes, owing to exchange rates, delivery, availability and custom delays.
What has been the challenge in moving up your business so far?
Well, I would say it is really difficult to get the best people to help me out with regards to consultations, recommendations and keeping in touch with clients, until they have achieved their results. I have thousands of clients. While it is almost impossible for me to teach my staff everything about the skin, client demands and everything in between, as well as supervised production, marketing, advertising, dispatch and deliveries, etc. I have to also supervise all these things adamantly to ensure that my clients are constantly getting the best. It is hard for me to hand over any aspect of my business completely to another person because great passion, knowledge, understanding and patience are synonymously required to cater for another person’s skin.
How do you balance work and family?
Honestly, at first, it was not easy. But Alhamdulillah I am blessed with an amazing and understanding husband. I have soon learnt to balance work and family by creating very strict working hours. No matter how tempting it gets, I try as much as possible to not answer any business calls during family hours.
What has been your fondest childhood memory?
We took a trip around the world in the summer of 2001. We traveled to various countries and cities with my parents and siblings. Starting from London in England, to Madrid and Toledo in Spain, where I got to get on a teleferico for the first time. We later flew to Rome in Italy and got to visit the cathedral and the Vatican museum, then to Florence, where got to witness the Santa Maria del Fiore which took over centuries to complete. Then to Italian city of Venice which is a Landmark Marvel where canals are used, instead of roads. The entire City is made of over a hundred little islands in a lagoon. We later flew to Milan, one of the most notable fashion and design Hot-spots of the world. After that, we later flew to Paris, drove down to Disney land, lodged at the Disney Land ‘Hotel Cheyenne’, and had the time of our lives. This was succeeded with another trip back to the center of Paris, where we sported a lot of shopping and sight-seeing. We eventually embarked on a journey back to England via a Euro star train, stopping by Belgium and Holland for more sight seeing, shopping and entertainment. It was an amazing time, as I got to have a quality fun experience with my family, without the distractions of trying to be an adult.
What makes you happy and sweeps you off your feet?
Children, lttle tiny kids. They are so innocent and I don’t think I can even remember myself ever being upset towards a child younger than 5. They are so cute, innocent and adorable. To me, they do no wrong and whatever mood I am in, a little child’s smile fixes me up in an instance. God Bless them.
Who is your role model?
My role model is Adesua Etomi Wellington. She is an intelligent Entrepreneur, actress, producer, trend setter and a wife, who also graduated with a first class. She is also the first Nigerian to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. Additionally, she is young, principled, with numerous awards and nominations. She wasted no time at all juggling all of these (The moving parts of her career), shortly after her wedding. She is also a strong, outspoken and loyal woman, who stood and still stands beside her husband, as he goes and grows through his political career. Who wouldn’t look up to a young woman who has achieved so much and still manages to maintain a healthy private family life?
What does fashion and style mean to you?
You can tell a lot about a person’s personality from their sense of fashion and style. You are able to differentiate the shy from the arrogant, the free spirited from the trend follower. Fashion and style can also tell you much about a person’s culture, religion, origin and morals.
How do you cope with multiple challenges in the business, knowing you have competitors?
Honestly, I believe I am my greatest competition. I thrive to be better than I was five minutes ago. I literally improve my products with every batch produced. It is either you have a great skincare products range and have returning clients and also you receive more positive feedbacks than negative, or not. If 80 percent to 85 percent of my clients are happy, then I know I am on the right track. Nobody is doing what I am doing, my passion, my ingredients, my customer service, my knowledge, these are all blessings I can proudly call “my own”. So I cannot compete with anyone that isn’t me. I can only compete with The Pursuit of Happiness, alongside the inevitable manifestation of greatness.
What keeps your business above your contemporaries?
Customer service, as I always says, customer service is everything. I attend to my clients with more attentiveness after they have already purchased my products, compared to before they do. I have to make sure they apply them correctly and the desired effects have been achieved. I treat each customer like a friend whether you are only always making enquiries without purchasing or a loyal returning client. They are both equally important to me and treated with high regards. My denominations are predominantly Marketing, advertisement and maintaining quality always. Irrespective of fluctuations in prices of raw materials, I never compromise on quality.
As a northerner, do you think northern women are where they ought to be today in business, politics and more?
In business, I believe northern women are thriving well and really coming up. A lot of my female clients buy my products from the proceeds they make from their own businesses or work. Northern women are not exactly where they should be in business yet, but I am rest assured they have left the dogmatic believe of women simply serving as baby making machines and waiting for men to provide for them. They are more pragmatic now. With regards to politics however, I believe northern women still have a long way to go. We are still in a society where the men hold the majority of the political positions and a woman is still viewed as simply a mother and a wife, sadly. But I believe in our forthcoming generation. Fathers and mothers are learning to teach their female children their worth and what they are capable of beyond domestic chaos.
Tell us a little about your family and where you come from.
Well, I come from a family of 8. My father, Dr Ali Adamu PHD Stanford, is from Yobe State. He is a graduate of political History from Standford University, California. While my mother, Hajiya Aishatu Adamu hails from Birnin Kebbi of Kebbi state. She is a graduate of public health from The University of San Jose. I have two sisters and three brothers (one is late) all intellectually rich and thriving really well in their various disciplines. Education is a major pillar in my family. Most importantly, my husband, Yusuf Gidado Idris, who hails from Zaria, Kaduna state, is a successful real estate enthusiast and a well-established Supporter of pro-agricultural initiatives.
I believe I have the most supportive, understanding, hardworking, loving and fun loving family anyone could wish for.
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