Podcast Transcript – Series TWO, Episode 35

ezinne iroanya-adeoye, sknmuse June 2021


[00:00:00] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:00:00] But I remember my first internship. I was the only one. I was the only black woman. I was the only me.

[00:00:13] So I took a year off. My mom didn’t know, but at the time.

[00:00:18] I got my work permit from the government and I immediately went to Dillard’s to apply, to be at the beauty counter.

[00:00:24] I can speak for black woman. And if anything, beauty is culture for us.

[00:00:28] My grandmother would say Omalicha Nwa,  Omalicha Nwa in my culture means ‘beautiful one’.

[00:00:34] People think I’m a fashionista, but compared to my mom, I’m Plain Jane.

[00:00:37] That whole weekend. For three days, my phone non-stop ding, ding, ding, it was like raining orders.

[00:00:45] called my mom after and I remember her saying, ‘God bless Beyoncé!’

[00:00:51] It’s a space for beauty re-imagined for black women.

[00:00:55] I’m an immigrant, I’m a black woman. The odds are stacked against me.

[00:01:00] [00:00:59] Just bet on yourself. What’s the worst that could happen.

[00:01:02] Stand in your truth. And the world will make one for you.

[00:01:06] Dan: [00:01:06] Hey, what’s up Unfound Nation, Dan Kihanya here. Thanks so much for checking out another episode of Founders unfound.

[00:01:12] That was Ezinne Iroanya,  Founder and CEO of SKNMUSE, the premium beauty brand dedicated to elevating the beauty experience for the modern black woman. Ezinne was born and raised in Nigeria. After graduating from high school at 15, and ACEing her SATs, she came to the U S for college. She thought she was going to be a petroleum engineer, but lucky for the rest of us, that didn’t happen. Ezinne never forgot that joy she found in the soothing remedies, her mom, mom, and grandmother prepared for her dry skin. She’s paying it forward now with her luxurious bombs, oils and body butters for Ezinne, beauty is culture.

[00:01:48] And she’s on a mission to make the beauty counter reflect more inclusively. Ezinne has a great story. You’ll want to listen in.

[00:01:56] Our episode. So to sponsored by AfriBlocks, the global [00:02:00] Pan-African freelance marketplace and collaboration platform, a great resource for devs designers and virtual assistants. Check out the link in the show notes.

[00:02:08] And please make sure to like, and subscribe to the podcast we’re available anywhere you get your podcasts, even YouTube. And if you like what you hear, drop us a five-star review on Apple or podchaser.com. And make sure to tell your friends about it.

[00:02:21] Now on with the episode, stay safe, and hope you enjoy.

[00:02:33] Hello. Hello and welcome to Founders Unfound, and spotlighting the best startups you don’t know yet. We bring you stories of exceptional founders from underrepresented and underestimated backgrounds. This is the latest episode in our continuing series on founders of African descent. I’m your host, Dan Kihanya, let’s get on it.

[00:02:50] Today we have Ezinne Iroanya, Founder and CEO of SKNMUSE, the premium beauty brand dedicated to elevating the beauty experience for the modern [00:03:00] black woman. Welcome to the show Ezinne. And we’re super excited to have you on. Thanks for making this.

[00:03:05] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:03:05] Hi, Dan, thank you so much for having me and you did amazing pronouncing my name.

[00:03:10] So I was wanting, I want to acknowledge that.

[00:03:14] Dan: [00:03:14] Well, I’m very conscious of it. I have African heritage too, and so I try hard. So let’s start off help the listeners understand exactly what is SKNMUSE.

[00:03:22] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:03:22] Thank you, Dan. Just like you had said, skim uses a premium beauty brand dedicated to elevating the beauty experience for black women.

[00:03:30] So we use the cultural practices of women in West Africa to create experiences and formulas of rich textures of creams and oils that give you your highest form of self-care. We intentionally use ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter things that you might not find in the luxury beauty space, but are mainly used by women like myself all the time.

[00:03:55] So when you’re making any formula, we are making a new product. We [00:04:00] think about this woman intentionally, we think about her mannerisms so the way of life, what she would prefer in her products. And we use that information to create our formulation and create our experience. An example is our 16-ounce buddy butter, for instance comes with a golden spoon because black women loved their nails.

[00:04:20] We don’t like to put our nails in products like that, and we get stuck underneath. So they come with this food because we know you need that. Our large candles sizes come with free rematch boxes. Even the bags are reusable. We’re very eco-friendly brand. We use all our packaging. That’s why sometimes you might see brown packaging.

[00:04:38] We might say, well, why one? We don’t throw anything away. We have a refill policy. So when you, if you’re in LA and you, you actually bring you, we have a text line, can you text the number of refill due? And someone is out there. We schedule a time to come and do your refill at your home because it’s part of the whole prestige premium beauty experience.

[00:04:58] If you’re not in LA and you [00:05:00] ship us back five empties, we actually send you a free product. Something that I love the most about the gimmes brand is we actually, currently we don’t talk about this enough, but we need to, but we actually also sponsored therapy sessions for black kids. We do it through a black-owned, private practice.

[00:05:16] She’s a woman in Philly called Dr. . She’s an amazing child psychologist, child therapist. And she prides herself in, other ways of the form of therapy before medication. So for the past year, we’ve been sustained every month. We donate to the fund as a skim use fund that, we sustain. And she uses that to make sure kids have free therapy sessions as they needed, or this kind of therapy sessions, whatever they prefer.

[00:05:42] Dan: [00:05:42] I love it. And yeah, you have like the 20-year journey of a company compressed it to just a couple of years. It’s all these things you’re doing. And we’re going to hear more about that, but let us start first by hearing a little bit more about who you are and where you are.

[00:05:56] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:05:56] So I’m originally born and raised in Nigeria.

[00:05:59] I’m from Nigeria [00:06:00] Legos. Nigeria is where I was raised, but I was born in Delta state and my tribe is Bulu. So I’m, Ibo, I’m Delta Ibo. We have different types of Delta people. My mom worked in aviation, so I got to travel the world a little bit more. I feel I’m a little bit more travel than the average Nigerian.

[00:06:16] I will stay spent times in Europe, spend time in North America, spend some time in Africa, and kind of like bumped for a couple of years before I graduated high school at 15, actually, I was done with high school at 15 people don’t know that.

[00:06:34] Dan: [00:06:34] Oh, my goodness. That was,

[00:06:36] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:06:36] that was in Nigeria. I actually went to half my time at a private Catholic boarding school for three years.

[00:06:43] And after that, I went to a Turkish school after that. So I spent the last three years of my high school experience around the, in, in the Turkish culture and in the Muslim community as well. I was very welcomed there and I’m graduated. I did so well that I was able to graduate high school at 15. [00:07:00] And then after graduating at 15, I actually got accepted into college in America.

[00:07:06] Dan: [00:07:06] I guess graduating at 15, it’s still early in Nigeria, right? Yeah. So, so what, so I guess college felt like the next thing, but like, did you have any sense of maybe I’m young or maybe I wanna do something else first? Or like how did college in America sort of leap to the priority list of what you wanted to do?

[00:07:23] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:07:23] If you speak to like the Nigerian community first, for instance, it’s like for us Grammys equate to degrees. So as many degrees as you didn’t get it on many Grammys you have gotten basically. So it wasn’t even a thought to me back then. It wasn’t even thought of like, oh, what else could I do? It was more, this is the truck I’m supposed to go on.

[00:07:47] And this is what’s next. II’m fortunate enough to be done early. So just the next stage in my life, I didn’t give it a thought. Honestly, it was just like, what else? Why not? And I think I only took three months off and I just went [00:08:00] straight in. I got, I mean, if I got into college, I got accepted. Three different colleges.

[00:08:06] Dan: [00:08:06] You had been to America through the travels with your mom. So you had some sense of sense of what America was?

[00:08:13] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:08:13] Now looking back, you know, it’s different from visiting matchy living, but I did have some sense of, you know, what to expect and what it wouldn’t be too much of. It was a culture shock, but I think I was blessed with experiences to, to navigate here.

[00:08:30] Dan: [00:08:30] And so had you thought about what you wanted to do or what you wanted to focus on? Did you have to pick a major right away or did you have some sense of what you wanted to be?

[00:08:39] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:08:39] This is so interesting. My major in college, I changed my major three times. So I’m going to be so honest because my beginning is so different from my current actually got accepted to do petroleum engineering in college.

[00:08:54] I was that girl, my sat scores were out of the roof. I can think it was like 1750. [00:09:00] So I got accepted into the college of engineering in, in all colleges. I was accepted to Johns Hopkins, university, Oklahoma, and, um, UT at the time, that’s what I ended up getting into. I actually did it for two years. I did for two years.

[00:09:17] I remember my first internship. I was the only one. I was the only black woman. I was the only me. And I just remember thinking, oh my gosh, I can not do this because of that. Yes, because of that specifically, because during my first internship, I was the only one. I was the only one. A lot of times I remember.

[00:09:39] In that space. And I just thought it really just, I would say there were other reasons, I think, honestly, because I was so smart, I thought I should just be an engineer. I didn’t think I had options because that’s an African either doctor, engineer, lawyer. It’s just not just our generation is the generation really like breaking those, those conceptions.

[00:09:59] But I didn’t think I had a [00:10:00] choice and I, and I just remember looking around and I’m like, I’m the only one I just did not want that for myself. I said, I won’t, I refuse to break my back in an industry that I’m not even sure. I want to really be in. It’s different if that’s, you know, your life calling, but when it’s not really what you feel is your life calling or what you feel passionate about.

[00:10:19] I was like, I’m not about to go through this for the rest of my life in this industry. And I remember coming back from my internship and I had switched my major to energy management. Didn’t like that. I think I did it for a year. And after that, yeah, I took a year off because I needed to figure my stuff out and I was young, you know, so I had more leeway.

[00:10:39] So I took a year off. My mom did it. No, but at the time she didn’t know at the time she was, she did not know her. I told her after I took the, I took a year off and just kind of did life and tried to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. And immediately it hit me advertising. I just thought to myself, everybody needs to advertise [00:11:00] everybody.

[00:11:01] This is an industry that can never really die. Everybody needs to like communicate what they’re doing. So how about you go into advertising? And I came back from my year off and I went into advertising and I loved it. Love, love, loved it.

[00:11:14] Dan: [00:11:14] What was the spark moment? I mean, like, what was, did did something of your creative side or your aesthetic, or that you sort of maybe had been subduing or putting on the back burner with the engineering stuff?

[00:11:27] Is there something that was like, what made you think that you could switch? Cause that’s, that’s, that’s a pretty big difference. I think obviously from the way your career has progressed, it was the right choice. But like, that seems like a pretty big shift. Like, was there something specific that made you like, realize I can do this?

[00:11:44] Not just that this is really interesting, but like I can do this.

[00:11:48] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:11:48] One thing I love to do is to understand the consumer. I love understanding the consumer. I love understanding how to communicate with them, their preferences, their mannerisms, their methodology, [00:12:00] ways of life. And while I was working my first job, by the way, through all this was when I remember I got my work permit from the government and I immediately went to Dillard’s to apply, to be at the beauty counter.

[00:12:14] And that was my first job. And I remember thinking how much I loved communicating with the customers and how much I would love to do that on a grander scale. And I’ve always loved writing. I always loved to write and I loved writing copy things like that to, to a piece to the audience. And I thought, this is why not advertising.

[00:12:33] Like the last two, if you don’t like it, you just change your major.

[00:12:39] Dan: [00:12:39] I definitely see us wrong sense of confidence here. I don’t know that I could have gotten to college at 16, much less gone to college and another place that’s so far away from home. And obviously you had confidence in your talents and intellect and those kinds of things, but still, you definitely have taken some steps that are, that [00:13:00] takes some sense of confidence and a little bit of courage.

[00:13:03] And I think about that, Dillard’s work in the makeup counter beauty counter. I mean, that’s like the, that’s like the bootcamp for the advertising.

[00:13:13] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:13:13] Yeah.

[00:13:16] Dan: [00:13:16] They respond. Okay. That worked really well. Or that didn’t, they didn’t really like the way I said that. So it’s, it’s like real time learning like that whole 10,000 hours

[00:13:26] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:13:26] Understanding the different consumers, you know, you can’t talk to person a, to say where you talked to person B, you have to understand who you’re talking to.

[00:13:33] First of all, before you even. Selling anything. So, yeah.

[00:13:37] Dan: [00:13:37] That’s great. So you moved into advertising, right? And so how did, how did that happen?

[00:13:44] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:13:44] It was a little bit of a ruckus press personally, in the essence of imagine you already know you have African family members in mind. Your 16 year old child that already did this really big issue.

[00:13:57] At that point, I was over 18, but I came to [00:14:00] my mom and said, oh, you know, this is what I want to do. And she’s like, what? You are going to be poor. And I remember, I was like, you know, at that point, I, you know, it is cool if I’m poor now, no, but then I’m like, you know, it’s cool. This is what I really want to do.

[00:14:21] I think I can, can succeed. You know, anyways, like engineering is not for me anyways. I’m going to fail. I already was, you know, when you’re not your, heart’s not in something you’re not doing well, you know, I was so smart already as I clearly, I, you know, I’m smart, but this is where I want to be. And for the first semester, honestly, she just could not understand, but I’ll tell you something.

[00:14:43] And for any Nigerian or any African child listening, do what you need to do. Because one thing about an African parent. They will adjust. There’ll be uncomfortable for a while, but when they see that you are committed to a cause they will adjust. If they see [00:15:00] that you have your stuff together and you’re getting it done, they adjust.

[00:15:03] So I remember my first semester I showed her my grades and I got all A’s. I loved it. I loved the advertising college. First of all, they were like-minded people. There was one professor he’s dead now, but Professor Kulemeka, he was African and he was there and he took me underneath his wing. You know, I got an internship at Ackerman McQueen, which at that point in time was one of the biggest agencies that one could work at.

[00:15:24] I got an internship and then I got a job, through there. And Owen Kulemeka was his name. He helped me prepare for that journey. I would’ve never even took the application in if it wasn’t for him. And he also spoke to my mom advocating for me, like, look at what she’s doing. She’s smart. You just have to support her cause she’s going to do it, but it will be easier if you support it.

[00:15:45] Dan: [00:15:45] That is so powerful right there. Right? Cause like you said, sometimes parents and certainly African parents are in that category of, they envision a journey for their kids. Right. Or maybe a small subset [00:16:00] of journeys. Like, you know, like you said, the doc is, it can be anything you want as long as it’s a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer.

[00:16:05] Right. But having sort of like somebody with the stature of, you know, like a professor can say, nah, she’s got it. You got to believe it’s not just her saying, oh, I’ll dabble with it. She’s got it. She she’s good.

[00:16:18] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:16:18] A professor who understands too that, cause not just any professor can come through African parent and say, right, right, right.

[00:16:26] Dan: [00:16:26] He knew the protocol and the right way to approach it. And

[00:16:29] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:16:29] he, he was familiar in this rink, so he knew how to come correct representation. And that’s why representation is so key in every space. Because I had someone in Owen that I met. If I didn’t happen to him, I don’t think I could have really succeeded the way I did.

[00:16:44] Honestly.

[00:16:45] Dan: [00:16:45] That’s amazing. That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing that. So you end up going into advertising. How does beauty enter into this kind of beauty and sort of this concept come into your sort of.

[00:16:57] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:16:57] Okay. First of all, to me, beauty is culture. And I think [00:17:00] almost I can speak for black woman. And if anything, duty is culture for us, I’ve always had a very beautiful relationship with beauty.

[00:17:08] From that sense of as a child, I’m about to walk into a room and my grandmother would say, oh, my child,  in my culture means beautiful. One, every time I walked into the room, she said that to me every time, imagine, you know, it reinforces something in your, in, in the back of your head.

[00:17:26] Dan: [00:17:26] That’s given me chills, just hearing that

[00:17:29] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:17:29] had this beautiful relationship with culture.

[00:17:31] I remember even getting my hair braided, my hair braid as a child and to Paula, I called her auntie Paula. She’s still alive. And she I’m like her child. She doesn’t have kids. So I am her kid, I would say. That’s what I would braid my hair every weekend. And we formed a relationship from that one act in beauty.

[00:17:51] My mom, for instance, she says, had a closet. I’m telling you what, if you want something? Who is [00:18:00] people think I’m a fashionista, but compared to my mom, I’m playing Jane. She is something she had all the fragrances. I remember smelling her finger to them, always wanting to smell as nice as she did. I remember how she used to use a different soap for her skin than we did things like that.

[00:18:16] So it was always cultured for me. So as growing up, I naturally, I used to be a tomboy, a specific phase. I remember when my mom would put makeup on her, I’d laugh for her thinking like you don’t need all that makeup, wipe it out and make a bond. That’s crazy. I would never do that. And I still don’t wear as much, but still it’s different now.

[00:18:35] And so as growing up, I just found myself taking those practices of taking time to take care of my skin. I remember my grandmother would sit with me and make different concoctions when I had psoriasis flare ups and my sister has eczema. Would always make the Shea butter concoctions for our skin to take care of it.

[00:18:55] So it was almost like it was so natural for [00:19:00] us to always feel our, our best, even our close thought was put into it. When my mom would shop for us, you know, with clothes, our hair, things like that. It was like, uh, it was, it was normal to continuously do these things that make you feel just as good as you felt inside.

[00:19:15] So when, when I moved here, I’m thinking like, I’m good, we’ll take this energy. I’m going to read that. I’m going to bring that here. And it wasn’t like that at first, you know, I have to kind of re introduce myself to beauty here. That’s how it’s always there. It wasn’t even something like going back to the question, it wasn’t something I had to find.

[00:19:36] It was something. Was always there. I just had to refined it, reintroduce myself to it. I would say when I moved here and that was where the disconnect came about. I would say a disconnect because there was a disconnect for skimming system for pro for me to start skin me as a disconnect birth SKNMUSE.

[00:19:55] And that disconnect came and I was like, Ooh, how do I find my footing in this space? [00:20:00] Where first of all, just give you a, you know, I’m in Oklahoma, I’m going to, I’m an African girl who just came from where everybody looks like her in Oklahoma navigating this space of such a, it’s not as eclectic as you know, Los Angeles is it’s way different.

[00:20:15] So I’m navigating this space. I’ve come from a place where, when I walk into the room, somebody’s calling me or my beautiful one into the space of when I walk into the room. I don’t know what I’m going to get and I’ve come from a space of, there’s a hair, braider, whatever, you know, I have my own hair person that braid my hair.

[00:20:35] I don’t have to worry about, you know, what I’m putting on my skin. There’s always something for me to use. And I’m in a space of, well, you really have to dig deep to find a hair braider, or maybe there’s only one, or you really, you could, the lotion that you’re buying from Walmart. Cause I’m constantly, that’s what I could afford at the time.

[00:20:52] We’ll keep you moisturized for 24 hours. When you have psoriasis flare up, you might not have grandma mommy’s recipes to help you. [00:21:00] You have to figure your way and either do it yourself or go to the doctor and play this absorbing amount of money that you’re not used to paying. So it really just threw me off.

[00:21:10] I will say me working at my first job was behind the counter. Me working at the beauty department store gave me leverage to kind of lead discover for myself how I wanted to relate to beauty in this floor night.

[00:21:22] Dan: [00:21:22] That’s great. So we’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back with Asia and Iran.

[00:21:28] Yeah. From school,

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[00:22:10] Dan: [00:22:10] back. So Ezinne, a tell us how does SKNMUSE come about? But tell us, tell us a little bit about, like, how did you decide to actually do a company and create a business around this.

[00:22:19] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:22:19] Thank you. So I thought to myself, I would really love if there was a day that I could walk into a space like a Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom or a luxury beauty space and see a counter.

[00:22:31] That was an authentic reflection of me where it’s the ingredients are a familiar to me, you know, can you see something that’s in the culture of black women? It’s, it’s a trend now, but it’s always been in our culture. If you ask any black woman, I thought to myself, How beautiful would it be? If, if Brian’s like Fenty, weren’t just a one-off, you know, or if I didn’t have to go from Dior to the farmer’s market and then to this other location, [00:23:00] where in Crenshaw, just to find the things that I needed for myself, I could just, as the black woman that I am, I could walk into these spaces that capitalize off of my culture, capitalize off of my mannerisms and be catered to authentically the experience had to be different.

[00:23:17] I remember working, I, I don’t know if I can say names, but I won’t call everybody out, but I remember working at a particular space in the loves of beauty industry. And there was only one of me. I couldn’t even learn how to do makeup from people teaching me because they just didn’t know how. They didn’t know that warm and cool tones undertones for black women is not the same as if it is on an old Caucasian woman or, you know, it’s, it’s different.

[00:23:41] People can understand what K beauty is for what people don’t understand for some reason. Okay. But for people who are listening and I don’t know, beauty is Korean beauty. It’s called it’s a whole different genre. I would say. COVID they call it a K beauty that’s Korean beauty skincare people. For some reason, it was industry understand the need for K beauty, but they don’t understand the need [00:24:00] for African beauty and its aesthetics and why it’s necessary.

[00:24:03] And I just thought that how can we be giving so much to this space? And be have so much delivered to us. And I thought it had to change. There had to be a change. I remember talking to not my little sister moved here two years ago, and I remember talking to her before moving here. And I remember her saying things.

[00:24:24] They don’t even have dark skin people. She’s a beautiful, deep, rich melanin. And she’s like, she said that comment, that’s crazy. Where were the darker people here? You know, she would say things like that. And I thought, wow, if my sister or who doesn’t even live here as noticing these things, imagine the other little girls who don’t get to have somebody call them Omalicha Nwa when they walk into the room or don’t get to have the upbringing than I did, or the people around them to reassure them how beautiful they are, because beauty is culture. And if no one is giving you that first [00:25:00] intro, no one is really taking time out to introduce it to you in, in the most healthy way, it could really mess up your psyche could really mess up your mental and with skin moves, I want to be at at least that safe Haven to introduce it to women like myself and children like myself and, and beyond, and the most authentic and most beautiful way.

[00:25:23] So that it does something to you when you know that regardless of what outside is telling you in yourself, you know, that I am all that I can be and more, I do deserve these luxurious items and more, and that’s really why we started in use. Um, I say we, because it takes a village, but even though it’s my idea, people have also invested in it blood and sweat and tears.

[00:25:47] So it got me started about, because we wanted to have an authentic reflection of a black woman in the luxury beauty space.

[00:25:54] Dan: [00:25:54] It’s so interesting because we just had a conversation with somebody who’s in the apparel fashion world. And it’s a [00:26:00] little bit of a similar aspect in that it’s, it’s almost like.

[00:26:04] The products are the tip of the iceberg, the culture, the community, the story, the origins, the sort of, sort of essentialness to life that these products represent is so much deeper than just something on the counter you pick up. And they’ll offense to people who work on toothpaste, but you know, it’s not toothpaste.

[00:26:25] Right. And I think sometimes when people think about beauty products or, or other, uh, other products in sort of the nonmedical, but like, you know, skin area, they think of it like it’s toothpaste or like a bar of soap, right? Like, yeah, you just, you know, you buy, yeah, you get some favorites, but you, you know, you can also be talked out of it because of costs or it’s price.

[00:26:46] And I really love that. You’re, you’re talking about how, how deeply connected people are to these, the use and the presence of these products in their life.

[00:26:57] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:26:57] People forget, people tend to minimize the [00:27:00] impact of these things and they minimize it because they’re not affected by it. But the reality of the situation, these things shaped the way we see ourselves.

[00:27:08] If you talk to, I don’t know how many black women you have in your life. Even hair, braiding herself is a very sacred act. I have a daughter, you know, it’s a very sacred act to get your hair braided, even as braiding, your hair impacts how you see your hair. If you go to someone who’s like, oh, your hair is too tough.

[00:27:27] Or you’re, you know, like I can’t deal with this curl pattern. It starts reinforcing something in you. Like your hair should not be, it’s not, it’s not okay in its natural state. You start thinking these things versus you go to someone like my auntie Paula, who was braiding my hand and just reinforcing. I think the only thing she would say is look at your big head filled with curly hair that, you know, things like that I never was.

[00:27:50] I think those are the things wrong with my hair till I moved to America. Like, you know, so people like to minimize these things or minimize the fact that people, women like myself, when we go into spaces, like [00:28:00] all Walmart, our beauty products are locked away in a, you have to ask somebody to come in and walk it for you.

[00:28:06] You know, I think they just recently made a pledge to stop doing that. But that was a reality is that you couldn’t even get things like that for us without it would be locked up. So what are you telling the kids when they’re seeing that other people can go in and get what they need, but they have to ask for permission for you to unlock something for them to something as simple as hair cream.

[00:28:27] Dan: [00:28:27] Right, right. Yeah. I mean, it’s creating this create divide and, and less than

[00:28:33] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:28:33] Subconsciously.

[00:28:35] Dan: [00:28:35] So tell us, how do you come up with, I’m not a product person and a recipe person, and obviously you have this heritage of your family. And, but how did you come up with the, with the products themselves and the recipes and the sort of the perfect balance of like what should SKNMUSE have in it for these butters and oils?

[00:28:55] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:28:55] Because I love this question because it’s one of my, I think it’s something I kind of I’m very proud of is our [00:29:00] formula. Our formulas are to 100% natural. We only use, we’ve been able to sustain a standard of being a hundred percent organic. And we source some of our products like the Shea butter and cocoa.

[00:29:13] We source them from West Africa. We also use Moroccan oil, which, you know, you have to get from the Middle East. And sometimes those from Dubai, certain fragrances have to be gotten from Dubai. So we do that. We’ve been able to extend this to a standard, a lot of these, because I came from a family where we have cold, clean beauty.

[00:29:32] It was very easy for me to know that I could do it. So a lot of these formulas are influenced by my childhood. For instance, our buddy butter, it’s influenced by the mixtures. My grandma and mom used to mix. Obviously the diet, cause I changed it up a little bit. Yes. Because it has to be mine at the end of the day, but the reality of it is like, because they showed me how I knew how to do it.

[00:29:55] You know, our Divine body oil, which is like one of our best sellers it’s actually [00:30:00] named after my sister. Her name is Divine. Her middle name is Divine.

[00:30:04] Dan: [00:30:04] I love it. I was wondering if like your grandma’s name or mom’s name and then some names. And I also see in the future, there’s a, there’s a beautiful one using that vision, that Nigerian terms, probably a line that comes with that.

[00:30:17] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:30:17] A lot of these things it’s actually named after my higher middle name is Divine. So we, it, when I was making that body oil, I actually had her skin in mind. There are certain things that she needs for her skin. Like it’s, it’s infused vitamin E rose hip, and it’s laced with Egyptian, honey. That’s the soft fragrance that you, you, you get from that body oil.

[00:30:37] So it was influenced by me, just like my sister and her skin. And that’s how that body would leave in the color. It’s like this rich gold hue as well. And then when it hits the light, it just looks beautiful. It’s really all influenced by that beautiful, beautiful sister of mine. And then our cuticle, for instance, a hundred percent natural is way to top 10 right now in the country that was influenced [00:31:00] because a lot of the women in my life, aunties actually are our nurses.

[00:31:05] If, you know, like usually that’s something that’s in the Nigerian culture and they always complain about how they want like moisturize hands or they want Lino something a little more with their nails, but they can’t because of the smell. Or because of the medical field that they’re in. So when I was making that cuticle oil, I knew it was very important that we should only use natural ingredients in there.

[00:31:26] And I knew that the smell had to also be something that soft enough that could make them feel beautiful, but not overpower. So that’s, that’s how that came about. Even our candles as well. They’re a hundred percent organic. Everything in there it’s actually influenced by one of my best friends. We migrated to America together and we worked on that line together.

[00:31:48] Everything that we do, there’s an intention behind it. Every single thing that we do, there’s an intention behind it. It’s it’s influenced by it just lets me say, beauty is culture. It’s influenced by culture. It’s influenced by the [00:32:00] people around me.

[00:32:01] Dan: [00:32:01] I love that. I love that your site is amazing. I mean, you know, for such a new company, it’s almost like you have the brand presence of somebody who’s been around for 50 years.

[00:32:11] Is that you, is that somebody in your team? Or like, how did that come about? Because it is really, it’s really well done.

[00:32:17] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:32:17] Okay. I built our website. I am not a web developer, but when you’re a company that is starting up, cause we’re, we’ve been bootstrapping big things. People aren’t talking about entrepreneurship, you do a lot of things by yourself.

[00:32:30] You do a, you learn it’s entrepreneurial intrepreneurship is the school that never ends. It’s I tell people I’m in school. That’s how I look at the I’m in school right now, because you have to learn so many things. I built that by myself. Obviously my advertising degree helps, helps, but they don’t teach you how to do code.

[00:32:48] So I did that myself actually.

[00:32:51] Dan: [00:32:51] It’s really well done.

[00:32:55] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:32:55] I also want to give credit to our creative officer as well. He is now a chief creative officer. [00:33:00] He’s been with us since day one. A lot of those pictures that you see on that site, even though I built the site, he grabbed that beautiful iPhone of his and took a cup. A lot of every, actually a hundred percent of the shots he took, I believe on an iPhone, did the edits and just send them over.

[00:33:16] And I did the rest.

[00:33:18] Dan: [00:33:18] Usually the, the user experience, unless you’re doing an app or something, the website is more transactional, right. It’s like trying to get you to the product. And yours does an okay job for that too. But as a guy, I don’t know what skincare means to me. Right. I’m drawn to the site. It’s like, I want to, I want to check this out.

[00:33:36] And, and so that’s a powerful element that a lot of companies get to later. Right. They sort of like, let’s just see if people want what we want when we got, and then so it’s impressive.

[00:33:48] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:33:48] For us. And then I think for other beauty listeners listening in, it’s very important that when you’re not in a brick and mortar space, you appeal to the other senses of your consumer.

[00:33:57] So visually if you cannot appeal, [00:34:00] if you’re a first, if your first contact with those cannot be you trying these beautiful little oils and butters that made your first contact with us is whatever we give to you visually. So it’s the, for us as a brand, it’s very important that we deliver visually, that’s your first contact with us. And that’s something we’ve tried to do every time we, what we’re doing.

[00:34:21]Dan: [00:34:21] It makes a lot of sense. And so you, you started before COVID and obviously it went through COVID tell us a little bit about, like, did you start with trying to sell direct, sell through retail, selling online? Did that change with COVID.

[00:34:36] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:34:36] I say that we were blessed. And then when they go to that, COVID was a horrible time for everybody. But I think as a, as a new company, the fact that we got to kind of spread our wings during that time, put us in a, in an area that it’s, it’s almost like prepared us for like the worst, I would say, knock on wood.

[00:34:56] Hopefully nothing else. Not right now. We can’t take [00:35:00] it right now. So we had launched November 19th, 2019. So that’s like right at the end of the year, it was during holiday season. I don’t know if that was a good idea or a bad idea. I’m not sure, but that was when we decided to take off. It was so much of a blessing that when we launched, we actually sold 50% of our inventory.

[00:35:20] So the business for a really early stage. Was able to start sustain itself where it’s like, I’m not getting paid just yet, but I don’t have to dip into my savings account. After my, after like my first initial investment, it started kind of making money by itself. So we focus when we first launched. This is before we knew what a pandemic even was.

[00:35:44] We were focusing on pop-up shops. We noticed that when we go to pop-up shops, we will be able to do so well because people got to try it. You know, and hear the brand story. And we would try to do one a month. And that was very helpful. And by the time [00:36:00] the pandemic hit, I remember it was like we had one pop up shop.

[00:36:03] We didn’t know. We thought like, oh, this is going to be two weeks. I was actually working, still working in corporate at the time. And you know, I was like, oh, this is great. We’re going to be home and take a little vacation and it’s going to be great. And then when it hit that like, oh, we’re going to be in this for a minute.

[00:36:20] I was blessed. I’m very spiritual. So I don’t think anything was just a coincidence. I think that there’s an intention behind everything in this world. I was blessed to be accepted in his accelerator called Grid110 and. I owe a lot to that accelerator because through that accelerator, I learned the difference of, I always knew beauty.

[00:36:38] I knew beauty. I know how to do beauty. It’s in my DNA, but I didn’t know business. So they were able to teach me the difference between working in your business versus working on your business. They, they did that for me. What was an example of that? For instance, I didn’t know, which is so crazy as an [00:37:00] advertising Reno, but advertising, I didn’t know how important it is to take out time to really study your customer mannerisms.

[00:37:09] I just thought she wasn’t going to keep pushing. I didn’t know how important that was. I didn’t even know how to build a business plan. I didn’t even think I needed one at that state. I thought I was too early to start thinking that far into the future. I didn’t know what supply chain management was, things like that because of them.

[00:37:27] I was able to. You know, take my illegal resources more. I think I didn’t even think I needed a lawyer. You know, I’m thinking I’m just here, you know, we’re just launching softly. And through that accelerator, we got accepted in March around the same time. You know, the lockdown started in LA. I was lucky to do it through the pandemic.

[00:37:45] So I had time to really digest information they gave me. And then we would have maybe, and because we depended so much on pop-ups, we didn’t think that we could really thrive on e-commerce only as a new beauty brand, because beauty, you have to [00:38:00] like try and sample. That’s what we’ve been taught. You know, so many times people have to keep, people have to try before they come in.

[00:38:06] So we didn’t know what we were doing both through Grid110. They were like, no, you have to take a step back. This is great. What you’re doing, this is fine. But in order for you to have longevity and in order for you to not just. A one-off brand. If you want to build something you have to build, you can just keep being in the house.

[00:38:24] You got to come outside and step out your house for a second and look, okay. This part of the house needs to be updated. This person needs to be maintained. Break this down to just that, that you got to step out the house. You got to come and leave the room and see what walk around your house a little bit.

[00:38:37] And they gave me the tools to walk around the house a little bit. They gave me go here for this legal aid. They gave me build this business plan like this. They gave me, this is how your pitch deck should look. This is why it’s important for you to utilize PR things like that. I didn’t even, I didn’t even know that you should really set up a pixel on your website and they gave me that.

[00:38:57] But back to your question, we started [00:39:00] pop-ups and then through Grid110, we were able to really utilize the visual aesthetics and keep that I would say keep pushing and being consistent in other avenues. Pivot is the word that we use that season. We were able to pivot because we had people helping us understand the model.

[00:39:18] Dan: [00:39:18] That’s great. We’re going to take another short break and we’ll be right back with Ezinne Iroanya from SKNMUSE.

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[00:40:05] Dan: [00:40:05] So we’re back with Ezinne, I want to hear about the Beyoncé connection. How did that come about? Cause you got featured by Beyoncé and that’s no trivial thing.

[00:40:15] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:40:15] Have you not heard the word that’s that phrase Dunstan when they say like there’s nothing stronger than a Beyoncé NDA

[00:40:23] Dan: [00:40:23] no, I haven’t heard that. Obviously I haven’t had, I haven’t had any interactions with Beyoncé and her team and her legal crew.

[00:40:30] So

[00:40:31] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:40:31] There’s nothing stronger than a Beyoncé NDA, that’s just jokes aside. We can talk about it. Funny how people always think that I knew that was going to happen before it happened. I found out about that the same time, the whole world. The Beyoncé feature. Yes. People, I think something would be online. So this day it was so funny because I remember that morning, somebody, another company had reached out to us for us to partner with them for Juneteenth.

[00:40:55] And we had been doing really well at that point. And I could tell the team, we were very small. It was me most of the [00:41:00] time. And you know how like any final help? No, full-time help. And I remember thinking to myself, we’ve done so well. We’ve already met the once goal. Let’s skip out on this. So I told them, sorry, like our plates are full.

[00:41:11] We can’t do this. Like we’re tired is what I said the morning before Beyoncé, you know, I was, I, I was turning that opportunity saying that we were tired and we needed to rest. I remember it was a beautiful day. It was Juneteenth. I had gone somewhere and Inglewood to celebrate. I love to sell it. I love food.

[00:41:31] So I will bump in between black owned restaurants, celebrating. And we were sitting my partner and I were sitting on our bed, eating oxtails and watching TV, my phone, if you have the Shopify app, it just keeps going thing, you know, orders are coming in. I have to get that. Oh, this is cool. You know? And then like 10, I want point came in in the span of like two minutes and I’m like, Hmm.

[00:41:56] We didn’t do anything special for, do you think we don’t have like any special [00:42:00] promos going on? This is interesting and they keep coming in and my partner looks at me and he’s like, you should totally ask God for 20 orders chuckle because I’m like 20. I thought he’s like doing, do it, do it. And I’m over there.

[00:42:14] God, just give us 21. Obviously 20 came in, like back to back to back and I’m like, okay, something’s going on? Like, I remember I was looking at him. I was like, what the hell? He’s like, you know, just go with it, ask God for 50.

[00:42:29] Dan: [00:42:29] Are you thinking it’s like a PR like you getting punked or something like he fixed your phone.

[00:42:34] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:42:34] I thought, you know, cause I went onto like, I’m like, okay, these are real people. I’m looking at people. These are real people. So I thought, oh, somebody some influencer because we hadn’t really started doing influencer marketing, but we’ve been blessed with like, our product is so good. Like word of mouth is a tool that is, has blessed us.

[00:42:49] So I thought somebody somewhere might have done like a review and just posted it or something and some something I thought I thought an influencer literally. So I went on Twitter. [00:43:00] I remember, cause we’re laughing. He’s like pray for 50. I’m like pause, like something is going on. We need to find out where this traffic is coming from.

[00:43:07] I went on Twitter. It didn’t think for me at that point to just look at the Shopify analytics, I just kind of was like, let me go on Twitter. I went on Twitter and I typed up this tweet that says, which every influencer is helping us out right now. God bless you. Please reach out to me. If you see this.

[00:43:26] Next thing, you know, my friend calls, no, she sent me a text message. Be like, you’re going to be honest, his website. I was like, and I’m a beehive member. So I was like, that is a really horrible joke for you to make. That’s not nice. And you know, she’s like, so she sends me a screenshot and I still think she’s messing with me.

[00:43:44] I’m like, she’s like, go on there if you don’t believe me that go on there. So I go on there and I see, and I’m just like, like obviously, like I’m a beehive member. I grew up listening to Beyoncé. I grew up doing the whole Destiny’s child. I grew up admiring this woman [00:44:00] and to be on her platform, standing so strongly beside all these other strong brands in beauty, we are not even up to a year.

[00:44:08] So I’m screaming in, in the, in almost poor. My oxtails are, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I remember calling the first person I called was Mickey from Grid110 because even though we were tired, I knew that preparation had met opportunity at this point. Preparation hadn’t met opportunity. I knew I needed, if anything, I knew that we were prepared at the least for this opportunity.

[00:44:31] And I was just yelling and screaming and just, I couldn’t believe in my partner, he’s looking at me. He said he’s criminal too, because he knows what this means for, for me, especially I, first of all, first things first, I’m a beehive member, second things for as Beyoncé just blessed our business by stuff.

[00:44:45] So were I called my mom after? And I remember her saying, God bless Beyoncé.

[00:44:56] She don’t hear praise me.

[00:45:01] [00:45:00] I’ll say. And the orders, when I tell you that, that whole weekend for three days, my phone non-stop ding, ding, ding, ding, it was like raining orders. And it just kept coming in and cupping coming in. And at one point, I don’t know if this is a good thing for other people to tell people, but I just, I like to be honest, I won’t put, we were actually sold out, but we didn’t want to mark it.

[00:45:24] Because we knew that if we had marked that sold out, we would lose out. So we just, we just let it go. This come in. And as they’re coming in, we’re preparing on the backend because we don’t wear so though, but people don’t need to know that because this is traffic that we don’t know when we’ll ever get, we’ve never experienced this.

[00:45:40] So we just let it ride would be like, we’re going to ride this out. So as orders are coming in, we’re on the back. One thing we do work with is small businesses. That’s something that is very intentional in my heart, as long as we can. And we’ll continue to work with small businesses. And because we were working with small businesses, when we called them and said, Hey, you honestly just called us to the stage.

[00:45:59] We got to pull [00:46:00] up every single vendor because we have that relationship with them. They hustled and bustled, I may, or they were shipping down, you know, materials that we needed. They were like expediting processes for us. They were showing up because they knew that they needed to show up for us. And they showed up every single day.

[00:46:22] We won any order that I remember when we thought like, okay, there was a particular about a hundred orders that we knew that we might not be able to get done in. Cause we have like a five-day processing time. We, we knew we wouldn’t do it. We knew we needed about like 10 days. I sent them an email saying, Hey guys, Thank you so much for the order because of this.

[00:46:41] We’re going to be on, on the back where you order might take longer, but we will be providing this free product for you. The free products they got there in time because of the vendors that we’ve worked with, they just made sure like whatever you need at this point to show up, so you don’t lose out on customers, we’re going to insure.

[00:47:00] [00:46:59] So when the Beyoncé thing happened, it could have sunk us. This is one part I like to tell people about because people thought it was all good. We could have sunk because we might not have had been able to, how do we not been able to show up? People would have seen us as that like incompetent brand, but because we were able to show up the preparation met opportunity, it really gave us, I would say the kiss from Beyoncé gave us a step up to really like come in with, be bolder.

[00:47:27] And I believe from there, that’s how we got known is by Elle magazine.

[00:47:31] Dan: [00:47:31] That makes a lot of sense. What I’m sensing though, is that I love that phrase preparation meets opportunity, right? And build a company’s culture around that and your leadership to say, you know that thing, we talk about all the time.

[00:47:46] This is it. This is now, this is how we show that we were ready for it.

[00:47:50] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:47:50] Right. This is what we show up. This is how we got to show up. So we just showed up. We showed it was till Sunday. It’s one of the happiest. If I ever meet on the same person, she’s [00:48:00] getting a hug and a kiss. And if you want to say, if you hear us, Dan, and me talk you right now, girl sliding my DMs please.

[00:48:08] Dan: [00:48:08] I can’t guarantee that. Unfortunately, I don’t know that she listens to the show.

[00:48:13] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:48:13] She has eyes everywhere! You don’t know…

[00:48:17] Dan: [00:48:17] That’s right. That’s right. So tell us, what’s your sort of big vision for skin meals? Like if five or 10 years or whatever it takes to sort of achieve what you want it to achieve, what does that look like for you?

[00:48:30] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:48:30] For me, that looks like a luxury skincare house that is an authentic reflection of women like myself and women of color. You know, that’s a luxury skincare house. I mean, I see you walking into a SKNMUSE brick and mortar space. And just knowing that your day is just about, you’re going to receive your highest form of self-care from the way we speak to you, to the way we recommend things to you, to the other brands [00:49:00] that will be housed in this luxury skincare house.

[00:49:02] It’s a space for beauty re-imagined for black women. It’s a space where you go in and you don’t doubt. Any interaction or any experience, you know that, oh, this is where I need to be when I want to have, you know, you have just, you know, you just have those days there. And when you’re just like, and you walk up in that luxury skin, that skim use store and you just, I mean, it’s authentic you here, they call you SIS.

[00:49:27] When you walk in, they make you feel special, you know, from the touch from point A to point B, we’re disrupting it. We know what we’re doing. We’re disrupting the beauty industry because we are, re-imagining what beauty is. So the big picture is this luxury skincare house that has equally amazing or even better.

[00:49:44] You know, I always feel like I should eat. You always welcome better solutions or even better, better brands that are just a complete, authentic reflection of women like myself.

[00:49:54] Dan: [00:49:54] That’s beautiful. You know, again, it wasn’t about, you know, moving pallets of product or, or, [00:50:00] you know, things like that. It’s about creating an experience sot and I’ll let you in on a secret, like when I have those days, one of the things that really lifts me up is this, I love these conversations.

[00:50:11] And I was telling my friends, like, you know, I needed to do something that I hate to do right after these, because I’m in such a good mood. I it’s like, ah, I’m just going to go do it anyway. Right. So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about fundraising. I mean, you’re still sort of an early, you know, you’re very early in your journey, but how has fundraising happened for your company?

[00:50:30] And you talked about bootstrapping, but if he tried to raise money from the outside, are you raising money now? Or how do you view that?

[00:50:37]Ezinne Iroanya: [00:50:37] I love, love, love this question. Because one thing I found out about the fundraising world, it is it’s like a dating game. It’s like, oh my gosh, she was the best one on Tinder I’ve lived.

[00:50:49] And the decisions are made that quickly, too. Swipe left on real quick. By now, we were going to fundraise and we were going to bring in investors. But [00:51:00] something about this business is that we’ve been blessed so much. That we don’t need to fundraise right now for better worse. But what we are doing is that we are entertaining confrontations with potential investors we’re into, to entertaining conversation.

[00:51:15] The essence of, because we’re so blessed that we’re not in a rush for money, we’re blessed to make decisions without being desperate. So if you know, you’re an investor wanting to talk to us where we will come from, we’ll have the conversation we want to know about you. We want to know why you think this is something that you’re going to benefit from, or do you believe in what we’re building?

[00:51:37] You know, not just the traction and the trajectory, but do you believe in the mission that we are doing? Yes. Clearly, money will come from it because it’s a business. It’s a new business that now we have more employees we’re able to, you know, have more full-time employees work with us, but the God-forbid cards came crashing.

[00:51:57] How confident are, how [00:52:00] confident are you in our cause that we will always rise above. We’re not desperately looking for money, but we are entertaining conversations. We thought we would need to. I remember earlier this year, we were like, oh, we should definitely, we need to go. But we were kept so busy from our current, you know, business that we don’t even have the time to, to think about that right now, our main priority is how can we show best for the customers because they are the reason why we don’t even need to fundraise, you know,

[00:52:29] Dan: [00:52:29] Nothing to apologize for there. I mean, you’re building a sound business that is growing and fundraising is partnership, which you identified and the finances really are fuel. There they’re like any other resources then when you need them and you need them. And so it’s not an automatic that you have to go raise money. If your company is doing XYZ, have you explored how those conversations go?

[00:52:53] Do you feel any sort of aspect of like being a black woman, founder affecting the dynamic in any [00:53:00] way? I mean, obviously your product and your service is very intentional in the community that you reflect, but how does that come through or does it come through at all and in investor conversation?

[00:53:13] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:53:13] I would say yes and no, because it’s so interesting.

[00:53:16] When we do have these conversations, it was something as small as like my hair. If it’s in a frozen the emphasis in braids, I really give it a thought or do I need to wear a certain type of wig for this type of investor conversation? It’s something that’s, it’s, it’s so small, but people don’t think about, but it’s something that I’m pretty sure other black women think about is how can I show up best before the assumptions get applied to me?

[00:53:41] Because the assumptions will come. I do know that sometimes I walk into a space and people are shocked by the audacity of me. I I’m very, I’m very aware of that. I do know that I walk into a space, people. Offended by the odd mile Udacity or the way my light shines. And I do know that when I’m walking into certain meetings, I can [00:54:00] not let this audacity shine too much.

[00:54:02] I have to dial it back. So these are things that I’m finding myself. Um, I’m having to navigate when I’m in this conversation, these thoughts of how can I show up without the assumptions striking me down? Because the reality of the situation is that just like this dating game, when I walk in the odds are stacked against.

[00:54:25] I’m an immigrant, I’m a black woman. The odds are stacked against me. My idea coming from me might not be received well the same way. It will be received from a white man. And that’s just true. And it’s an unfortunate truth, but it is something that I have come to terms with and it makes me, and that’s why we’re a little bit blessed because we’re not so desperate where we have a little flexibility to flex a little bit and look around for whom we think is best for us to partner with and how I deal with these thoughts of doubt.

[00:54:56] I think I’ve been blessed with the ignorance as an African, [00:55:00] because I came from a space where I didn’t have to deal with this. So I know like before this, I know how to do life outside of this. So I started remembering what that life is like when I’m having these meetings and I’ve started pushing it.

[00:55:16] Past spills, those doubts. I will say I’m pushing. I know they’re there. I’m not, you know, I’m not stupid. I, I know the elephant is in the room. I know that the elephant is large and in charge, but the only thing that I can do is show up as my best and hopefully hoping that when that right partnership comes about, it will make sense for everyone, which will help us with the longevity.

[00:55:39] So now I say, I operate with an ignorance. I do it intentionally. I’m seeing the signs, I’m catching the science. I see it when it comes my way, but I also operate with ignorance of, there is nothing that I’m incapable of achieving. As far as I know that I might not be able to get to it as fast as [00:56:00] Matthew down the block, but I know I’m to get there and I will get there without sabotaging the beauty of me or the authenticity of my, of my essence because I want to show up fully as me.

[00:56:14] I want other women like me like Boss, but we call a Bad Ass Boss on Instagram. She works the apple. Now she has her beautiful app, you know, her hair, she showed up so authentically that women like myself were like, we can show up authentically too. She has her nails done. She has our hoops on yeah. We show up.

[00:56:32] I want to show up without sacrificing my essence. And if that means that I need to bring that ignorance back up, I see what you’re saying and feel this energy, but I’m going to still move with knowing that just like my grandma would say , there’s nothing that I cannot accomplish if I want it. It might not get there as quick, but I’m gonna get there.

[00:56:55] And if you don’t want to come with me, that’s cool too.

[00:56:59] Dan: [00:56:59] That, [00:57:00] I mean, you have confidence, but I also hear this wisdom. This there’s a lot of wisdom there, which is which a lot of people in your stage of journey, don’t come to those realizations as quickly as you have, which is, which is awesome. So tell us, I like to ask this question.

[00:57:14] You’ve been on this journey for now a couple of years, and you’ve obviously learned a lot and incorporated that learning into your life. But if you could go back to the pre-startup version of yourself, so maybe back when you were in advertising and still thinking about what, what the future was, and if this Ezinne, they could go back and talk to that one, what advice would you give her?

[00:57:37] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:57:37] I feel like I’m like a little emotional because I’m like, I should take this advice now. I would tell her two things. If I could go back and love on that person, I would tell her two things. One just bet on you. What’s the worst that could happen. Like you might not even go be homeless. You can go back home to Africa to go back to Nigeria.

[00:57:58] If it doesn’t work out, [00:58:00] I would say bet on yourself. One and two, I will tell her to stand in your truth and the world will make room for you. And just tell her just, I just keep telling her that stand in your truth and the world will make one for you to stand in your truth and the world will make room for you.

[00:58:19] Dan: [00:58:19] If I were her, you would’ve, you would’ve inspired me for sure. That’s great. As we look to close out, we always like to live a call to action to our audience on foundation. What are the ways that we can be helpful to you? Or it’s a scheme? Yeah. Two things

[00:58:33] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:58:33] that you can do for us. First of all, is find us on all our social media platforms, Instagram, most especially Twitter.

[00:58:40] We’re just not experimenting with Tik TOK and follow it’s. S K N M U S E on all platforms. That way you can get updated on things we’re doing, you know, see how it works. Also learn more about our social impact. Secondly, when you’re going on there, purchase from us, because that’s how, not only are you purchasing from us, [00:59:00] you’re also sponsoring therapy sessions for black kids.

[00:59:02] When you purchase from us, you’re also funding other small businesses because we, 80% of our resources actually come from small businesses. Right now. You’re also funding our lifestyle because, because of you, that’s our lifeline. So find us on social media purchase from us. Oh, and for your platform, actually, when you do purchase from us, use code SKNMUSE, and you can get an extra 10%.

[00:59:25] Dan: [00:59:25] All right now, now you got it. Now you got it. This has been an incredible conversation. I’m I’m so happy. We had time together. Thank you so much for taking the time. Isn’t he?

[00:59:34] Ezinne Iroanya: [00:59:34] Thank you. Thank you for creating this platform. I think this is just amazing. The series that you’re doing with people like myself, this is such adding a light.

[00:59:43] So I like to, I like to tell people what I think about them fully. I think that this is such a special space. I think that you make it extremely comfortable for us. I think that you are standing in a true to, and you’re, you’re doing something so beautiful. So I hope that you are inspired as [01:00:00] much as I am from these conversations.

[01:00:02] So thank you.

[01:00:04] Dan: [01:00:04] We’d like to thank our guest Ezinne Iroanya, and our sponsor AfriBocks.

[01:00:09] This podcast was produced by We Edit Podcasts.

[01:00:12] Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts or simply go to foundersunfound.com/listenedto, that’s. Listen, T O. And follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn @foundersunfound.

[01:00:24] Thanks so much for tuning in. I am Dan Kihanya and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.