LagosMums loves to meet with different mothers to talk about motherhood and how they balance their various roles. Our LagosMums Mum of the Month is Leslie Okoye, mother, wife and business owner. She is the founder of @cookieskin a skincare line for women. We always learn when we read someone else’s story and they share their experiences with us.
Who is Leslie Okoye?
I’m a bit of an introvert. I say a bit because I may not seem that way as I’ve taught myself over the years to be more open and outgoing.
Tell us about your beautiful family?
There’s a saying, ‘you don’t get to choose your family, it chooses you’. Well, my family chose me. For years, I had recurring dreams about the kind of family I would have. I would see my son, daughter and husband, but never my husband’s face. I would see us holding hands as we travelled together. I would see the kids laughing and playing outside with their dad. I believe not seeing a face in my dreams helped me recognise my husband when he showed up in real life. He was the start to my family, the kind of family I always knew I dreamed of having. Simple and full of love.
Tell us about your journey to motherhood?
After marriage, I decided to wait two years before trying. I remember the day we decided it was time to have a baby. There was no long talk involved. We had finished watching our favourite series and then we started playing and landed on the floor. After a minute of silence we both looked at each other and said it’s time. But it didn’t quite happen as planned. I got pregnant and miscarried, it was very sad because we both were excited.
About nine months later, I was able to conceive when I stopped stressing and planning. I ended up having my daughter and son back to back. Pregnancy was good and stressful, but mostly good. I made the best of it. Rested when I needed to but definitely kept active.
How has motherhood changed you?
Being a mother has taught me a few vital life lessons that have changed me for the better. Firstly, time waits for no one, make the best of it, make it work and get things done. I have become quite organised and strategic. I am very intentional especially with how I spend my money and how I spend my time.
Secondly, stop dreaming of the future and live in the now. I’ve learned to stop waiting for xyz to fall in place before taking action and just do it. But above all, being a mother has taught me how to love. Love is love, for me I can’t say I love my kids more than my husband, then claim I love my husband. I say this because it reminds me to be equally as forgiving and loving to my spouse as I am to my kids. I have learned to love people unconditionally.
Can you tell us some of the funniest things your children have said?
Not long ago my daughter said ‘mommy I want to go back inside’. She was pointing to my stomach. I also remember when she was about 3 years old and she was dancing around me eager to taste soursop. I gave her some and she walked backwards out of the room with a look of horror on her face as she asked, “what is this”? I said it’s soursop and she frowned shaking her head and said “you mean sour yuckky”. We all burst out laughing,
Tell us about your career journey and your entrepreneurship journey to creating @mscookieskin?
I began my skin care line in January 2010. By December 2010, I had to change my entire business operations to meet consumer expectations. Initially, there were lot of complaints about packaging, ease of use and the formula. I used the criticism to improve my product development. Ever since that time, business has been good, the brand is growing and CookieSkin is a competitive product in the market.
While we are still a young start-up, there have been a lot of challenges, especially since we started operating in Nigeria. While the brand is strong, the inflation rates, importation taxes, and unforeseen difficulties such as fuel scarcity have been daunting. However, L’Okoye Cosmetics has been able to thrive due to differentiation, appropriate pricing, and a matrix like business model that’s flexible. Though my parents worked 9-5, a close uncle of mine whom I look up to is a skincare manufacturer. I learned a lot from him and am inspired by him.
Who is CookieSkin For?
CookieSkin is for every woman of African origin who cares about having her best skin that’s smooth, radiant and soft. A lot of CookieSkin users are educated women moving away from harsh creams and complicated skincare routines. They are busy women with dynamic lives who want to look their best or at least put their best face forward.
CookieSkin products can be ordered online on CookieSkin.com also on Jumia.com.ng. But mainly, you can get it at Prince Ebeano Supermarkets, Casabella Beauty stores, Med Plus Pharmacy and also order for delivery just by calling the store.
Can you tell us about the L’Okoye Academy?
L’Okoye Academy is the educational section of the skincare business. While many want to get into the skincare and cosmetics business by having their own brand, many still don’t have the right knowledge. I see damage done to beautiful skins as a result of ignorance, laziness and greed. By training future entrepreneurs, sales executives, current store owners and individuals to become expert Skincare Consultants, I believe the consumer will have more buying power and demand more from beauty brands.
You are definitely a Yummy Mummy – can you tell us how you stay stylish and your beauty routine (especially tips for busy mums who might be struggling to find the time)
I think it’s about finding a balance. I really don’t see myself as stylish when you compare what’s going on out there these days in terms of clothes. However, long time ago before marriage, I noticed I never wore my “good clothes” because I was saving them for special occasions. So, I made a pact with myself to always wear all the clothes in my closet, and to wear more colors. This was 10 years ago and it’s made me ‘stylish’ to some degree. So people ask, where are you going? I say, nowhere, this is me on the regular.
My beauty routine is quite simple. I love love love taking care of my skin, it’s like a ritual. However, I don’t over do it, less really is more. So, the best tip I can give is, invest in good skincare and use it religiously, especially at night. When in doubt, find an skincare expert and get a consultation. You have to make the time, at least start by washing your face every night.
What support system do you have and how do you manage your career with raising a family?
My family is my biggest support system. My husband is loving and understanding, he listens to my worries and gives good advise. My parents are there to help when needed with the kids should I need space. One thing I make sure of is that I put my family first. Sometimes its hard, but nothing is perfect so talking and reminding your loved ones that you love them and are there for them is key. My spouse and I have a pretty good relationship where we both kind of know when the other needs space. So, he might take the kids out and spend the whole day with them just to give me space. Or if we are at home, he will take them outside to play with them so I can work or have my meeting. We just make it work.
Does Work Life Balance exist? Can you advise mums who are struggling to balance raising their families and winning in their businesses?
This is a sensitive area for many women. Yes, I do believe work life balance exists. It is what you make it. Let’s look at the issue simply. If you are a mum who is struggling to balance raising her family and winning in her business, then yes, something has to give or else something and/or someone suffers. My simple advise would be to evaluate your life on both sides, see where the guilt, anger, frustration and stress are coming from. It’s really as simple as doing less of xyz in A and more xyz in B or vice versa.
I’ll give you a real example. I started a radio show once a week on Wednesdays, 9-10pm at night. Discussed with hubby who was reluctant not because it was bad, but because he felt I would be too tired and it would strain my family life. I argued against and did it. Fast forward 4 months later, I quit on my own. I was always tired by 8pm Wednesdays, I missed being home with the kids, it was cutting into my home time and I found myself having to find extra energy for my home.
What has surprised you the most about motherhood
I went into motherhood without expectations. However motherhood has taught me the true meaning of love. To love a child really is the way love is to be.
How do you relax? What do you do for me time?
When I want to relax, I’m always in a quite space. No t.v, sounds or noise. Tea or wine is usually involved, and aromatherapy bath at night.
What is one thing that shouldn’t be missen from every home?
A quiet space to just be.
What makes #LagosMums special?
LagosMums is a really special community that gives virtual hugs to all mums that need one. Welldone!