Mrs. Tobi Ayodele-Keeney, one of the adorable children of the founder of Quincy Herbals, a skin care and natural health outfit, Dr. (Mrs.) Quincy Olasunmbo Ayodele, has officially taken over as the managing director.
Tobi, who received a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Baltimore, has promised to transform into world class the 23 years old family business with her background in biochemistry and knowledge in diagnostic and laboratory services.
Speaking to the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, recently at her Ikeja, Lagos office, Tobi, who has always been part of the company’s progress alongside her siblings, promises not to disappoint the family, especially her mother who she says believes in her competence to preserve the standard and even make the brand to compete favourably with the rapidly changing market preferences. Toby also shares the secrets behind Quincy Herbals triumphs, something about her own family, and her craving to put the family’s business on the world map. Excerpts…
Would you like to introduce yourself and your connection to Quincy Herbals?
I’m Tobi Ayodele-Keeney, the Managing Director of Quincy Herbals. Dr. (Mrs.) Quincy Ayodele, the founder, is my mother. That is how my connection to Quincy Herbals is all about.
Please, share your vision and mission at Quincy Herbals.
First of all, our mission is to get people more healthy and get people more beautiful. Our vision is to be the foremost organization in herbal practice for all natural skin care and health matters in the world.
When did you join Quincy Herbals?
I officially joined Quincy Herbals in 2010 when I came back to Nigeria from United States. I officially took over as the MD in 2018. It’s a family business and I’ve been part of running it for a very long time. My sister and I, when we joined the business, our aim was to rebrand.
How did the idea to take Quincy Herbals abroad come about?
The world is moving and evolving and we just have to follow the trend. In the past, we were doing just newspapers, television and radio which were traditional for advertising. That was about twenty years ago when there was no internet, no social media. So, we had to put things in place to get our brand on the digital world so that we could be recognized more locally and internationally. It’s very hard to be recognized abroad if people have not been seeing you. So, we did a lot of digital advertising. That’s what actually prepared us to decide that if we could do this digital media well, digital marketing and selling, then let’s take our products to the United States and do it in a way that the US people would accept them. So, we went there and met with some manufacturers and others. They prefer things that are made in America, so, we took our formula and ideas to them and we worked with them to have our products made for the American market. In 2016, we officially launched on Amazon.com. As of now, we have Amazon.com for US, for the UK, Germany and Japan. The main products that we have on Amazon.com are for natural weight loss and natural skin care.
The products that we developed for both local and international markets include Quincy Herbals tommy blasting tea, slimming garri, Detox Slim Max Belly Blaster Green Tea, SlimMax Tummy Blaster Herbal Tea, Tommy Blaster Combo Pack, All Natural Skin Lightening Powder Soap, Bright Plus Face Lotion, the body lotion and many more, including products that cure stretch marks.
We launched these products for both the international market and Nigerian markets because we don’t want to be known as a Nigerian brand alone. That’s why we are unique. We are known for making high quality products.
How affordable are the products?
Quincy Herbals products are affordable compared to other products of its kind. Our products are affordable for people who understand the value of natural. And compared to brands internally, our products are slightly cheaper because we have to also consider the Nigerian market.
Do you just sell products to people or you also care for them in a way?
Apart from selling natural health products, we are a natural health company. The aim of our business as I said earlier is to get people to look more beautiful and feel healthier. Because of this, we don’t just sell products to you; we also look at the health situation of the person we are selling to. For instance, if it is slimming, we have to look at what area that needs to be addressed to make that person slimmer. For us, it is an intuition. Why we have been around for a long time is because we are result-oriented. So, we do a lot of intuition. You cannot lose weight naturally without changing your lifestyle. Of course, you can lose weight without changing your lifestyle but it will not be healthy. And what we are all about is making sure that you lose weight and stay healthy. So, we do a lot of lifestyle and intuition programmes for that purpose.
Tell us about these intuition programmes.
We came up with two sessions. When we say don’t cook rice, no bread or spaghetti and beef, a lot of people would say oh, I don’t know what to cook.so, we end up cooking the food for them and teaching them how to cook. That was how we came up with Quincy’s Kitchen. With Quincy’s Kitchen we prepare for them healthy foods; any kind of food that they love, swallow, spicy, and so on; different types of delicious and healthy Nigerian foods that like. Apart from that, we discovered that Nigerians like swallow foods, everybody like rice. So, we decided to look at alternatives. There are many alternatives, though. And I’m against importing any food into Nigeria. We have enough lands to grow whatever we want. Nigeria should not be importing things like foods that we can grow here. So, we looked at what could we use for swallow and we came up with Archer. It tastes nice. You can eat it like normal poundo (pounded) yam without feeling starchy. This can be substituted permanently for the normal iyan or fufu and it makes you lose weight naturally. There is also Archer Rice. You can eat it up to the quantity you eat the normal rice and there won’t be side effects. It is made in Nigeria and is even cheaper. But here we still have to do a lot of education to remove our mindset from the imported stuff that they are feeding us from abroad and get us back to eating our indigenous foods.
What is the health benefit of using these products?
The health benefit of having an ideal body weight is what we should rather look at. People can be slim and be very unhealthy. If you have an ideal body weight for your height and your age, you would have a lower rate of developing sicknesses. So, we encourage people to start eating healthy. It is not really about not eating oil or what have you, it is what kind of oil you are eating. We love to eat like the white people, but these white people, their body is made of certain types of foods. Our own bodies are meant to be active not fat. Our bodies are not made for eating a lot of meat. So, we you are slimmer, you reduce the risk of having stroke, cancer, arthritis, sudden death, and others like that.
Your swallow foods, do they come in family size too?
We notice that when people are buying something for the first time, they first go for the small size. We realized that most people wanted to try this small size first to see if it’s the right thing for them. We have started with a half kilogramme and with time, we are going to come up with one kilo, two kilo, four kilo and so on.
Are you fulfilled taking over the running of the family business?
I’m just in my 30’s. I can’t say I’m fulfilled yet because I’m still very young. But if you ask me, I would say I’m satisfied where I am in terms of my involvement with the family business. I had worked in corporations before I decided to work for myself, and that was when I got married and started having children. I now plan my own schedules. I can now decide to work 20 hours in a day or work just ten minutes and go home.
Does your husband support your running your parents business?
He actually encouraged me to do this. So, I have his full support.
Was it your knowledge in the medical filed that prepared you for this task?
I would say yes, because I studied Biochemistry and Psychology. Then I had my Master’s to be a Nurse Practitioner which is an equivalent of a Doctor, not a consultant. Then, I worked in Counseling department, ICU and things like that, all in the United States.
Most Nigerian men would go for drugs that boost sexual performance. Is this part of products from Quincy Herbals since it’s about natural health and fitness?
Quincy Herbals is about natural health and fitness just as you have said. For instance, if people come to us for any type of health complaints, we may not turn them away. It is the same with male and female performance enhancement. Yes, we do have them. We are not just placing premium in advertising them because if we start doing that, it would take away our focus from the main products we are trying to make more popular. We’ve been producing the male and female performance boosters since inception. We were actually popular in the past with breast enhancement products, and that also came with the male version.
Apart from adding values to what your mother invented in the business, what other new innovations have you brought or bringing in as the new head?
First of all, we didn’t change anything from the ideas she brought into the business. Everything she left in place was considered perfect for us. As a matter of fact, we were always with her when she was developing those products and we were allowed to make our contributions. So, it was a collective effort, as it were. So, when I joined the company officially, I added more. The digital media advertising idea was brought by me and the Amazon idea. Getting us on the Oscar’s and the Grammy idea, I added it. All the products that we have now, she owns everything, all the idea and the elements, but I added the idea of putting them in the bottle to make it look more nice, presentable and international so it can be accepted anywhere in the world. Also, based on my background in biochemistry, I looked at how we can make it last in the shelves for years. So, nothing has been removed from the vision and mission of our mum.
How would you compare marketing your products in America to Nigeria?
When we are done with the American market that we had easy access to, then we start expanding to other parts of the world like South Africa, Europe and Korea which has a very big skin care industry. Natural health care business in America is a multibillion dollar industry. I know about the terrain in America. I’m a US citizen; I live there, so I know almost everything about America.
Tell us about the Quincy Herbals Easter promo underway.
Yes, we are already having our Easter Promo which is a way of having people to take advantage of our products and services. We do this almost every time. It is just to get people acquainted with everything that we offer. It has started and ends at the end of April.
When do you have time to relax?
I will relax when I’m old and unable to work (general laughter). Honestly, that’s why I love working for myself. In the morning, I spend an hour doing Yoga, stretching, catching up on the news, notifications from my social media platforms and checking my mail. I hang out with my kids, take them out. Whatever it is, I spend time with them. I don’t consider that as relaxing (laughs). For relaxation, I don’t think somebody should be relaxing when he or she is young and able. Time is money and we already spend a certain percentage of our life sleeping at night. So, what other relaxation is there to look for? As a young person, I’d rather one uses his life doing something that is productive. One can then relax at old age.