Leslie is a wife and mother of two young children with a Masters degree in Marketing & Management from the University of Bradford, UK. She is also an alumni of Howard University, Washington DC and Atlantic Hall Secondary School, Lagos. Prior to setting up L’Okoye Cosmetics, Leslie was a research consultant for the African Development Bank, Tunisia.
Tell Us About CookieSkin
CookieSkin® is on a quest to change the concept/idea/meaning of ‘good skin’ amongst women with skin of color. We believe that no matter your origin or complexion you can and should have CookieSkin. To make this possible we’ve introduced a more holistic method of skincare for women of color to age gracefully.
CookieSkin® has created the Dermal Repair line to address the many skin care issues the individual Asian, Bi-Racial, African, African-American, Latina and multi-cultural woman faces in today’s ever stressful and busy world.To have CookieSkin is not only to embody the qualities of a ‘Cookie’ internally but to project it externally through your beautiful irresistible skin.
At CookieSkin we believe in feeding your skin the best essential ingredients. CookieSkin ® is a preventative and corrective skin care line made with superior active ingredients that nourishes the skin for an irresistible fresher, younger, radiant looking skin.
The difference between problem skin and fresh, flawless, youthful skin is in the ingredients you use. Made with superior active ingredients, our formulas are proven to improve skin texture, tone and regeneration.
What was your inspiration to start CookieSkin?
I ventured into skin care after being frustrated having to combine creams to achieve flawless skin, and also having to help do the same for my friends. I really just wanted to simplify skin care for the African woman, and thus decided to start my own line of holistic skin care products for women of color. I wanted to embody ‘freshness’ and ‘health’ into my products because I would always notice girls with the prettiest skin, and to me great flawless skin makes any woman beautiful. That is how CookieSkin came about.
What are some of the primary challenges you face running your business, and have you been able to overcome them ?
My main challenge is supply, the Nigerian environment really works against manufacturing for small business. Also, laws and policies regarding importation are still being developed, which means problems with importation and clearing. It’s an on going battle but I’m sure I’ll find a system that works best for me to meet demand.
Did you have to convince your friends about your business working ?
I didn’t have to convince my friends – those that knew me before I started Cookie Skin, knew about my deep interest in Skin Care and Wellness. I’ve always been the ‘go to’ person amongst my friends when it comes to skin care.
Why do you think most people quit their business dream ?
There are three main reasons – Lack of knowledge of the business from all angles, No real passion, Lack of mentors and a good team.
Have you ever been on the verge of quitting, and how did you get out of it?
Never. I don’t quit, ever. My advice – if you think you want to quit, just step back, stop all efforts, watch, listen and learn; seek answers; re-evaluate the situation and then decide your next move.
If you had to start all over again, would you do anything different?
Right now I wouldn’t do anything different. But I started again a year after I launched the business. I had to change my entire business operations to meet consumer expectations. So what I did differently was to listen to my target audience, getting to know them and what they want.
What excites you the most about your business ?
The ability to create ideas that communicates my vision, and changes a mindset towards a better life experience.
We know youre a mommy Mogul. How do you balance business, speaking engagements, and Mommy Hood ?
I get this question a lot and the real balance happened a week after giving birth to my second child. My mom doesn’t realize how much of an influence she is in my life, but I’ll never forget the morning I came downstairs by 8am to get some tea. My son was sleeping in his crib in my mom’s room and she wasn’t here. Seeing as the room was tidy, and the bed made, I assumed she had gone out to the pharmacy, since she had been ill. I walked into the kitchen to find my mom sweeping the kitchen, fully dressed like she was ready for a boardroom meeting. Sitting on the table was cooked food enough to feed twenty people. I asked who she was expecting and she said ‘I’m just prepared so that you, your sister and Dad’s homes can have food.She asked me to take food to my husband and I scowled at her saying, “I’m the one that just gave birth, I’m tired, he can do it himself.” I later took it to him though. The point of the story is, I was complaining already, feeling like it was too much to handle – until I looked at my mom who was very ill, yet slept with my baby, woke up early, showered, put on make up, got dressed, cooked for three homes, cleaned up the house and didn’t complain one bit. She even drove to the two homes to deliver the food. She understood that it needed to be done – it’s her commitment to the people in her life, and if she doesn’t do it, it won’t happen magically or by wishful thinking.
It was that very morning that my mind-set changed and so did my life. I totally stopped making excuses, I fell in line and soldiered up. My point it, life gets difficult, but since its the life I made and chose, I have to make it work. To balance things in life you have to have a goal, and know what you want out of life – then you will make the right choices and wakeup everyday without saying you are tired. I live on purpose, so I have the energy for it all, by His grace.
What does your family think about your business ?
My family has been very supportive from day one. In the beginning I had to convince them a little, but now they know I’m heading to the top. My parents, sisters, husband and other family are all very supportive and always helping out however possible.
What’s your typical day ?
My mornings are the same – Meditate, prepare and see the kids and hubby off to their day, tea and emails, office, family time, workout, dinner.
What is your vision for your business in the next 5 years?
Global expansion! The mission is for the L’Okoye brands to become household names in every home of African descent worldwide. And while that is in effect, L’Okoye Cosmetics Inc. will redefine the meaning of ‘beauty’ amongst men and women of color through its skin care brands.
What are your biggest strengths?
I believe my biggest strengths are patience, tolerance, self-confidence, and positivity. All of which I get from my parents. If there’s something I’m passionate about, I will do it, even if I’m afraid.
Are you happy ? What does Happiness mean to you ?
Yes I am happy. Gosh this is a good question. Happiness for me is a state of being when my vision for my life or achievements aligns with my current reality. Happiness is a feeling best experienced when one can share the moment with someone, because it involves an element of love and gratitude. So, I may have some down days, but I am very happy for I know how blessed I am to have people in my life I can count on and share my life and joy with.
What are some of the things you do to ‘de-stress’?
To de-stress I workout at the gym and get massages. But when I’m really stressed take a 3 day weekend, meaning Mondays is a stay at home day where I can be alone, relax, clear my mind, and refocus. And if it gets really bad, I take a vacation. I thrive in relaxed environments, I cant have constant noise, disturbance or lack of order.
If I checked out your playlist, tell me 3 songs that have the most Plays, and is there a reason why ?
You’ll find David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Drake. I love all kinds of music, but they have to be great to make my playlist. I’m also careful about the words I hear on a daily basis, I think people don’t realize how one’s mood can be affected by what you hear, believe and speak. So dance music is a feel good genre and it just inspires creativity. While I love rap and I love the creativity that comes with the lyrics, delivery plus matching it to the right beat. Plus a lot of what Drake sings about is very now, and his music tends to motivate and put me in hustle mode.
Tell me 3 things that people don’t necessarily know about you?
I’m shy and have terrible stage fright, but I’m working on it. I really don’t like salads, vegetables and fruits, I just eat them because I have to. And I served people for a good five years of my life as a waitress.
Have you had any ‘Turning point’ in your life
Yes, most people cannot imagine me being unhealthy or over weight, but at a point in my life, I was in extremely poor health. I would joke that I was a skinny fat person because I ate so much and I ate all the bad foods, I never ate any fruit or vegetable.
At age 19 living in Washington D.C, I had a terrible health scare where the doctor told me if I didn’t change my eating habits, I would most likely die from a heart attack by age 30. My BMI was high and I was told my body was made up of 45% fat – to which I responded by saying “well, if its not fried or dripping in oil, I wont eat it.” Two doctors sat me down and it was the concern and fear in their eyes that scared me, they looked at me like I was one fried chicken away from my grave. They asked me if i felt tired often, which I confirmed. In addition, I had difficulty breathing, cellulite all over my hips and thighs, and I also suffered mild sleep apnea.
From that very day, I changed my lifestyle, making small changes each week to become healthier. I learned all I could about food, health, fitness and supplements and changed my relationship with food. Now, I eat to live instead of living to eat.
Do you watch any TV series ? What’s your favorite one ?
My favorite TV series, changes as they come. For now, I’m addicted to House of Cards, it my favorite. I also love Billions, The Good Wife and Empire.
What was the last book or material you read?
In the past two year’s I’ve been too busy to read a book. I read the Harvard Business Review, the most recent issue I’ve read is ‘Marketing In The Age of Social Media’ and ‘The Softer Side of Negotiation’
Mention 3 people that inspire you ?
My Mom, because she’s the first ‘superwoman’ I knew. Coco Chanel, she was a master in brand building, understanding the importance of staying relevant through innovation, creativity and design. And the third person who inspires me is Oprah Winfrey, she made it against all the odds and negative circumstances of her life and environment.
Give me one of your favorite quotes and what it means to you.
“Je pense, donc je suis” by René Descartes. It mean “I think, therefore I am.” This quote practically shaped my belief that I can be whom ever I want to be today and something else tomorrow. Basically I got to see that humans are created with the power to define themselves depending on how they viewed themselves and also depending on their world view.