A woman of many parts, Ifu Ennada is a multiple awards winner, businesswoman, content creator, producer, actor, and reality TV star.
In 2018, she founded beautIFU Ennada, a beauty brand that currently focuses on skincare, hair care and caters to black women. Admired for her consistency and resilience, she is constantly inspiring countless women with her work and life. She recently launched a collection of pre-stretched hair extensions that make braiding and hairstyling hassle-free by solving time and money wastage problems. She plans to use her life experiences and lessons to help other women.
In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about transitioning from a reality TV show star into a businesswoman, growing a sustainable career, and helping young women to break into, survive and eke out a living in the entertainment industry, amongst other issues.
Reality TV star, actor, beauty mogul, entrepreneur, and many other roles you have played successfully in the last few years. Tell us what the journey has been so far?
THE journey has been filled with ups and downs regardless of how easy it looks to outsiders. I would be a liar if I say it has been a bed of roses. Just yesterday, I launched my line of innovative pre-stretched hair attachments which I call beautIFU Hair and lots of congratulatory messages and support came in. Looking at it all, I must say that when it gets hard, these kind words and support from people keep me going. In all, I’m grateful to God for everything. For every time it looked like I failed, I learned a lesson. God has been my hope and advantage in everything I do.
Since leaving the BB house, you have become a household name, what would you say has been your staying power?
I would say consistency has been a huge contributing factor to my staying power. The fact is that I’m always doing something productive, whether it’s with my business or my dealings in the entertainment industry. I am never idle and that’s one thing my followers and fans will freely tell anyone who cares to listen. I’ve had a lot of viral moments with my business because of the kind of solutions I give with my unique innovations. Everything I do, especially with my business, adds real value to countless lives and because of these, I am always remembered.
You said recently that you quit a business you started. Has this dampened your passion for entrepreneurship in any way?
I believe you’re referring to the time I rebranded my beautIFU Ennada Haircare line and announced this with a video that saw me crying and saying I was done with the old? This is the viral factor I talked about a moment ago. That clip at the beginning of the video, which I first shared before sharing the actual rebrand video, was just my way of getting attention. I did quit the old look, but I did not give up on beautIFU Ennada, it is alive and doing well.
As an active entrepreneur, what would you say have been the challenges you faced?
The struggles have been out of this world, especially with the recent pandemic. My business was affected and I lost a lot due to the sudden changes in the economy, especially because I have business dealings abroad. I became depressed, but in all these, I was able to discover a new source of income. I was inspired to create digital products, particularly for my beautIFU Skin Acne Solutions. I created a class and an eBook where I teach people how to understand and defeat acne for good. Acne has made many people waste money on products that don’t work because they fail to understand that skincare is not a one-size-fits-all and due to its nature and causes, something that worked for A might not work for B. Acne is something I faced and defeated myself after everything and all the experts failed me. I acquired knowledge myself and got rid of it. Acne has sent many into depression. This is still active via the beautIFU Skin platform and people can get access to my resources on beautifuskin.com. In all, I’d say that struggles and downtimes in business could inspire us to either create or discover very profitable solutions or new streams of income. It all depends on how your mind works and how you choose to see things.
How did you overcome these challenges?
First, it was by analysing and understanding my situation. I also took inventory of the tools available to me to see how they could be used to help other people to solve their problems. If you study my businesses, you’d see that each of them addresses a problem and gives a solution that works. Truth is, people are always happy to pay for something that adds value and helps them solve a problem.
To someone planning to change from being a reality TV show star to growing a sustainable career, what advice would you give?
I will advise the person to be ready to work very hard and smart. The hype that comes with being on a reality TV show is fleeting and if you don’t manage it well, you will be forgotten very quickly because every year, new stars are born. In fact, it looks like every other week a new talent is discovered now. People like to follow people that are recognised for something, so if the business is something you want to do, you need to show it. People need to see it; you need to show up all the time. People should think of you and tie something to your name–in this case, your career. You need to be good at what you do because this is how you can successfully affect the change and people will keep remembering you. You need to understand that there are no shortcuts. Being a reality TV star doesn’t translate to immediate or continuous success. If you don’t put in work, you will be quickly forgotten.
You have appeared in several notable movies and top TV series in recent times. Is this something you intend to do long-term?
My acting career has been blessed with notable awards. I am grateful for that. Being an actress is something that comes easy to me because I can easily fit into and play any character. This is why I took some time off to build my business, which is not a joke, at least to me. Acting is something I’ll always do when the script is good and the value is amazing as well.
How are you using your experience and voice to help other women, especially those that look up to you?
One thing I do, especially with social media, is to share my story with people. Oftentimes, people think that life is a bed or roses because some celebrities only show the good side of it, but I try to share my struggles- as much as I can afford to because I know in doing so I inspire and motivate people and help them understand that regardless of the struggles, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I want people, especially young girls to think of me and say because I did not give up, they won’t give up either. My ultimate goal is to inspire and raise as many people as I can through my work and story. I feel like my purpose here on earth is to give hope and touch lives. This is why I don’t hold back from sharing the good and the bad. I also do some charitable works and give financial support when I can afford to, but I prefer teaching people how to fish and letting then know that success is very attainable regardless of one’s poor background. I want young girls to know that they can be successful without having to sleep with men for money or compromise their values. I want my life to be an example of this.
There will certainly be pressure on you from friends and fans to live like a celebrity, having achieved fame in a TV reality show. How do you handle this?
Recently I had to unfollow a lot of pages on Instagram just to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on myself from looking at things on my timeline and unconsciously judging myself based on what I see. Pressure doesn’t only come from friends or fans; it can also come from you. One way I handle it is what I previously stated. I also just generally avoid anything that’s not good for me. Unrealistic expectations can be detrimental to one’s mental health and I can’t afford to hurt my mental health.
The entertainment industry can be a tough one, especially for young girls seeking to break into it. What would you tell them to do or avoid?
The entertainment industry is much like any other industry with regard to breaking into an industry and succeeding in it. I think it’d help to study successful people there, get close to them if you can, and find out what worked for them. Filter and modify it and apply to yourself. Really, nothing good comes easy. If good things come easy, everyone would be successful. One thing I also want to say is to involve God in everything you do. It’s also important to not do anything that’s against your belief in God. For example, sleeping with directors or producers for roles, because if it’s God’s will, you will get what you’re looking for without having to rubbish your values. Put the work in and have faith.
Tell us exactly how you are changing lives with your products as you said?
My skincare line is less than a year old, but it has done quite well and is gaining grounds amongst my followers who have turned customers. I created products with ingredients derived from nature because there are a lot of harsh chemical-laden products in the market that has destroyed the skin of many people. My skin brand encourages women to understand and love their natural skin tone, it is an advocate against skin bleaching and so far, we have gotten so much positive feedbacks and testimonials. People can access my products via shopbeautifu.com. My haircare brand will be three years old in a few day’s time and so far, we have done quite well. Whenever celebrities ask their followers for haircare products recommendations, I would like my customers and fans that follow them to tag my business page and encourage them to use my brand. That’s a sign that we know what we’re doing. I recently launched beautIFU Hair, my line of pre-stretched tangle-free hair attachments. I call them E’Zee Braids because they solve the time wastage problem that comes with cutting, pulling, and combing hair extensions first before use. I always put myself in the shoes of my customers to understand what they need and want, and I would go all out to deliver them. I’m also presently working on launching my beauty studio, which has been in the works for a while. The major challenge I have is getting the right staff but once we get the right people, we will open it to the public.
Looking back, do you have any regrets or wished you had done things differently?
Sincerely, I have no regrets. Everything has been a learning curve for me, whether it was a good or bad experience.
How best can we help more women to own businesses/startups especially at these difficult times?
One advice I can give is “invest in yourself”. Don’t limit yourself to what you know. If you must grow, you must constantly seek knowledge because the scene is always changing and there is always competition. Take relevant courses when you can and take action so you’re not left behind.
What changes would you like to see happen for Nigerian women in the next five years?
I would love to see more successful female entrepreneurs. I’d love to see society respect women more. These days when a woman buys a house or a car, most give glory to an imaginary sugar daddy, this is because women are very underrated by these people. This has to change. I’d also want the government to work out ways to give women in business an edge that sees them fly high and excel.
What final words do you want to leave with readers?
So many things come to mind, but if there’s one thing I must say is to always believe in oneself, to understand that it’s okay to fail because failure only makes us better, and to know that nothing is impossible with God. This is the meaning of Ifu Ennada. If I can make it, you can.