HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME ANTIDOTE STREET?
I am smiling because I remember this day so clearly. My fellow co-founders (Seun and Kamil) and I were at one of our fave haunts, where we had a lot of our early meetings, spit balling lots of ideas. We wanted to convey this idea of bringing the much-needed solution to frustrating or long-winded challenges involved with finding the right hair care products for afro and multi-textured hair.
The word, ‘Antidote’ literally means something that works against an unwanted condition to make it better. We visualised this digital street, buzzing and packed full of amazing hair products targeting black women but also had the personal touch and customer service of a market. You know how your butcher knows exactly what cut of beef you like?
It was (and still is) about changing the status quo. Providing relevant access. Providing much needed education.
WHAT PART DOES ANTIDOTE STREET PLAY IN OUR WORLD?
Representation & Enterprise. I am very much of the world view that if you don’t see the change you want in the world, you take the reins and CREATE IT! In addition to fundamentally changing the way black women shop for their hair products, I am very passionate about growing the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs. I remember going to a popular hair show years ago and as soon as I got over the shock of being offered bleaching cream, I was further surprised to realise that none of the large brands were owned by black women. Of course, where a person is from should not dictate their business but for multi-billion dollar market where black women spend 5 x more than their counterparts, I expected to see a slightly different equation. I am interested in changing this, not just in the business we are building but in the leaders we raise along the way.
PS: we are hiring. If you would like to be part of our journey, get in touch on email@example.com
PPS: I also like reviewing CVs so if anyone needs any help, ping me!
WHAT ARE YOUR EVERYDAY HAIR ESSENTIALS?
I wash my hair every week with any shampoo from the Giovanni range and then deep condition - Dizziak is my current fave. I then let my hair air dry a bit before adding Eight Leave In (makes it extra fluffy) and sealing in the moisture with MIA Moisture Therapy Oil.
IF YOU WERE GIVEN £100 MILLION TO ONLY SPEND ON ART, WHICH 3 PIECES WOULD YOU BUY INSTANTLY (AND WHY)?
This is a hard question because I definitely won't choose just 3. Are you kidding?! I would build a museum in my hometown and curate an entire show but since you constrain me to 3, it would have to be these 3 artists:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby. I think I first came across her work in 2012 when I was writing my art blog. Her work was instantly familiar in a way that I could never quite put in words. Siri Hustvedt speaks of how art can help you recognise something in of your own experience which you couldn't have otherwise and I think she is right. I suppose that’s exactly how I feel whenever I see her work.
Ndidi Emiefele. I first spotted in Nike Art Gallery in Lagos and I really wish I had gotten in there early. Her works are vibrant and cheeky.
Victor Ehikhamenor. He is good friend and I don't think I will ever tire of his work. His story telling about Uwessan women, Aba Women riots, and his dedication for the arts, new Lagos space are all things that inspire me.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
My Dad. The more I learn about him, the more I am impressed. He is bold, hardworking and built an amazing life from nothing. I once asked him what made him successful and he said he had a real interest in his work and took it seriously. I try to apply the same principle in everything I do.
WHAT BEHAVIOUR OR CHARACTER TRAIT DO YOU MOST ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS TO AND WHY?
Energy. I’m here for it. ALL OF IT :-)
WHERE ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM?
Aba. A commercial city of traders, entrepreneurs and artisans in the south east of Nigeria. There is a bit of an ongoing joke about the archetypal Aba trader but these guys are impressive and know their craft.
WHAT ROLE DOES FASHION PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
It's a mode of expression for me. When I started my career, I had to wear suits and I found it so stifling. Now, my hair is a sunny shade of gold and my wardrobe is akin to a peacock. It feels like home.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE JAM OF ALL TIME (AND WHY)?
Omg! Music is a big part of my life. I have too many and you would often find me sharing on IG stories. We are launching this thing called The Deep Conditioning Dance party on @Antidotestreet. Every Sunday evening, we have someone take over our insta-stories to share their deep conditioning routine + favourite tracks.
I love Lauryn Hill’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, The Roots You Got Me and Bob Marley’s Satisfy My Soul. Harry Belafonte’s Coconut Woman always makes me giggle.
Oh man it feels unjust to choose as I am forgetting some on the spot.
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CAREER IN TECH?
After completing my degree in Management & Information Technology, I started professional life as a management consultant and would later go on to hone my craft in the e-commerce world, working for companies such as Net-a-porter, ASOS as well as advising luxury retail clients.
WHAT TRUTH, IDEAS OR OPINION ARE YOU ALWAYS SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS?
The role of women and their equitable participation, reward and recognition in business, in society, in politics, in art, in film, EVERYWHERE!
WHO/ WHAT DO YOU CELEBRATE?
Every woman who has dreamed up and created an amazing hair care brand that they wished existed. They are singlehandedly re-imagining this industry. I think we are in an unprecedented moment in black beauty and I am so excited to be a part of their journey.