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How Suffering Acne For 20 Yrs Made Me Go Into Fashion & Skincare Biz – Sandra Adeyinka, CEO Zsandy Exquisite Place

Sandra Adeyinka is a serial entrepreneur and a nurse in Dublin, Ireland. She has been running her brand, Zsandy Exquisite Place for 20 years and has grown the business in such a big way. In this interview with INFOONLINENEWS, she shared some of her secrets as well as how to stay relevant in the fashion and skincare businesses.

Below are excerpts, enjoy.

Congratulations on your birthday and the successful running of your fashion outfit. Tell us about yourself.

Thank you so much, I am Mrs Sandra Adeyinka. I am a mother of 3 lovely children. I'm originally from the East, Abia state precisely but I'm married to a Yoruba man, an Ekiti man which makes me a dual citizen of Nigeria. Am a graduate of English at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). I'm a Nurse and Health Care personnel by profession but more interested in business. I'm into fashion and anything that involves women like skincare, spa, health care, outfit and many more are my areas of specialization for the moment. I'm more focused on my passion in other to bring a new dimension to the fashion industry in terms of quality things for people; my findings in the last few years’ review are that lots of women appreciate quality things. They love luxury things that are original and I love fashion and I love to wear nice things, this made me go the extra mile to meet the needs of my clients and women who love to get value for their money. That is wearing luxury at an affordable price that is my mission, for instance, I sell Italian bags and shoes, I sell them in different grades, and they are all original and made in Italy. I travel down to Italian and do the shopping myself, I meet with the people behind this designer luxury, they are my partners and we agree to deliver what everyone can afford on a different dimension. So it is left for the client to make their decision on their request. These are what I do and my areas of interest is to bring luxury fashion that people can afford, quality, original and beautiful stuff for my women without them breaking the bank.

As a trained Nurse, what inspired you into the fashion business?

First of all, I was born into a family of fashion. My mummy owns one of the biggest fashion stores in the East. She is deeply into fashion and I will say, it’s inborn and we have been doing fashion from childhood. Back then, she used to travel around the world in her own time and she runs several boutiques in Umuahia and Aba, I'm talking of a known luxury boutique and in those days they call her Madam London because she used to tour from London to Italy and so on, just like what I am doing now. When I look at myself, I see my mum in me and what she did in her own time. Then when we are going out, we used to look our best even if it is not that expensive, but they are things you can’t see anywhere. That was how we grow up and I followed it up. It had been my trademark to keep it going and it has not stopped. You know when you do something personal for yourself, I love to wear good stuff and at that stage, I decided to share my love for fashion with other women, I want people to feel the fashion sense that I felt in my childhood and bring it to the world, to make sure they get the best that was how it all started.

How long have you been in the fashion industry?

I will answer it in two ways. Unprofessional have been in fashion since I was a teenager. During my school days, I was into pageants and fashion shows. We organize lots of fashion shows at the college before professionalism (Laugh….). Talking professionally, I've been in the fashion business for over 20 years.  I was in and out of the industry. I started with the selling of goods in my car booth whenever I return from aboard. I had customers in the various offices; banks and I had students who buy from me, I remember whenever I travelled then, my friends used to send me a list of what they needed and I will shop for them. I run my mobile shop for some time before renting a store. Also, 10 years ago I open a fashion store in Ekiti state. It was a recap of what we have here, an exquisite place talk of fabrics, shoes, bags and luxury fashion items. So fashion business is not something I just started or woke up to, rather it's something I have been doing right from my college days.

You started your fashion business with a mobile shop; share with us your first 3 years of experience?

Hmmm, my first 3 years were not an easy ride, to be honest. The reason is that I live between 2 countries. I live abroad and in Nigeria, I have my kids over there and my business here. It's not easy to run a business freely because it needs one's presence and concentration. Sometimes when I rush into the country to sell my goods by the time I'm going back, some of my clients won't be able to pay me due to my short stay and this makes it difficult when one is starting a new business. And from my experience, one should not expect much when starting or growing one's business because during this period one can build the brand, introduce and make people trust the product and service you are offering them. For instance, one of my clients way back recently, visited my store and she was telling me of a particular shoe she bought from me 15 years ago, that people still ask her where she bought the shoe, this and many other testimonies that we hear from our clients keep us going. I'm not praising myself rather I'm being honest. I don’t have a particular store where I shop rather I hand-pick some of the shoes and bags when I travel. For example, if I travel to Germany, I look out for shops and if I see what I like, I pick it. And the secret is that I like to sell things that are not common and my customers are like, if you buy stuff from Sandra forget it, it’s not something you see everywhere. It is so because I love to wear things that are not common, what I wear is what I see and this had been my trademark years ago. In all businesses, the starting point is not always easy but it’s an introductory time, a time to announce oneself to people and make them trust us that we can deliver. It’s also a time we build our relationship with our clients. 20 years down the lane, it will interest you to know that I still have some clients that have been coming with me since I started the business and still shop with me and refer their friends to me. Again when one is starting, they shouldn’t expect more. In my case, I didn’t make much profit in my first few years, it was more like a giveaway time for me, there was not much profit but I try to build my empire and today am happy where we are. I've been able to announce Zsandy Exquisite place to the world.  

How were you able to cope with the challenges in the last 20 years?

It has been God, at a stage family and my job came in and I have to shuttle between my family, my business and my job, it was not an easy task because I have to take care of the home front, our children were still growing and my job over there was demanding. There are times I will rush in and in the next minutes am on board. It was not easy though I people around me running the business for me. But I will say with God on my side, things are falling in place, my kids are now grown up, and I now run a part-time job. And my business has it all, am ready to push my brand and let the world see what Zsandy Exquisite Place have for them.

Take us around your fashion world and how you manage them without any affecting each other?

 As I said earlier, Zsandy Exquisites Place is a fashion empire that meets the needs of every woman. We are into sales of Fabrics, quality Italian shoes and bags, we are into skincare and healthcare services, we run a spa, we are mostly concerned with women and their luxury look. We didn’t do everything at once, it was a gradual process. I started with the fashion store and we have grown it to where it is today. After I settled with fashion, I moved to skincare because of my profession as a nurse and health care person, I bagged a degree in Skin nutrition and did lots of training and courses on skincare. Because I had bad skin, I suffer acne for almost 20 years, my face was full of pimples and I spent lots of money on cream, I visited doctors in a bid to find a solution to my skin issue but no result. I did lots of things but one day I said to myself that I was going to learn more about skincare and find a solution to my acne issue. Why I took the decision I was not planning to run it as a business or make money from it, I underwent the training to find out what was wrong with me and the causes of the bad skin. I started making research in Dublin and Ireland. I did a course on cosmetology, and it was then I discovered what happened to my skin and that the cause of my skin issue has to do with my hormone. So I started balancing my hormone. I also did a course on diet as per what a woman can eat and what they can’t eat in other to maintain good skin. Aside from that, I also know about health issues, fertility and how a woman can balance their body. After learning and solving my skin issue, I said to myself I was going to help others who are having issues with their skin. So I started with family, my sisters, and friends having skin issues that it can be dealt with because many women that when they are on period, pimples will come out of their face and am aware that body systems do change but there are some do’s and don’ts we need to know regarding having healthy skin. Gradually I said to myself, it was time to open up to the world and introduce my skincare treatment to them and that is how we start Exquisiteplace Wellness Spa also known as Aromatherapy Beauty Spa. At the Spa, we use our product to tackle any skin issue our client might have, I also have a specialist that works with me, I mean dermatology it’s not something I do alone, I have a backup that works with me. With the help of God and my team, I have been able to manage the brand.

How did you come about the name Zsandy Exquisite Place?

The name Zsandy is from my name Sandra and I've always been an exquisite person if you know what I mean, I have taste and I love exquisite things, I love luxury and things around me to look nice. So while meditating on the name, myself and my kids, mostly my firstborn who is an undergraduate of medicine and her sister, are both with me in the business, it’s a family business. We brainstormed together and they said mummy you are very exquisite with things that I should add exquisite to Zsandy. That was how we came about the name Zsandy Exquisite Place.

As a mother of 3, what is the secret behind your youthful look?

Thank you very much; I will attribute it to the grace I enjoy from God. I'm a believer and I believe so much in God and what he can do. I stress myself a lot but I don’t look like the stress I pass through regarding my business. Sometimes I could be in three different countries in a week; I hardly eat though I try to balance my diet. Sometimes I eat once a day but in between, I take fruits and water in other to keep the energy. I also use the right product on my skin and my sunscreen is another little secret of my look. As a skincare and health care expert, I eat the right things, get enough rest, for instance, if I'm travelling on the train, I don’t stay up, I make sure I get asleep and if am on a plane I don’t eat, instead, I sleep and put don’t disturb sign because once I get to my destination, I want to keep going. So my beauty routine involves, having enough sleep, eating good food, drinking enough water and using the right skin products on my skin. It is very important to use good skin products, including others to keep one glowing. Also exercising the body, if one can't go to the gym, then take a walk regularly because it helps to keep the body fit. I will also advise that we all use sunscreen as it is good for the skin and important for everybody. It is one of the beauty secrets that most people don't know; especially in Nigeria. In Europe, people use sunscreen to protect their skin from the environment during summer due to the hot weather. These are my little secrets to beauty and glowing.

As a skincare expert, how does one maintain glowing skin irrespective of their complexion?

Very simple, one can keep her skin glowing irrespective of their complexion when they use the right products. But most people today use all kinds of products on their skin. As a dark-complexioned person, one can look after his or her skin and make it glow. I do admire dark people like you who after their skin. And some people believe that it is only fair people who should look after their skin but it's not true. In my spa, we have lots of dark skin clients who come around to polish their skin. One can be dark and still glow, we don't need to bleach our skin. But our people don't know the difference between a fair person and someone that bleaches. I work with lots of white people as friends and colleagues; they tone their skin. Did you know many dark people can also tone their skin in a dark shade? Let me use this medium to say this, let us stop using harsh products, and chemicals on our skin, it causes lots of damage to the body and the skin. Also, health-wise, watch what you eat and exercise because the exercise you do has an impact on how your skin will glow.

You have been married for years and your union is blessed with 3 kids, share with us the secret of your successful marriage, especially to an Ekiti Man?

Wow, I will attribute the success behind my marriage to God and my lovely husband. I am married to a caring and supportive man, am not saying this because I want to say it but the fact is that am blessed to be his wife. He is my number 1 fan, he had supported me financially, spiritually, morally, physically and in all aspects. He encourages and pushes me to do a lot of things regarding my business. I'm happy I married my friend, he knows me and knows what I want. He does not restrict me nor stop me rather he encourages me in our capacity. He taught me how to do things at the right time. He had always been there for me and the kids. Despite his tight schedule, he is always there to cover up for me and look for a way around the issue and he will get results. You see, one of the secrets of a successful businesswoman or man is to have a supportive partner, such business will grow. He does not behave like a typical Nigerian man, he reasons like a white man. His support has made me move this far.

As a health care expert, fashion stylist and entrepreneur, a word of advice to youth out there who look up to you as their role model?

This is a question I love to answer because, in my home church, I am into the youth ministry. I have a passion for them and we have lots of plans coming up for the youths soon. I have lots of young girls, that are my friends, some of them are my children's mates, I am very close to my kids and I talk to them and learn from them. At every opportunity that I have, I use it to advise the young ones and I will use this medium to reach out to them again. As youths they need to be patient and not be in a rush, Rome was never built in a day. They want to be this or that, it takes time and hard work. When I read or hear what is happening, my heart bleeds. Each time the young girls come to visit and see my store, they always say "Oh My God" but I always tell them, that what you are seeing is a process and it took me years before I got here. Our youths should know that before you climb up, you must fall and when you fall, you go back and climb again. So let us all wait for our time, be patient and keep pushing we will get there. As I said earlier, Zsandy Exquisite didn't just become a brand, I started by selling inside the car, probably then some people were laughing at me but today it has become history. We should try and save and give our account a good record. I am involved in all businesses, I'm into a spa business, I run a boutique, I'm into skincare, I'm also into frozen food and we have a cold room and we are also into sales of water. In a nutshell, Zsandy house comprises of different businesses and hardly is there a day, we don't make sales. That is how to grow in business, we don't need to wait overnight for magic that will put us into trouble. My advice to them is to be patient. For those in college, let's face our studies and get busy with one business or the other. No business is too small to start with. I'm a graduate of English at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and as a woman, we need to be educated even if we are into or going into business so that we can get enough access and connect with the right people; along the line, things will improve. Finally, let's have faith and patience we will surely get there.

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