For some people, their job is a calling. And for former lawyer Ifeoma Okoye, this couldn’t be more true. “The business didn’t come from a single idea, so to speak. I’ve always loved and had a flair for makeup and event planning, so I knew that was what I wanted to do.” That calling became STM Magical Creations, a Nigerian business offering beauty make-overs, events and wedding planning and coordination services.
For women, by women
It’s perhaps not surprising that the founder of this female-oriented business credits her network of female friends, relatives and peers with helping her find success. “There are so many women who’ve supported me and inspired me – and who inspire me still,” says Ifeoma. “My mum has been my number one supporter, but I also have a network of 12 close girlfriends who I can rely on.” And that support was vital, especially in the early days when Ifeoma ran the business as a sideline to her demanding day job in the legal profession.
Then, in 2014, she quit corporate life to focus on her passion project, full-time. “I longed to run my own business and focus on my craft,” she reflects. The jump from the legal world to that of a creative entrepreneur was by no means risk-free. Like many startup founders, Ifeoma worried about funding, finding customers and scaling her business effectively. “Some of my fears came through a bit,” she admits. “I struggled with things like getting an office space and cashflow. But I started out working from home, and kept pushing hard and improving my skills.”
Ifeoma sought mentorship from a number of successful women in business who inspired her and who, as she puts it, “know what it takes to survive in my line of business – so who better to ask?”. Wisely seeking different mentors for different aspects of her business, Ifeoma was able to learn from the best in both beauty entrepreneurship and event planning. And, as she put what she learned into practice, STM Magical Creations blossomed.
A major turning point came when Ifeoma started to use social media seriously to promote her new business. “Facebook made marketing easy for me and I started to be noticed and seen,” she recalls. The clients started to roll in, which enabled Ifeoma to finally hire an office space of her own. This meant she finally had the foundations from which to start building and training a team that would be essential for scaling the business. “When you provide a service, you can only do so much on your own,” says Ifeoma. “I can’t run my business without reliable, knowledgeable manpower.”
Today, that team comprises 10 highly skilled, committed employees and Ifeoma hopes to take STM Magical Creations to a global market in the future. “I see the respect and trust people now have in my brand as a major achievement,” Ifeoma reflects. “It’s now a household name in my city when it comes to events and beauty. But I want to take it beyond Nigeria.”
Pushing for progress
Ifeoma is also active in giving back, sharing her own wisdom and experience with young women and budding female entrepreneurs through motivational talks at events and in schools and through subsidised training sessions on make-up artistry, event planning and business skills. The motivation behind Ifeoma’s passion for giving other women a helping hand is simple. “Women are striving to make a change in society. They’re pushing for progress, supporting each other and collaborating. Women are so versatile, they can turn their hand to anything you give them.”
Learn more about Ifeoma Okoye and STM Magical Creations: