We had the good fortune of connecting with Chinonye Akunne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chinonye, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Other than deciding to work for myself, the single most important decision I have made that has contributed to my success is being aware of the people I keep around me. From friends, mentors, and occasional acquaintances they all matter. I am self-aware enough that I do not know everything so having a strong tribe around me makes running and growing a business easier. I ask a lot of questions, ask for recommendations and join accelerator programs to ensure my knowledge base and leadership skills are always up to date.
What should our readers know about your business?
ILERA Apothecary is created to for people who want the highest quality ingredients for their skin without compromising the environment or their budget. Utilizing digital technology, we have created a highly interactive customer experience that includes virtual wellness events, informative blog posts, and curated pop-up shops. We are committed to making an impact on our customers, employees and local communities. This includes the people who handpick and produce our raw materials, our employees who manufacture products, and our customers who have found the solution to reviving their skin with ILERA Apothecary. This is what continues to differentiate our brand within the clean beauty industry. We want our customers to feel confident in their skin knowing they are using the best ingredient for their skin and the environment.
At ILERA Apothecary, we are most excited about the reach of the brand and entering new markets. We are releasing new products this summer to make our brand more accessible as well as a recycling program to protect our precious earth. Getting to this point has not been easy at all. Many sacrifices have been made and will continue to be made because the business and goals are mighty. I have been able to grow the business by staying educated. I’ve participated in accelerators, attend business workshops, have a few mentors and a coach. I love to learn and that keeps me agile and mentally ahead. My desire to constantly learn has also made me more in tune with myself to know when something is just not going to work out and I am comfortable and confident enough to remove myself immediately.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I currently live in Detroit, MI aka, the Motor City. The first place I would take them is the Detroit Riverwalk, recently named one of the best riverwalks in the country, we will bike it, then ride up Woodward Ave, and the first stop is at Detroit is the New Black, one of my favorite stores in the city. It’s a curated store filled with luxury designers and a New York feel, making it even more special, ILERA Apothecary is carried there. We’ll then walk across the street over to DOSE a store curated with all Detroit-based designers. After DOSE, we’ll grab a drink and light lunch at San Morello at the Shinola Hotel. While downtown, we’ll check out Playground Detroit for some eclectic art pieces. After an afternoon of shopping, we will visit the Detriot Institute of Art (DIA). I’ve visited museums in just about every city and country I’ve been to and the DIA is one the best curations I’ve experienced. After the DIA, we’ll grab dinner from Yumvillage, a West African/ Caribbean resturant. The next day, we will roam Midtown and check out some cool local shops there such as NORA, City Bird, and Flo’s Boutique. To satisfy a sweet tooth, we will get a bonbon from Bon Bon Bon. On the last day, we will check out the Mowtown Museum, learn about the start of modern music and the many musical legends that came from Detroit. We will finish the weekend at Baobab Fare, a new East African restaurant featuring dishes from Burundi.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Family over everything. My siblings deserve a major shoutout. My youngest brother is the inspiration of ILERA Apothecary (I created the company out of his personal need of needing vegan skincare products). My younger sister is the brains behind our branding. My older sister inspired our baby line when she was pregnant with my first niece and my other younger brother is always keeping me updated on the latest industry technology. My family is literally a major flex in my life.
Head shot- Morgan McDonald Group Photo- Jacob Frost Rose toner and Night Oil- Imani Aldridge Others- Kristina Graham