‘There is never a right time to launch a business, you just have to go for it’

Prepare to meet Zeze Oriaikhi, a successful female entrepreneur. Nigerian-born Zeze saw a gap in the market for sustainable, environmentally friendly African cosmetics in the UK. She dived in, started her own company and Malee Natural Science was born.  

We caught up with Zeze to find out a little more about her luxury fragrance and body care products that are all made with natural ingredients. It sounds like the dream job, and after reading this you’ll want to start your own company too.

Image Credit: Zeze Oriaikhi

Image Credit: Zeze Oriaikhi

1. How did you come about starting your own company?

Starting Malée was born out of circumstance. I had just moved to South Africa in 2009 from London. Apart from the challenges of moving countries to start life in a new place, the recession and the hiring freeze were in full effect.

Add in the change in climate, my skin going crazy and realising that my skin needed more, much more than the products I had used for years where able to give.

I always had the desire to create my own range of products, what story they would tell was never clear. I have always had a passion for the industry as a consumer; fragrance, bath and body care products, skincare, makeup you name it (the polite way of saying junkie) and even had a business plan from business school for a range of products.

So with the extra time hoping the recession would pass and realising that getting a job wouldn’t happen as soon as I thought, I sought to put all my spare time to work. Dusting off that marketing project business plan I started to execute.

Inspired by living in a new part of Africa, I was for the first time experiencing and living moments in untouched natural landscapes that I was moved by. I would find myself drawing similarities with other African countries I had visited or discovering how unique certain places, scents or traditions are.

And just like that I found that there was a unique story to tell in scent and ingredients that drew from my African heritage as well as this new landscape and experiences I was having in what was now my new home


2. What would your advice be to aspiring entrepreneurs?

There will never be a perfect time, just do it like Nike and remember that all great things were not built in a day.

3. Do you think people are either business-minded or they aren’t?

I think that there are visionaries and there are good executors. Finding out which one you are and building the right team to compliment your strengths is so important.

4. Why did you decide to launch your company here in the UK?

Malée had started to gain good success in South Africa and on the African continent. We exhibited at our first UK trade show in 2012 and realised that we weren’t just sharing something that would only speak to the African continent but the world as our customer base was starting to grow and come from all over the world. All the way from Johannesburg this small brand I had created and worked on from my dining table was now growing. Growing further than I could have imagined. The interest from the industry was very encouraging and as they say the rest is history. My team and I are still walking that journey to officially launch in the next few weeks in the UK.

5. What inspires you?

Everything: travel, scent, nature, music, art and people.