Having money is an essential part of running a business, and for many, this is a hard nut to crack. However, Susan cracked it, and perhaps, effortlessly. Her love for investing and perfumes led to what we now know as the Fragrance Merch. In this episode of #Moneyrise, she tells us about her childhood, starting her business, and how Rise helps in her journey to financial freedom. 

Hi Susan, can you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Oreoluwa Osinuga. I’m a sales manager, currently working in a wine and spirit company. I also run a personal perfume business and I live in Surulere, Lagos.

What was childhood like for you?

I’d say great. I’m from a family of four; my parents, myself, and my brother. I think we lived a very sheltered life while growing up, and one of the things I learnt from my mother was how to do business. She had a lot of businesses that she did, from rentals to ice blocks to popcorn. She also owned a provision store and watching her do these things was quite interesting. She also helped my brother and me to cultivate the habit of saving. So that always made me want something I could fall back on, like savings, in case anything went wrong. When I was in university and still collecting my allowance, I always made sure I left about ₦10,000 without touching it. I also did other things growing up. I sold novels when I was in secondary school. I also sold provisions like eggs and noodles at the university. Growing up was interesting. 

Did that in any way shape all the things you do today?

Yes. Yes, actually. While I began to build my capital through the different things I mentioned I did, I needed something solid to do. At the time, I wasn’t much of a spender; I needed a lot of convincing to buy something. I’d ask myself if it was something I really wanted or worth spending my money on. For me, perfumes were the one thing that I liked and could buy without being persuaded. And because I liked them personally, I knew selling them wouldn’t be difficult. I would do that from a place of likeness, as they brought me joy. When I started, I remember starting with perfume oils and a capital of about ₦10,000. Now, I invest even more in the business and have grown a lot since that time.

Interesting. Can you tell us more about the perfume business? What has the journey been like? 

The journey has been good, even though it’s a saturated market. While growing up, I realised I was more of a business person than a skills person. Skills here means crafts like makeup, sewing, and artistry. I started a makeup business, spending so much money on it, but it eventually failed. It was a total waste that my brother kept reminding me of it and making fun of me. Ultimately, it felt like I had just bought the makeup items for myself. I didn’t get it right, which made me feel downcasted. I felt like people were doing and getting it right, so why wasn’t I? Why was I so horrible at it? 

Oh, this is really sad.

Yes, it was. But then I figured my calling could probably be buying and selling, not doing handwork or being creative. That inspired my journey, in addition to the fact that I love to smell nice. It was something that I liked and thought would be easy to sell to people. When I started, it wasn’t a lot. I started very small, with my family and friends supporting me.

I also remember starting on Twitter, where I had people glued to the business; they supported me and made referrals. It’s been amazing. I mean, I have gotten a lot of clients, sales, and contacts from the business. I’m probably not the whole creative type of person. You know how you create a perfume Instagram page, making it all attractive and coming up with creative ideas for it? That’s not where my business is yet. But in terms of sales and profits, I know how much I make, even though it might not be so loud to everyone. I’ve also been able to retain customers. Many returning customers tried me out at first, were impressed by my services, and decided to come back again. These people have been with me for years, including those that have left the country.

Speaking of, you mentioned working in sales. How do you navigate that as a woman?

My personal experience as a woman in sales is that you get more help when you are a lady. I worked in the open market and I had distributors that helped me achieve my target because they saw me as their daughter. My petite stature also made them listen to my persuasion more, which I leveraged by going to meet them with a childish look that screamed “help me”

In terms of any form of harassment, if you are in sales, you always have to find a way to tactically manoeuvre it.

Must be really hard

Absolutely. Navigating sales is so much work, especially as a woman. You have to be friendly, even if it means pretending. Fake smiling is also quite common in sales. 

So sorry about that. Let’s talk about money now. What are your thoughts on investing?

Investing is important. I love investing. However, I haven’t invested much recently because I lost my money on some investments. I used to be an investment addict but have returned to taking medium risks. Losing money brings you back to your senses, which is why Risevest has been it for me; they offer decent returns and safety, not ridiculous interest rates. I have invested in various companies, including agro ones, and lost money. I also know some people like my mother and brother who lost their money in such investments. So that taught me a lesson and has reduced the risks I take. However, investing is quite good. Even though the current exchange rate is terrible for the economy, it has helped me as I leveraged that to invest in dollar assets. At the beginning of the year, I had a financial goal in mind that I didn’t even know if I would reach, but I just wanted to try. I kept saving on Rise, and thanks to the exchange rate, I met and surpassed that goal. It gave me the confidence that I could do more.

That’s cool. What are your thoughts on budgeting?

I write down my expenses for every month. I have bills that I pay, so I budget how much I spend on each of them. I do this after I have combined the income from my perfume business and the salary from my 9-5. Then whatever profit I have left, based on the financial goal I have, I decide if there’s anything else I want to spend on or if I want to save. But I make sure that I have a budget for everything.

Let’s talk about Rise. How long have you been on Rise, and how has the journey been?

It’s been more than a year, and the journey has been incredible. I even regret not actively using the product when I first joined. Initially, I wasn’t sure about it, so I was just randomly putting my money in similar fintech savings and investment platforms. I was also doing everything, including crypto. I don’t even want to think about my loss on these investments. It’s also not good to be greedy. There was a time I made so much profit and could have removed it. Everyone told me to, but I thought it would still grow more. Even when it dropped, I refused to remove it and kept hoping it’d bounce back and make more gains until it became sawdust.

Risevest is all I use now because stocks and crypto have dealt with me, but Rise offers a diversified portfolio. It is also dollar-based, so I’m sure my investments are protected.

You’re welcome! So how has Rise helped you so far since you began your business? 

It has helped me immensely in reaching and surpassing my goals. I didn’t expect that, but the returns and gains from the exchange rate helped, which I always add to my business. Having my money in dollars gives me that hedge against naira devaluation and inflation. I also like that it’s increasing in value and not just idle and decreasing, especially in traditional Nigerian banks that charge you for ridiculous things. My business has grown so much over the years, thanks to using Rise.

Love it! What are some of your favourite things about using Rise?

It’s probably how easy the app is to use. My experiences have all been seamless. Transactions don’t take a lot of time; the moment I make a transfer, I receive a notification in my email that my account has been credited. It’s effortless, and the transfer charges are minimal.

What advice would you give others who are looking to start investing?

For investing, you should start, no matter how small. It is true that the more money you have, the easier it is to get more. Regardless, find a way, whatever way, to start. Just have a reserve; it is crucial. As I said earlier, I saved a certain amount from my parents’ allowance during my university days. I have imbibed this habit till now. It’s always in my mind to grow my money. For instance, when I have ₦10k, I want my next money to be ₦20k. I have always wanted that; to increase my finances.

For those looking to start a career in sales, be sure you’re ready for stress because sales is pressure-filled and demanding. Sometimes, you look back to ask if you really want to continue with this because, as much as other departments have their KPIs and targets, salespeople bring in the money. The pressure is always intense, so you just have to be sure it is something you can do before you go into it. Also, you must be on the road most of the time if you’re in sales. If you dislike being on the road, you probably shouldn’t be in sales. I’m a very restless person, so I don’t like being in one place. And getting used to sales, I can’t do a full-time office job now. Flexibility is also crucial. To be in sales, you have to be very flexible. That’s all I can say.