I recently read her feature on BellaNaija, and I was inspired. It was an honest account of the first hand struggles of a woman trying to lose weight. I decided there and then that I was going to find out more about this inspiring woman. When I did, I couldn’t help but share her story with other women.
So here we are!
It all started when she accepted what had been staring her in her face for years – she was OVERWEIGHT! She realized her weight was going to cost her life if she did nothing about it. From that moment on, she made a conscious effort to turn her life around; she swapped her junk food for healthier food choices. Her decision led her to research healthy food and snack options and voila, a hobby was born.
From a hobby which grew into a side hustle, and then into a business, meet Nelly Agbogu the amazing woman behind Nellie’s Food: The Healthy Food Company.
tw: How long have you been in business?
NA: I started my business from my kitchen in March 2015, I was still working in Schlumberger then and it was more like a side hustle while I focused on my job; the proceeds I made then was not really accounted for because it was more like a hobby. On 11th of March 2016, I got laid off from work, and I opened my first store 3 days after because I knew my side hustle was increasingly growing.
tw: Was this ever a part of your life plans? (owning a food company) did you ever think that this is what you will be doing?
NA: Owning a food company was never in my agenda; infact, I wasn’t even a born cook. I can remember that in secondary school, I made an A in food in nutrition because I copied a recipe from the cookery book and tweaked it. My husband literally taught me how to cook. And when it was time to start my business due to my weight loss as well as my kids well-being, I went online to learn how to bake. Till today, I don’t call myself a baker because I never went to school for one, all you have seen is a business built from researching on my own via google and YouTube and tweaking it to suit the Nigerian palette.
tw: What is the goal of Nellies food company?
NA: Our goal is simple: to make Healthy snacks and food the new normal. We want people to stop seeing healthy snack and meals as a go to when they want to lose weight but as a normal part of their daily lives. Want to eat a pizza? Why not have Nellies cabbage crust pizza, that way you get your pizza which is way healthier with less calories.
tw: How has it been like managing the business?
NA: Sincerely, running a business in Nigeria can be really daunting; one minute you feel like you have figured it out, the next day it’s as if all has fallen apart. No help from the government; they come for tax and we don’t see our tax money working; businesses find it hard to scale up due to the regulatory bodies equating start ups like a full established business
tw: If i have my facts correctly, The Naija Brand Chick is another baby of yours?
NA: Yes it is.
tw: What is ‘The Naija brand chick’ and what informed the need for this business?
NA: Naijabrandchick is a page (now a business) I started out of my passion to teach start-ups on how to leverage on social media to increase their brand visibility as well as discuss with other entrepreneurs on the day to day challenges we face in our business.
tw: What are some of the unique challenges you face running two businesses in Nigeria and what are your strategies for staying on top?
NA: STRUCTURE – I learnt that if I can automate my Naijabrandchick business and work on it in the evenings when I am free from the daily activities of baking and advertising Nellies, I could make sure I didn’t drop the ball ant any end. At Nellies, I have gone from being the chief baker to being the chief marketing officer, so I have a target to ensure I bring in a certain amount of customers everyday via instagram. This has really helped me manage both businesses.
tw: How do you balance it all? (family, entrepreneurship and fitness)
NA: Hmmmm… it’s not been easy, and trust me am not balancing it all. Because of how I have been juggling two businesses, My weight loss journey has suffered and am trying to pick up from where I stopped and push harder. For my family, I will say am blessed with a hands on husband, he has really and literally been the wind beneath my wings, my silent partner who helps me with the kids when I needed to stay late at work or finish a project or even go live on Instagram.
twI read your feature on BellaNaija where you shared your weightless journey, and i was truly inspired. How has the journey been from that point till now? Has it gotten easier?
NA: No it hasn’t *sobs* but I’m not giving up
tw: What are the biggest challenges that threaten your fitness journey?
NA: NOT SLEEPING! Sometimes I am so neck deep in work, creating structure that when I look up its 4 AM, and I can’t sleep anymore, I have to get the kids ready and ensure they don’t go late to school. Thankfully I don’t drive so I just sleep through out in traffic which is not enough.
tw: Any secret tips for losing weight and staying fit?
NA: SLEEPING! Lol… And also not being too hard on one’s self. I’m not trying to lose weight I’m trying to release excesses from my body that I have piled on, I already know what to do to lose weight but is the understanding of why I added weight that has helped me the most.
tw: For someone who has been on both sides of the scale what valuable lesson would you share with other women, particularly women on a weight loss journey.
NA: I still feel I have more to lose however, what I have learnt is that consistency is the key. Eat what you love in a healthier version and try as much as possible to put in a minimum of 10 minutes workout a day.
You can follow Nelly Agbogbu on Instagram @nelliesng for more inspiration.