There have been several expressions that confirm that this life we live is a journey.
Just as any journey, you sometimes have to take a detour because of something on the road ahead.
Sometimes, we have a clear vision of where it is leading us until something else happens and all of a sudden you have to make a decision.
You find yourself at the crossroads – should you go ahead, turn left or right. A difficult decision, sometimes it comes naturally, but you must definitely make one choice.
From her time in the United States of America, leaving her American job to move back to Ghana and then leaving her managerial role in a top company in Ghana to put her energy in her own beauty start up – all of those series of decisions have been part of Mary Sharon Agyapong’s life journey so far.
She is the founder of Eya Naturals Limited, a beauty brand company that produces natural products. She currently has two major brands- the Eya Naturals, which is a line of natural hair care products and the Kaydua Luxury, a line for skincare products. Eya Naturals Limited also owns a couple of salons and spas in the country.
Her foray into entrepreneurship was unplanned and risky, however, she pulled through and now she has Samira Bawumia, Naa Ashorkor Mensah Doku, Captain Planet and others as her clients.
Sharon attended University Primary and JSS, Legon and then furthered her education at Akosombo International School, where she studied Economics, Geography, Mathematics.
After her Senior High School Education, she gained admission to study for a Bachelor of Economics at Mount Holyoke College in the United States of America.
She didn’t end there, she went to France for an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the INSEAD Business School and that became very important for Sharon.
When Sharon lived in the USA she held a job in the financial industry, she left that and moved to Ghana.
In Ghana, Sharon worked in telecommunications and then the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry. Her last job was as the Head of Strategy at Diageo Ghana. She was part of the management team – could also be inferred that she was one of the top earners in the company.
Why then, did she decide to walk away from that to embark on a journey of uncertainty – the entrepreneurial journey.
The answer comes from the year 2012. Sharon had moved back to Ghana and she has made the life-altering decision to stop using hair relaxers and go natural. For women, this is a major life choice.
“In 2012 when I decided to ditch hair relaxers, it was no small feat trying to find affordable natural hair care in Ghana,” Sharon told Kuulpeeps.com in an interview.
“I decided to solve my own problem. I started mixing my own products for my hair. Some friends and strangers started asking about the products I used for my hair, she added.
“They started requesting I make some and sell to them. So, I did. I provided a solution to my problem, that happened to be other people’s problems too,” she said.
After two years, Sharon launched Eya Naturals in 2014 from her home to provide a solution to problems natural hair ladies were facing.
I believe being able to combine my passion, education, and skills places me in an exceptional position to bring Africa to the world, while bringing the world to Africa.Mary Sharon Agyapong
She started this company from her home and now she has 2 brands with products being distributed to the United States, Nigeria, Togo, Rwanda, DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Japan. She also has the ability to ship anywhere in the world.
All of that came from hardworking and taking bold decisions.
One of her major challenges as a start-up was the consistent sourcing of quality raw materials.
“In the early start-up stage, sourcing consistently quality raw materials was a challenge since we were ordering smaller quantities and we did not have much bargaining power to insist on certain quality standards,” she explained.
“This was an important challenge because the quality of your raw materials dictate the quality of your finished goods,” she added.
However, Sharon knew she had to insist on the quality of raw materials, so her team developed a checklist of requirements for the suppliers.
“For example, if we were ordering say shea butter, we would specify in a checklist our acceptable grade, colour, consistency, etc. to help guide the supplier,” Sharon explained.
Another thing Sharon had to do was learn to say NO to certain proposed partnership opportunities.
“As business owners, we get to a point where all we want to do is to grow, at any cost,” she told Kuulpeeps.com.
“However, I have come to learn that there are times when you need to refuse certain avenues of growth if the problems they present outweigh the long-term benefits,” she explained.
Citing an example, Sharon said she “had to say no to some distribution and branch opening opportunities that were extremely difficult to let go.”
While learning to grow cautiously and as organic as possible, Sharon embarked on new product developments and a well-coordinated expansion drive of opening new shops and salons.
“The recent launch of our skincare line is the most current project we worked on,” she said.
It was a risky move launching a new product in a COVID-19 pandemic and most businesses would have pulled the break on such a plan.
“We decided to challenge ourselves and still move ahead with our plans for 2020,” she said.
The gamble has paid off. “The feedback from clients who have tried Kaydua Luxury products has been great,” she added.
However, her company has also faced other challenges during the COVID 19 pandemic. The salon part of her company suffered the most.
“However, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of staff and clients alike,” she added.
“In addition, capital has recently become a challenge for the business because we are looking to expand the business and move out of the small business arena,” she said.
“We want to expand production to be able to keep up with supply and create more innovations in the industry. This requires an injection of capital,” she explained.
However, not even the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic can stop Sharon from taking stock of the amazing things she has done with her company since she launched it 6 years ago.
Presence on the international market – We have been able to grow from providing only a few products to a multi-brand company. With our products being available in several countries including Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Japan, United States, etc.
Setting up several branches of our shops and salons – Although our own physical locations for retailing our products and services are only within Ghana, we have been able to open four branches of our shops/salons across Accra and Kumasi.
Launching our luxury skincare line – We launched our new luxury skincare brand – Kaydua Luxury – during the pandemic. And so far, the response has been beyond amazing. We are currently working on making the products available in Nigeria, Canada and USA in the next few months.
Eya Naturals and Sharon herself have been featured, nominated and won a number of prestigious awards.
Nominated for Best Achiever (Beauty & Cosmetics) – The Feminine Ghana Achievement Awards 2020
CEO was Featured as A Force Beyond Limits INSEADWomen in my business school (INSEAD, 2018)
Won Best Natural Hair Salon in Ghana 2017– Africans Gone Naturals (community of naturals online)
Nominated for Best product, Best Conditioner, Best Leave-in, etc 2017 Africans Gone Naturals (community of naturals online)
Beyond running her own company, Sharon also works as a consultant and works with both international and Ghanaian businesses to enter the market and grow their presence in Ghana.
She has come to embody the very definition of making life decisions, sticking to them and making a success out of it.
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