Laila Balogun is the CEO of Laila candles, a start-up that produces various forms of scented candles.
Laila, a 13-year-old secondary school student of Caleb International College, Lagos, was inspired to start this business out of her love for fragrance. While many of her mates are still in their parents’ cocoons, Laila is already an entrepreneur.
“My journey into entrepreneurship is one that is quite interesting. I personally got inspired by my mother when she would burn scented candles at home to give our environment a beautiful fragrance,” the young entrepreneur tells Start-Up-Digest.
“After making research online and practising it, my mum enrolled me with Abela Candles,” she says.
The young entrepreneur says that her business is just two years old and was supported with start-up funding from her parents.
“I started with N70, 000 and my business is worth N2 million. When we opened an Instagram account to promote the business sometime last year, we started having so many supporters and orders for weddings as well as souvenirs, birthdays, other events and event vendors too.”
When Laila started attending a proper candle- making class, she knew that was all she wanted to do at that time, even though her ultimate ambition was to become an Aeronautic Engineer.
“I took it as an opportunity to do something useful with my time and to also be a benefit to myself in the process. I told my elder sister, Salma Balogun, about the candle- making business idea and how I wanted it to be something serious. We both started coming up with ideas on how to promote it and she supported me on it. So, we basically have collaboration,” the young entrepreneur explains.
Laila is fortunate to have an elder sister Salma Balogun, a 15-year-old, who is her business manager in senior secondary school II.
Despite being in school, Laila and her sister were awarded young entrepreneurs of the year 2018, at the just concluded Nigerian Brands Carnival and Trades Exhibition.
“We are very grateful to God and the support of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, who is supporting micro and small business through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund,” she says.
When asked the challenges of combining school with business, Laila says that there hasn’t been so much challenge as she has learnt time management .
“Time management is one of the major challenges we face due to difficultly in balancing school and the candle making. Another thing is that we can’t purchase soy wax in Nigeria so we still have to import them. Soy wax is one of the healthiest types of wax for candle making. It doesn’t contain toxins,” she explains.
“It was difficult at first, but it got easier with time when we started making in bulk during the holidays and mid-term breaks. The ones that were not available, we make them on weekends,” she states.
Speaking on her long term plan, Laila points out that she wants the business to be known worldwide and her candles to be displayed in big stores all around the globe.
“Yes, other students can also combine their studies with it if they can manage their time efficiently. My advice to my peers is that you can progress in anything you set your mind to, with a little faith or little passion. I am happy to be a candle maker.
“I enjoy doing a lot of repair, braiding hair, arts & beading too. I just enjoy keeping my mind and hands creative, which made me fascinated with scented candles. I didn’t know when my sister and I started @lailascandles we would get this much attention but we thank God for it.”