QueenKay is a wife and mother of three young boys, Chika, Ero and Lota, a multi-faceted entrepreneur, writer, enthusiast, and optimist. She moved to the United States from Nigeria when she was 18-years-old. After living in the Washington, DC area for a few years, she relocated to Los Angeles, California. Her desire to realize her creative passions led her to Hollywood. Nevertheless, she soon found herself taking a detour, to follow her heart’s pathway. After falling in love and getting married, QueenKay’s true-life, fairytale romance ended tragically. Ironically, the ending of her romance was the beginning of her Reconstruction and Transformation and the very catalyst of her book, The Reconstruction and Transformation of QueenKay. Her second literary work is part of an unstoppable movement. Collaborating with 23 female authors from all facets of life, The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well-Being is a groundbreaking project. The foreword for the book, is written by Oprah Winfrey’s Marketing Manager, Maya Watson with Harpo Studios. Her third literary work is also part of the unstoppable movement titled, The Success Guide for The Unstoppable Entrepreneur. It is a straightforward guide to help new business owners and entrepreneurs succeed in business. She is working on her 4th and 5th literary projects scheduled to be released in 2017. She is newly married to her husband Dennis Itua and she runs a specialty grocery store in Oakland, California.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My store was started by my late husband in 1998 shortly after we started dating. At the time I lived in Los Angeles and he was settling into Oakland. I moved to join him in late 1998/1999 and supported him while holding down a job in corporate america. I became the official owner of the store when he passed in 2007 and have run it ever since then. So the motivation to keep it running was based on the fact that he had worked so hard to establish and keep a business and also to help pay for my family’s expenses. I soon became in love with being a business owner and have also carved out another brand for myself in becoming an author and life coach while building my lifestyle brand.
Tell us about your business.
My business is called The African Caribbean Food Market. Located in downtown Oakland. It is a specialty grocery store with ingredients and spices from Africa and The Caribbean. We have a wide range of customers who are from these parts of the world and also some American customers who are foodies and love to try different things.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I will be running promos in the fall close to when I will be publishing my cookbook. I am sure I will run regular business promos via my store’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
- I have been awarded a community builder award by the Nigerian community.
- Unique shops to visit in the bay by various publications.
- I am also a certified life coach.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in downtown Oakland, California.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
By the time I started running my business, we had a stable customer base of about 1,000 patrons. Now we have grown to about 4,000 patrons and counting. With the advent of social media, we have customers who we communicate with online.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth and social media.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Most of my local customers prefer to come to the store and pick the food products themselves because they prefer to go to a physical facility to touch and feel their food products before they buy it. We offer delivery services as well but are grateful that they choose to support us despite some of the distances they have to drive in.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We are overcoming these challenges one at a time by earning the trust of our customers by delivering high quality products to them.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
There’s a quote I learned a long time ago, “Tough times never last but tough people do” I I tend to believe that no matter how tough times are that it is only a matter of time before it passes and becomes history. There is always a lesson to be learned during the tough times.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I distinguish myself from my competitors because most of my competitors sell the food products, but do not cook or eat it. I do my best to immerse myself in the knowledge of the nutritional facts of the food products we sell and passing that knowledge to our customers.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I received recently is to keep pushing and stay consistent in accomplishing my goals and eventually it will pay off.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The advice I would give other entrepreneurs is to stay focused on their mission to see their vision come to life.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My favorite business tools and resources are my customers. They tell me what is trending, they tell me what is going on, what their needs are and give me advice on how to improve my business.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I recently read an article about Serena Williams the Tennis Superstar and it was about her tenacity and never giving up attitude and how it has served her well over the years. I followed it up with watching a documentary about her that was made in the last year following her breaking the grand slam record. I felt deeply inspired by her and it encouraged me to stay focused on my goals.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning more about social media marketing and growing my customer base and it is quite interesting.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goals for the next few months are to finish my books, one is a cookbook and the other one is a life guide book and I am also working on a fashion line. I am always busy to put it mildly.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @queenkay74, @manmustwak
Facebook @iamqueenkay, @AfricanCaribbeanFoodMarket
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/QueenkayFitnessChallenge
Email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hashtags #queenkay #queen #manmustwak #bosslady #boss #fitness #lifestyle #lifestylebrand #African #Caribbean