It is not very common to see fitness-focused food brands thriving in Nigeria. One of the few is FitLife Café, a healthy food brand ranked top on Bolt Food for service delivery and customer preference. Located in the hearts of Lagos, FitLife Café is owned and run by three fast friends turned partners: Uche Nwokeji, Nkem Ejikeme, and Funmi Orunmuyi.
In this chat with Uche Nwokeji, she speaks about co-running FitLife Café and how being a vendor on Bolt Food has supported the growth of the business.
1. Please introduce yourself and your business.
My name is Uche Nwokeji, I am a wife and mother to 3 beautiful girls. I am a graduate of the University of Reading UK where I attained a First Class in BSC Economics. I followed up with a Masters in MSc Energy Trade and Finance from Cass Business School, London where I obtained a Distinction.
I am a Co-Owner of FitLife Café, a healthy food brand developed to help health-conscious individuals attain their body goals through transparency in macros and providing products with optimum nutrition. We are located at Skyfit Gym, Lagos Oriental Hotel. We also work with many fitness professionals to develop our products created to suit the taste buds of everyone and anyone, bearing in mind fitness and health as our goals.
2. What motivated you to start a fitness food brand and how has the journey been?
While growing up, I noticed that my parents and many family members were chubby. It deeply bothered me until I realised that it was centered around our diet. From that age, I started educating myself on healthy dieting and exploring on my own as I matured, not only to help myself but also to help the people around me. So, when I had the opportunity to start FitLife Café in 2019, I grabbed it with both hands and paired with my two co-partners Nkem Ejikeme and Funmi Orunmuyi.
We met at the gym and became fast friends because of our love for fitness and a strong desire to help those around us manage their weight and attain their body goals. Nkem Ejikeme is a Canadian trained health expert who has brought her wealth of experience to the Nigerian health and pharmaceutical sector. Funmi Orunmuyi is a serial entrepreneur in the food and hospitality industry. She’s passionate about business and innovation which is why she’s currently pursuing an MBA at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto to develop her business / management skills and expand her entrepreneurial footprint.
We worked very hard on the recipes, ensuring our ingredients were homemade and natural with the right balance in nutrition. We are currently producing a wide range of healthy smoothies, protein shakes, tiger Mylks, healthy bakes, juices and parfaits but are seriously working on diversifying into meals now. We want to take on the food industry but from a healthy angle. We are already working on extremely healthy and organic ‘on the go’ meals. The journey has been truly blessed. It’s been a growing experience navigating in this environment.
3. With your experience, what will you say are some challenges small businesses face?
A lot of businesses focus more on making profit rather than creating value. Our core value is foremost to develop products or services that really cater and satisfy our customers and clientele. This is what motivated me to go into the healthy food business; to help people achieve their best self. We want to give our clients and customers a lot more than they are paying. For example, all our bottles are pre-sterilized from factory because we care about hygiene and sanitary conditions.
When people try our products, they are pleasantly surprised at the quality and affordability. As much as we know we need to go into business for profit, right now we want to make sure that people get more quality than they pay for and understand that we are a standard on our own that they can trust. This is the reason why we are ranked best on Bolt Food app. Our products create healthy addicts because we bring non-comparative value.
4. Can you talk about how the Bolt Food app has impacted your business?
The support from Bolt Food has truly been advantageous for our business. We enjoy economies of scale in production. We can cater to a new and broader market without incurring huge costs on advertising. It’s incredibly convenient and efficient. Our payments are weekly and prompt with excellent reporting on sales. We are on other food platforms, but I sincerely can confirm Bolt Foods as the most efficient in performance and yielding returns. They are fast and we have never had any incidents.
5. Fitfam has become a buzzword on social media. Do you think it is a trend or it’s a lifestyle that is here to stay?
With more exposure and education, everyone, young and old, has realized fitness’s importance. For example, a 50-year-old person today looks comparatively better than a 50-year-old person 20 years ago. The difference is from the awareness most people have today and the propagation of the fitness lifestyle, especially in Africa. The world is a global village and health and fitness are focal points. The awareness of the current generation only keeps growing, which places our business in a fantastic position to take on the market. Fitfam is not just a buzzword; it is already a lifestyle for most.
6. How are you able to navigate business challenges as a woman?
In simple terms, hard work. Hard work will always speak for you. So just focus on your passion, success will come, and you will overcome. For example, our products are not written “developed by women”, but they are very successful.
I can be a good wife and mother and still run successful businesses. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and family, so my natural bias is currently placed on myself by limiting what I can achieve. I’m yet to realize my limit as I know I have the God-given capacity and the necessary support to accomplish my ambitions. My girls will know that they can thrive as wives, mothers, and enterprising, successful businesswomen.
7. Any advice for young business owners like you?
Follow your passion. Anything you do that gives you joy or feels like a hobby that you have passion for, you should transform it into a business. If it keeps you up at night, then figure out a way to monetise it. Most importantly, be original. Don’t model another person’s dream. Instead, work hard at your dream, and of course, success will follow, and so will wealth. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you are a food business owner, register with Bolt Food today!