Today’s post is another really exciting one for me, as it’s time for yet another Youngpreneur interview. If you’ve been following these posts from the beginning, you would agree with me that it has been inspiring, enlightening, and real. We’ve had young entrepreneurs who run diverse businesses, tell us what goes on behind all the glitz and glamour that makes up their brand. Our Youngpreneur for today is a beautiful, determined and creative lady who is a chef. I have followed her work closely for a while now, and I have seen how she decides against all odds to evolve everyday and take her brand to the next level. In today’s interview, Chef Ari takes gives us a breakdown of how it all started, how it’s going, and what’s to come.
A word of caution; you’re going to salivate all through this interview, so get prepared! Haha!
A: Hi! Can you please introduce yourself?
M: My name is Marilyn Nzegwu, but I go by Chef Ari and I’m the CEO of ChefAri Network
A: Great to have you here Chef Ari! Please tell us a bit about your brand/business
M: ChefAri Network is a company that aspires to deal in all things food; a state of the art food truck never been seen in Nigeria, a Restaurant, a food show and food manufacturing as well as exports and imports of food products.
A: Very interesting, I must say. Amazing sense of creativity and business, and I’m here for it!. What was the driving force behind starting your business?
M: Food and art. I’ve never been good at anything artistic except food. And from a very young age (8years) my mum had taught me to bake bread and the likes. It’s the passion honestly.
A: Passion they say fuels purpose, and it’s great to see how beautiful it’s turned out for you, Welldone! On a scale of 1-10, how prepared were you to go into business?
M: LOL 0! I thought I was like on 20 not even 10 but it turned it was not even nearly as easy as I thought.
A: Haha! I can only imagine. After all, they say nothing good comes easy. Were there any reservations before you started?
M: None at all, I had a plan, I thought all I had to do was start and all the plans will fall in place.
A: Well, at least you had a high level of confidence, so that’s something. Lol. Can you just briefly tell us what a typical day at your business looks like?
M: Well, a typical day will be discussing menus for one event or the other, these days it’s meeting a couple of expatriates in Abuja to plan a menu for their monthly event or hosting their home parties.
A: That’s amazing, you’re indeed a very busy woman! What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome since you started?
M: Hmmm, where do I begin? Honestly deciding everyday that I will not quit. As easy as it sounds it’s been the toughest. For many reasons there are days I got to be so sure that I’m done with all of it.
A: It’s a beautiful thing that you didn’t give in to that feeling. It’s very inspiring. Because everyday just like you, a lot of us are faced with issues that make us decide that we’re just done. To be able to rise above it and remind ourselves of the amazing things that lie ahead is true strength and courage. What has been the highlight of this journey for you?
M: The Annie Idibia Care Foundation. It sort of reminded me of why I decided to be a Chef and projected exactly what I wanted my future to look like and more.
A: That’s wonderful, and we’re so glad you didn’t quit! Sometimes, we all need certain experiences that take us back to our drawing boards to remind us why we started. Now, how would you say social media has impacted your business? Positively or negatively?
M: A bit positively. When I started, I did day to day orders. Social media exposed me a lot, but social media really only sheds light on you if you can trend, but realistically you don’t have to trend to be good.
A: That’s definitely a new perspective for me! “You don’t have to trend to be good” I totally agree. Since you started, what steps have you taken or do you plan to take to build and project your brand?
M: Hmmm, I’d reserve that for everyone to see eventually, but really big things coming.
A: Ayyy! And we will be here to see and support you. So, what meals do you currently serve? (For the curious salivators like me)
M: Everything oh! Whatever you want we can do for all types of events even if you have 1million guests.
A: Haha! How amazing! Let me start saving up! Do you have people you look up to in your line of business? What are their names?
M: Internationally; Nigella Lawson, George Calombaris, Anne Sophie Pic and Gordon Ramsay. And in Nigeria; Chef Stone
A: At least I know Gordon Ramsay and Chef stone, and I know they’re great! So I know you’re on a good path. What would you say is the secret to staying in business?
M: There is no secret, your dreams just has to drive you.
A: ‘Your dreams should drive you’ This one’s definitely going on my wardrobe door. How do you cope with the pressure from dealing with customers?
M: True customers are like family, any pressure comes from wanting the best for you.
A: The kind that pushes you to succeed. Love it. What is the biggest myth you’ve heard associated with running a food business?
M: Food will always sell. Lol that’s not true, there are so many determining factors that would make food sell not just because people.
A: This is a big enlightening moment for me honestly, because prior to this, I also would have thought that ‘food will always sell’ I mean people are always hungry right? But it’s good to know that that is not always the case. Thank you for sharing. Who/What inspires you?
M: Myself honestly. I inspire myself
A: As it should be! What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
M: Failure is inevitable in business, it just depends on what you do after you fail.
A: I stan a determined boss lady who doesn’t give up! Because, when you fail you can either face it and rise, or forget it and run. Thank you! Your word of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs
M: Be 100% sure you are doing what you love.
A: Super important message here guys! Thank you for your time Marilyn, wishing you all the best in all that you do!
M: Thank you too!
I sure picked up some new things from today’s Youngpreneur and I hope you did too!
Remember that as much as we love celebrating these amazing individuals, one of the aims of the Youngpreneur segment is to motivate everyone of us who has a dream, to break away from our comfort zones, despite not having it all figured out.
To connect with Chef Ari (or order a thing or two for your best portable girl) , you can follow her across social media;