By Chloe Lawrance
It's hard to fit Chinazo Ufodiama into one neat box. She's a brand and communications specialist - a successful one too, having spent more than a decade building a career as a publicist for luxury fashion brands, before launching her own consultancy in 2020.
But she's also a podcaster, creating and hosting the Unpretty Podcast for the past three years. Alongside producers Ayo Sule and Kaydine Biscette, Ufodiama interrogates beauty - both as an industry and an ideal - through the stories of people of colour.
So, with two business ventures under her belt - and plans to continue to write, produce and grow her consultancy - International Women's Day was the perfect opportunity to sit down with this all-round powerhouse woman and discuss everything from careers advice to skincare secrets.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career journey so far
'I was born in Nigeria, but I moved to Wakefield when I was three. At university I was appointed fashion editor at the uni paper, which was my first interaction with fashion PR (apart from The Hills, of course). That's what helped me secure some internships while I was a student, and I worked as a PR assistant at a fashion brand once I graduated. I moved agency side, and after 10 years decided to take the leap and start my own brand and communications consultancy in 2020.'
Why did you want to start your own business?
'I have a very specific approach to my job, and in a big agency I couldn't work in the way I truly wanted to. I also wanted some flexibility - to lecture, write and start my podcast. I left my last agency two weeks before the UK went into the first Covid lockdown, which was scary, but actually felt like a blessing in disguise. I was burnt out, and it meant I could rest and recover. Luckily, business started to accelerate within just a few months. It hasn't really slowed since.'
What advice would you give to any women looking to start their own business?
'This might be a little controversial to say, but if you don't believe that you can do something, then you're never going to be able to do it. People often say you have to just do the thing anyway, but I've always found that I need to have a strong personal belief to drive me forwards. Although it's a very British thing to not celebrate your own abilities, believing in myself - that I'm good at my job and can achieve what I want to do - has allowed me to do so.'
Your podcast, Unpretty Podcast, is about to enter its third series. Tell us more about it.
'The idea for the podcast came from a conversation that I had with a group of six or seven Black women. We were talking about our braids - where we get them done, how much we pay, that sort of thing. I suddenly realised that we never hear these kinds of conversations. I turned to my now-producer Ayo and said, wouldn't it be great if this was recorded? If people from all backgrounds could actually hear the diversity of what having braided hair is really like.
'The show offers a platform to explore the world of beauty through the lens of people of colour. It's an honest place for sharing and bonding, but also learning, because nobody knows the ins and outs of every cultural background. For me, it's so important to have representation of different voices.'
Do you follow any beauty rituals?
'I'm all about optimising my time during my beauty routine, so I try to get everything done as soon as I get out of the shower. In the mornings, I'll put my body moisturiser on in the bathroom, then while that's soaking in I'll do my skincare and maybe make myself a quick coffee. By the time that's all done, my moisturiser has absorbed and I can get dressed. I don't know why I never thought to moisturise in the bathroom before, but since I've made that change I've found I don't waste time just sitting on my bed in my towel anymore.'
Before we let you go, what’s your favourite Soho Skin product?
'The Cream Cleanser. I thought I hated creamy cleansers, but this one has totally changed my perception of them. I love the texture as it feels like it's really cleaning my skin. I haven't stopped raving about it since I first used it.'