Women of Wonder Interview with Ilera’s CEO, Chinonye Akunne

Women have made an undeniable impact on the world, paving the way for future generations to break barriers and shatter stereotypes. Often in the face of discrimination and adversity, women have trail blazed by building brands and achieving greatness through innovation, leadership and inspiration.

We celebrate Women's History Month by featuring the remarkable female founders whose brands you can find at SHOWFIELDS. Tune in as we interview our Women of Wonder!

What inspired you to start your own business? 

CA: I became a small business owner because I have a passion for helping people live their best life. In 2015, I was working as a Global Industrial Hygienist for a Big 3 Automotive company. At that same time, my youngest brother was going vegan and had transitioned everything but his body care products. His biggest frustration was not being able to find a vegan deodorant that worked for his active lifestyle so he turned to me to help. Using my background in chemistry and environmental health, I was able to create a solution for him.

What makes Ilera so unique?

CA: ILERA Apothecary is a skincare company that grows your confidence through plant-based ingredients and sustainable packaging. Feel confident knowing you are using the best products for your skin and the environment.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

CA: I would have done a lot more marketing to get the exposure out there for my brand early on. Building a brand is hard when no one knows about it lol.

What have you enjoyed most about starting your own brand?

CA: I am happy that thousands of people use ILERA Apothecary (a company I started to help my brother) to show up as their best selves daily.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a female-founded company?

CA: It’s my nature to trust easily, and unfortunately, I’ve encountered people who do not have good hearts and take advantage of my trusting nature. I’m frequently torn between being a closed-off person who doesn't trust other people in an act of self-preservation or continuing to live freely and trusting with the knowledge that I can be disappointed.

Do you have a mantra that you live by?

CA: There is nothing in my way but air and opportunity.

What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?

CA: Ask questions, do your research (or hire someone to), believe in yourself, and never stop growing.

If someone is new to your brand, what is the first product they should try?

CA: I highly recommend people start with one of our discovery kits. The Discovery Kits are mini sizes that you can try before getting a full-size product. We have a full set that comes with all of our offerings, a Skincare Kit specifically for facial care, a Body Butter Kit that comes with 4 mini jars of butter, and a Body Wash Kit that comes with 4 mini sizes of body washes.