Name: Alexis Oladipo
Current title | Company: Director
Education: MA Food Business and Product Development (present)
Website / social media pages: @LexLdn @GymBites – GymBites.co.uk & AlexisOladipo.com
Can you give us brief outline about your background, the first job you landed and how you got it?
My first job was at 16 for Marks & Spencer, I remember attending their opening day in Hammersmith with a friend. I found out I got the job which I was really surprised about. I grew up never feeling particularly good at anything. My GCSE’s weren’t great, I always looked at my friends as prettier and smarter than me, so when I got the job and my friend didn’t I was genuinely surprised and a little proud of myself. Not because she never got the job, but because, finally I could go home and tell my mum I had achieved something.
How did you go from being an office cleaner to starting a business that focuses on healthy living , what inspired you?
Well the idea was to actually become the best fashion editor in the world, but then I discovered the career of a stylist, and as mentioned I’m not an academic person so when I realized being an editor didn’t only involve wearing beautiful clothes, but writing about them, I thought “screw that” and said I’d be a stylist and create beautiful looks instead! So I did!
After graduating from university, I left my sales assistant role and secured a job at Selfridges, which I was over the moon about. However my enthusiasm for the role didn’t last long. I soon came across a book that had been recommended to me a few times called ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki and the moment I read that book my whole life changed.
‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ birthed something in me I never knew existed. Yes I wanted to be a stylist but I wasn’t necessarily doing the steps to take me there. I liked the idea of being a stylist but I was still working in retail and making somebody else rich. Something in me woke up and I left my Sales Assistant/Brand Ambassador role at Selfridges and began to pursue my dream as a freelance stylist.
Well… What can I say? I failed. Two and a half years of hard a** grinding, tears and rejection, I felt that I had failed at making my “dream” as a stylist come true. Well, what I thought was my dream. In my opening whilst we are growing, we never quite get what’s going on but little did I know that God was just preparing me and working things out for my good.
Money wasn’t coming in and I was on jobseekers. Enough was enough. I decided to get back into work, however I couldn’t get work. I applied, applied and applied and all I got was rejection after rejection after rejection… I eventually let my pride go and took a job as an office cleaner, working 3am shifts everyday in the City, cleaning the office desks and kitchens of some of the richest financial bankers in London. From an aspiring fashion stylist to a cleaner, you can only imagine how I felt.
I felt like a failure, things were also going on in my personal life that had a bad effect on me that caused me to go into depression, I lost quite a bit of weight, I mean I really wasn’t happy at all, but with that said, I kept going, I didn’t give up, I kept my head low and worked very hard. I had a point to prove, not only to the people who once mocked me but also to myself.
The most important part of your journey has been coming out of depression/ anxiety, how did you manage to overcome it?
My salvation and faith in God. I went through a lot of pain and then I dsicovered Him, His love, kindness and endless mercies. I was in a dark place and really felt like nothing or no one could help me, so I turned to the one person introduced to me as a child that I could trust. I was determined to get better, so I literally leaned on my faith in God. We all have a place of hope and we should lean on it when we need to.
What makes GymBites so different from the other Healthy living brands?
Me. I am the uniqueness behind Gym Bites. Lets face it, people gravitate to my brand more when they see who is behind it and the story behind it which then leads the consumer to appreciate the brand, it’s aesthetics, the message and its values.
What challenges have you faced since starting?
There are so many, financial, staffing, brand awareness, even just motivating yourself each day to get up and continue building is a challenge.
Did you start with any funding?
I had self funded my business with the help of my mum, she gave me about £15,000 over a period of time to keep the cash flow afloat, however my first initial funding of £3,000 came from the Princes Trust.
If you could go back and make any changes, what would they be?
I’d go back and be a lot wiser with how I spent money, finance isn’t my strength and I learnt the hard way that sometimes its ok to say no to opportunities that sound amazing but might cost you an arm and a leg. When you first start a business, you’re so desperate to get your brand out there but what many fail to realize is the implications that come with such zeal, and at times can do more damage than good. You need to be able to recognise when your business is ready, mine was far too young for some of the projects we took on, but I guess that’s the beauty of learning. You can’t learn if you don’t make mistakes.
Can you share a few words to all our lady readers about ” healthy living” what it means to you and why we should embrace it?
My body is a temple; I have duty to keep my body pure, spiritually, mentally and physically. That’s means taking my daily bread (bible) and feeding my mind and my soul. That means making healthier and nutritious food choices to feed my body. You have nothing to give if you’re filled with junk, all that happens is over time you become sick and then you’re of no use to anyone. You owe to yourself and others to keep yourself healthy, what you put in, radiate on the outside, and not just your body will thank you for it, but so will others.
As they say ” it’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle” What are your 3 practical steps on getting that dream healthy lifestyle?
1. Start your morning, before you eat anything with a glass of room temperature water with a couple slices of organic lemon or lime.
2. Swap your sweet cravings for raw bake free treats which are made with raw ingredients such as almonds, peanuts, cranberries, usually all naturally occurring with sugars and a lot healthier than GMO manufactured products.
3. Find time to exercise, all you need is 20 minutes of HIIT (High intensity interval training) 3-4 a week. This can be done at home, outdoors or the gym.
Can you share a recent success story that makes you proud?
Being recognized for my achievements in a new book called Slay In Your Lane due to launch next year spring. My story will be shared amongst successful women of colour like actress Thandie Newton, singer/songwriter Estelle, to name a few. I still pinch myself, thinking wow, I am so humbled that anyone thinks I am worthy of such recognition.
How did you feel when Selfridges approached you to stock your products ?
Again I was humbled. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d have a product, let alone have it stocked in Selfridges!
3 top tips on becoming an entrepreneur?
- Get a mentor who’s expertise is either in finance or business or whatever your business needs
- Save, save and save, keep some cash a side for a rainy day. Business is unpredictable.
- Never stop creating innovation is key to stay ahead of your competition and to keep your consumer base interested in what you have to offer.
What’s the most important advise you have received that you would like to share with other ladies?
You are enough. I read this often on social media, so it’s not so much “advice” I have been given. I have realized that I can be quite tough on myself, constantly criticizing my work and thinking I or what I have to offer isn’t good enough. It’s important to celebrate your wins, big or small, because sometimes we can be our biggest critique but never our biggest cheerleader.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Leave those damn boys alone! haha!
What is the future for Gym Bites?
You’ll have to wait and find out, just know it will be bigger and better!