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Everything is different – yet the same – for Shea Radiance founder Funlayo Alabi. (Credit: Shea Radiance)

As an entrepreneur, Funlayo Alabi has been through some serious ups and downs since starting up in 2008. Her Baltimore beauty business, Shea Radiance, almost went under several years ago when the demands of its first wholesale relationship nearly proved too much to handle. But Alabi regrouped and bounced back — and then some. Shea Radiance products can now be found in stores big and small around the country, including at grocery giants Whole Foods and, as of earlier this month, Wegmans.

And though Covid changed so much for so many, Alabi says Shea Radiance continued making and shipping its signature products from in-house. She also continues to partner with West African shea farmers for her namesake ingredient. But there have also been significant changes to Alabi’s individual life and habits, she adds — especially when it comes to getting ready for the day.

We asked Alabi how she works now.

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Are you currently remote or in-person or hybrid?

We are a beauty product manufacturer, so the operations side of our business was operating on an in-person basis — even during pandemic lockdowns.

What has changed the most about how you work, since the pandemic?

There’s less travel to trade shows and events now, and fewer lunch dates with customers. I definitely spend more time interacting on Zoom.

Which did you prefer – working in an office or in-person setting, or working remotely?

The operations side of our business requires my onsite presence — but I love meeting with my team daily. It energizes me and keeps me motivated.

Do you have a signature work outfit or accessory?

Athleisure and other stretchy clothes are my default work outfits. They are comfy and allow me to get things done.

Is there one thing in your closet that you don’t think you’ll ever wear again?

No more pantsuits or high heels!

What time do you get up?

Depends. During the school year, I am up at 6 a.m. to get ready for carpool duties. When school is out, I’m up around 7 a.m.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I read my Bible and meditate on a verse of scripture. This practice allows me to put everything in my life into perspective. I am reminded that God is in control, and I can handle anything that comes my way during the day. It is during these quiet moments that I gain insights and come up with creative ideas.

What apps do you check the most?

Gmail, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Do you have a preferred social-media platform?

I definitely prefer Instagram for my brand, and LinkedIn for my professional profile. As a beauty brand, Instagram allows us to engage with our primary customer demographic — women ages 24 to 44. We use Instagram as a visual mood board. LinkedIn, however, is where I share my entrepreneurial experiences and insights on building a beauty brand through the lens of a Black immigrant woman.

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On the official Shea Radiance Instagram account, you can find “images that capture our customers’ beauty aspirations.” (Credit: Shea Radiance)

What’s your Zoom background?

Lots of busy team members packing boxes — and trying to do it quietly.

During the work day I can’t live without…

A fresh cup of coffee with Oatley oat milk.

The best thing that the pandemic has done for the workplace is…

Eased some of the stress of being a working mother. Even though I go into the office daily, I know that for most of my friends working remotely and being able to get chores done between Zoom calls is a bonus.

What do you miss the most from the “before times?”

I miss attending industry conferences around the world. I miss the ease of international travel in pre-pandemic times. I did some international traveling earlier this month and scheduling PCR tests before flying out and back was inconvenient and expensive.

Does your work day have a hard stop?

Never. I run my own business, and I do what needs to be done.

How do you de-stress?

I go to the gym regularly for weight training. I also joined a yoga studio for stretching and toning.

Where did you go on your most recent vacation?

Morocco.

These have been trying times. What are you the most hopeful about?

I am most hopeful that we are realizing that the things in life that really matter don’t cost much. During the height of the pandemic, I spent more time enjoying my family and caring for them because I had fewer travel demands. I am also hopeful that the death of George Floyd will have a lasting impact on how we prioritize the issue of racial justice.

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