Taking a bite out of the business world: Alexis Oladipo
‘Under The MAGNIFY Glass’ is our new series talking to extraordinary, yet ordinary women whose passion for life and faith can inspire us all to dream big and dare to fail.
For Alexis Oladipo, the journey to building her business was not an easy one. Despite battling depression and searching for creativity, Alexis found the strength to establish Gym Bites — the food brand that has been stocked in Selfridges and is taking the industry by storm.
Despite being passionate about food and fashion, Alexis was forced to accept a job cleaning offices to keep herself afloat before she could make her dreams a reality. It was at that point she turned back to God after spending years away from Him.
‘I had come out of an unhealthy relationship, had two medical procedures, including having a lump removed from my breast, and was battling depression. I was so unhappy with how things were and I decided that I could not take any of it into the future, so I turned back to God and tried it His way. I asked God for healing on a daily basis because I wanted to be right again — spiritually, physically, mentally and financially — and be filled with joy and peace. Now my relationship with God has become stronger and my faith is unbreakable.’
Alexis continued to fight to get her life back on track and, in 2012, shared her idea for Gym Bites with a friend. After receiving a lukewarm reception, she decided not to pursue it until she was introduced to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Accelerator scheme, which helps individuals find a mentor, pitch for a loan and kick-start a business. ‘I was allocated a millionaire mentor, who is such an incredible gentleman. He really took time to explore my ideas, but I ended up breaking down in tears in front of him and admitted I couldn’t find that “worthy” business idea I needed. He simply asked me: “What are you good at?” and I told him about my love for food and shared the idea for Gym Bites.
‘He was so excited for me and gave me the encouragement I needed. The journey so far has definitely been such a blessing and I have learnt so much about myself in the past four years. Starting and running a business and having something that went from just an idea to selling in Selfridges is a dream come true.’ But the Gym Bites journey has not been without its struggles. For Alexis, success is a journey that she pursues each day, focusing on the little ‘wins’ that keep her positive in the hard times.
‘Running a business alone can be really challenging and you have to learn not to let the hard times get the better of you. With a business, you don’t have the same type of security as the usual 9–5 job and there can be times when you don’t even know how you’re going to pay your staff or supply your demand. But there is something so satisfying in knowing you built something from nothing; that you decided to take your destiny into your own hands and become more than what the world tells you, even though it comes with sacrifices. Many people think that once you have a business all your problems go away and you can hang out on an island somewhere! While that may be lovely, things won’t always happen as you plan, so it’s about being an overcomer and not letting anything get in your way.’
Even today, Alexis’ faith is a key part of her business, as she makes decisions with a healthy balance of believing in God’s faithfulness and stepping out. ‘The business was not only a gift, but a distraction from all the background noise and I am grateful that God gave me this project to help me stay grounded. But with everything I pray for, ask for and believe, I work diligently towards it at the same time.’ And her advice to budding businesswomen? Getting your head around the figures. For Alexis, handling money and preparing for a rainy day were key lessons to learn as she started Gym Bites, despite understanding the numbers being a hard task to master.
‘If you don’t like numbers, get to like them or find someone who will work with you on them! Business can be so unpredictable and anything can happen at any time, so you need a business plan. You need to be diligent, disciplined, positive and prepared for failure, because when you prepare for failure, you prepare for recovery.’
So what’s next for Gym Bites and Alexis? She was coy in giving everything away, but she did say she will soon be launching her new website, which will feature recipes, food tutorials and a personal blog.
WORDS BY Jenny Desborough
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Folaju Oyegbesan