Cynthia Osuchukwu, popularly known as “MystiqueSyn,” is a storyteller, public speaker, on-air personality, creative director, literary enthusiast, and entrepreneur. She is an ardent lover of literature and movies. During the day, she is the creative director of 25pointzero; Nigeria’s premier female-led digital agency, but at night, she resorts to blogging and confidential online therapy for troubled souls.
She is an award-winning ghostwriter, creative consultant, and contributor to several blogs. Her poems, short stories, scripts, and articles have appeared on her blog and in various local and international journals with translations in Igbo, Pidgin, and Spanish. Her ghostwritten works have appeared on the New York Times Best Selling list.
She has transformed brands and has served in the capacity of campaign manager, creative director, startup consultant, digital strategist, adviser and human relations manager.
In conjunction with a partner, she holds an annual writing competition for writers on social media with the media support of her two-time International award-winning story blog, SyncityNG. She is a mentor to young adults who need to find their career path and purpose. At the moment and in conjunction with 25pointzero, she is working on a startup dedicated to preserving African stories and improving literacy among Africans.
The start-up called SlateTab will provide free school books to children as part of a community project. The start-up was a finalist in the Forbes X StriveMasiyiwa ‘YourTurn’ contest, the Next Titan Season 4 Entrepreneurship Reality TV show, 1776 Opportunity Cup Lagos, a finalist at the Seyi Tinubu Entrepreneurship Program(STEP) and came 1st runner-up in the Accelerate Lab sincubation program powered by the Future Project and Microsoft.
Syn was nominated for the prestigious Tush Awards as the ‘Most Promising Entrepreneur of the Year’, 2017. She lives for ice-cream, Agege bread, and a good erotica novel.
I know you must be wowing and phewing by now. This lady is loaded. She’s had a lot of on-hands experience developing herself, those around her, start-up companies and winning wonderful awards. We caught up with her so as to pick her brain concerning certain issues and we believe you can learn one or two things from her. Below is the interview.
Pelleura: Nice to have this chat with you, MystiqueSyn.
Cynthia Osuchukwu: Thank you.
Pelleura: Please can you share details of your background with us?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: I was born more than two decades ago in Lagos. I obtained my first degree from the University of Lagos and I am in the process of getting further degrees. I am the first child out of four siblings. My family always encouraged independence so I had to learn things like making money, getting good grades and learning survival skills on my own.
Pelleura: What were your dreams like when you were in school?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: My dreams varied from time to time. At one time, I dreamt of being an actress (I think every girl who grew up in the 90s wanted to be an actress) and the next minute, I would dream of being a storyteller. My dreams were not really defined. I just knew I wanted to be successful. That has remained constant.
Pelleura: Are you full time into business? Or do you have a daytime job? Why?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: As a multipotentialite, I am always looking for creative ways to make money. I have a couple of businesses I run.
Do I have a daytime job? Well, I’ll say yes and no. I don’t have a 9-5 job in the strict sense of the word but I have jobs I do during the day. I hope this makes sense. So I guess I do both; run businesses and work. It’s all about discipline and having a good team. I do things because I can.
Pelleura: Please tell us what your business is about.
Cynthia Osuchukwu: I sell foodstuff and deliver cooked meals to busy families (@foodhubafrica), I run an agency that handles digital marketing, website design, branding, logo making etc, (@25pointzero) then, of course, other businesses that catch my fancy. I see my blog syncityng.com (@syncityng) as a literary business as well. I am a business too. I ghostwrite for a living (@mystiquesynn). Some of these businesses are short term while some have existed for close to three years.
Pelleura: What inspired you to start this business?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: When you have a creative mind, business ideas will keep coming. I start those I know I can execute effectively and leave the rest. I also come from a family of businessmen and women. Ambition runs in the family.
Pelleura: What are the obstacles you’ve faced and how were you able to overcome them?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: A major obstacle is getting the right team. A lot of people don’t want to work. They just want to sit on social media and beg all day. I have trained people for free and helped as many as I can but a lot of youths are lazy. They want to identify with your success but do not want to embark on the journey. To a lot of individuals, hard work is no longer fashionable.
Another obstacle is obviously the business terrain in Nigeria. Things are not working. There is no power, expensive data charges, death-trap roads, lack of support and lack of technical know-how. I haven’t overcome some of these challenges but one mantra I repeat daily is that you can’t stop a determined woman. I always have a Plan B or find a way out of any problems that may arise. There are no excuses. If I have a job, I get it done. That’s the promise I give to my clients.
Pelleura: In a country like ours, do you think the government has put in place structures that help small business survive?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: Definitely no. A lot of institutions in the private sector are making up for this, though. Some of them support small-scale businesses in terms of funding and collaborations. For example, my agency helps small and medium scale businesses and startups create catching logos, website, social media management, and digital marketing for a modest sum.
Pelleura: So presently, what are those achievements you’ve made in your business and what future goals are you aiming for?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: My bio contains some of the achievements I have made these past few years. For me, the future is limitless. The Universe always comes through for those who are diligent and consistent in their duties.
Pelleura: How have you used social media to your advantage?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: Most of my clients come from social media. I try to put my work out there and this has brought a lot of referrals. I am grateful for the blessing of social media.
Pelleura: What’s the most important social media activity you engage in daily, to grow your business?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: I show up. That’s basically all I do. When people see you perfect your craft on social media over and over again, it sticks to their memory. When they need you, they will reach out. Just engage your followers frequently and be good at what you do.
Pelleura: Do you have your own online platform?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: Yes, I do. Syncityng.com is my blog and coincidentally, Nigeria’s fastest-growing literary blog. We have interviews with guests like author and First lady of Kaduna state, Hadiza El-Rufai, Brunel Poetry Prize winners and a lot of local and international African creatives.
Pelleura: If you were to do it all over again, would you choose to start and grow a business, or would you rather stick to paid employment?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: Basically, I’ll stick to anything that makes me live the lifestyle I want. People(especially motivational speakers) scoff at paid employment. The popular line they use is “If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will use you to build theirs”. To be honest, we can’t all be entrepreneurs. People have to work for people. Some salary earners earn what some entrepreneurs can’t dream off.
In the same vein, entrepreneurship comes with a myriad of opportunities and freedom. It also puts you in the spotlight and can make you realize your fondest dreams. I think people should be left to decide the path they want to tow. Whatever works.
Pelleura: What advice do you have for other small business owners?
Cynthia Osuchukwu: You can’t build a business with people who are not excited about your vision. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself until you get the right team. Be persistent. Push. Know when to pause but keep moving.
Well, that’s it, guys. I hope you learned something from this strong woman with high ambitions. If you’re going to be an employer or employee, give it your best shot. Keep pushing, don’t be lazy, and you’ll surely get there.
Thanks so much, Cynthia Osuchukwu for your time and encouraging words. It was a pleasure knowing you more. May you keep soaring.