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How Yusif Meizongo created a business out of people loving his perfume, whenever he tried selling items to them



From the trunk of a motorbike, he started a small business after many unsuccessful attempts to make ends meet with his first-class honors degree.

In this episode of ‘Q&A with William’, Yusif Meizongo (@whatyouwantco) talks about his journey into perfumery, letting go of his first love, the highs and lows, and the glorious moments as one of the most sought-after, go-to perfume brand.

Q: Tell me about yourself and how “What You Want” started?

A: My name is Yusif Meizongo Jnr, the last of nine siblings and a graduate of Islamic University. I hold a first-class Degree honors in Public Relations. ‘What You Want’ started off as a very little initiative from the trunk of my motorbike. After school, I wanted to join the rat race to use my certificate to get a decent white-collar job but that never materialized. Each time I tried to work in an office space, my instincts kept telling me, “this is not you, you can do better” So after many unsuccessful attempts, I pushed into buying and selling of clothes, timepieces, sneakers, slimming products, etc. which also didn’t work for me. But I realized that people, whom I sold to, ended up falling in love with the fragrance I wore. All those who bought from me started requesting for perfumes instead of the watches. And that’s how the whole idea started.

Q: If I get you right, the idea came as a result of people liking your fragrance and the kind of perfume you wore?

A: Yes, I’ve always been a lover of perfumes from childhood. I love good scents… I always get great compliments about my perfumes.

Q: What is ‘What You Want’ about?

A: We are more into pure undiluted perfume oils because they rationally last longer than the alcohol-based fragrance, that’s if it is original. What You Want is a worldwide brand with reps in South Africa, America, London Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Togo, etc so it is not just in Ghana.

A: You talked about starting on your motorbike. For how long did you do that? 

A: I did that from January to August 2018.

Q: How did you get money to start these businesses?  

A: I never got any capital! That is why I started on a small scale. All I was doing was to fully reinvest the profit into the business. I advised myself never to touch my business money no matter how much I get, even when I’m hungry and that is how it has been even up till now.

Q: Tell us about the bad times?

A: You know, people support you with their mouths until you really need that support and that was what I faced. You only get people to show interest when things start getting better. You are not supposed to have everything easy, some would have to come tough sometimes. But in all, it was good for me because I wanted to learn the hard way. I wanted to have my own share of experiences so I can also tell someone. I went through tough times. As a startup, people were very skeptical of the products, the issue about trust is one that can nearly break you but you have to persist.

Q: At the time when people around you failed you, did you at any point want to quit?

A: Yes, there were so many times I wanted to quit. As a Gemini, I pick myself up whenever I’m down. Some friends around me encouraged me and when things go bad, I said to myself, you worship a true God who listens to your prayers, just keep pushing and things will soon make sense. That was how I kept doing until things started taking shape.

Q: How heartbreaking was it at the time for you?

A: Very heartbreaking when people you had high hopes in turned their backs on you. Before I started this business, I was a footballer. I played in Cote d’Ivoire. I traveled to a lot of places to play football but it didn’t work for me.

Q: Did you ever envisage yourself selling perfumes?

A: No! I always thought I would become the next Lionel Messi, Aguero… name it! But here we are. Hahaha

Q: What are some of the challenges you face running such a business?

A: Dealing with a bunch of skeptical people and also lack of support.

Q: When you started where were you sourcing your perfumes?

A: When I started I didn’t have direct contact. I had to use a third party to get my stuff, so I did business for a very long time and subsequently, he willingly gave me the pass to the main sources because we built some trust between us. But now I source from all over the world.

Q: Starting off as someone who barely knew the scope of the business, how did you move to reach all these people you source from?

A: It is marketing and branding. To be able to catch someone’s eye without making so much noise, your products must speak for itself. Also, I travel around too so I try to make new contacts.

Q: How do you convince in your case, skeptical people?

A: I don’t convince people, all I do is to move around with samples. I apply an amount on your hand and allow you to go. If you love it, you’ll come back.

Q: What is the biggest factor that has helped you up to this point?

A: Honesty is my biggest key. If you sell something bad to someone you don’t expect the person to return. So yes, honesty has been my biggest key.

Q: As a young entrepreneur, what mistakes have you made along the way?

A: I think I sort of breached my affiliation with the Bond Number 9 perfume brand. I tagged them in a post I think they weren’t really happy about which lead to me losing my IG page. But we’re back in business now.

Q: What would you say was the hardest decision you ever had to make to make this business what it is now?

A: Staying consistent is not easy and quitting football. It was a very tough decision for me. I just woke up one Monday morning and decided not to go back to football again.

Q: Why do I feel it is a decision that still hurts you?    

A: Of course, I’ve been passionate about this all my life just one Monday I quite. It still hurts me because of the love and passion I have for football.

Q:  What inspires you?

Personal hygiene. I think I’m more in tune with perfumes because I hate bad odor. I don’t like it.

Q: Who inspires you as a businessman?

The life of Mayweather because he is a perfectionist! There’s never been a boxer who has been consistent like him. We all know of his family story and for someone like that to grow up not smoking or drinking to come up top of what he does should be an inspiration for everyone in this world. He tells himself he’s the best boxer to ever walk this earth. So if I sit here and tell you I’m the best perfumer ever, why would you doubt? When you Google the greatest perfumer, the next thing that has to follow is the best perfumer to ever live on this earth.

Q: You recently opened your shop. How easy or difficult was it for you?

A: On the aspect of making this place beautiful and appealing to everyone, it was just tiring but nothing is difficult in this world. Things are tough but nothing is difficult in this world. It took us barely a month to put up the place. I didn’t have the money to put together a store but God showed up and miraculously, sales tripled.

Q: Your shop is full of pictures of many people, how do these personalities inspire you?

A: Their life stories inspire me so much, talk about Mansa Musa, Hallie Selassie, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Fati Mahamudu, Nelson Mandela, JJ Rawlings, etc they are people who inspire me.

Q: What about J J Rawlings do you like?

A: Bravery! In terms of bravery, I see myself as him.

Q: Interesting, how important is branding to your business?

A: Branding is 200%. I think in this contemporary world branding is 80 percent of your sales than the product. These days, people buy brands and not the product. They only find extra magic after they buy the products then they are locked forever. So branding is everything and it is one tool that has helped me up to this point.

Q: What do you attribute your success to?

A: I’m growing but as to where I am right now and the years I gave to myself, from my official point of starting in 2017, I think I’ll say Alhamdulillah “Praise be to God (Allah)” I have surpassed my target, per the years and I think greater things are ahead.

Q: What is Unique about your business?

A: What makes my business unique is the quality of my product and varieties and the kind of scents I make.

Q: How do you manage difficult clients?

A: We use different methods in managing them. Most of the difficult clients are just skeptical that’s why they’re being difficult. It is only a matter of educating them and also giving them time to evaluate things for themselves, that’s all.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for someone who is just starting up a business, what would it be?

A: Prayer and consistency. Hard work and also keep pushing. If you rely on people to give you support you’ll be let down. Rely on yourself to give yourself that support. Support yourself one hundred percent and people will believe in you.

Q: In the next five years where do you want to see yourself?

A: I see myself to be the biggest brand if not worldwide definitely, Africa. The goal is to sell and have a very attractive and well-detailed brand, and Inshallah “If Allah wills it” I will get there.

Alright, thank you so much, Yusif.