TOBI KEENEY : Surviving complications from caesarian section inspired me

Tobi Ayodele Keeney is an entrepreneur and Managing Director of Quincy Herbal Slimmers. In this interview with Yetunde Oladeinde, the daughter of the celebrated herbal slimming specialist takes you into her world, challenges after going through a caesarian operation that almost killed her as well as how this opened her eyes to a number of opportunities.

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Tell us about your experience working on herbals?

It has been awesome but challenging experience working with medicinal plants for healing. Currently, it is quite a rigorous process in preparing herbs for use in a preparation that is sustainable, easy to measure the dosages and measure progress in an objective manner.

However, I must say that I tend to see problems are opportunities for improvement, knowledge gaining, transfer and success.  Another major experience that is challenging but rewarding is having to integrate traditional medicine with our currently westernized but outdated healthcare system.

What has been the experience since you took over from your mum?

It has been a great experience especially with the wealth of knowledge gained through my apprenticeship with Dr Mrs Quincy Ayodele. As you can see, I do not call her mother in this context due to professionalism at work. As people, especially as women, we must wear many hats depending on the situation we find ourselves in. We have both evolved in our work with each other, and in keeping with the challenging health situations of our ever-changing environment. Luckily for her, I am a very patient person and luckily for me, she is extremely flexible for a middle-aged mother from Ogun State.

Tell us about some of the memorable moments in your life and career?

I would say that opening our integrative clinic and laboratory in Ikoyi in the middle of the COVID pandemic was a great accomplishment for me and my company.  Other memorable moments for me would include seeing our products on Amazon.com and getting great reviews from people of all races purchasing our products from different parts of the world.  As we were formulating some of the products several years prior, we didn’t imagine it reaching Amazon.com in the United States. The best part is our selling point and this is because they are made in Nigeria.

Finally, a global marketplace gave us the platform to list a Nigerian brand selling made in Nigeria products without fear of people thinking its fake or substandard.

What are some of the challenges?

The current global pandemic has been a major challenge. This is because the virus has affected all strata of the society in many ways. It made things and processes harder and more stressful for good reasons. A second challenge includes needing to educate the public on the importance of going back to our roots in terms of traditional medicine as a means for achieving better health.

It has been challenging having to change the mindset of our people to begin to develop a sense of pride and trust in our identity in general which extends down to our healthcare.  I would add that Nigerians have forgotten or have been trained (brainwashed) against understanding the infinite benefits of medicinal plants for treating a lot of diseases that we are currently being plagued with.

In addition, we have rejected our food, our herbs, our cultural beliefs and value systems, our pride as Nigerians and have replaced it with diets, beliefs and ideologies that are foreign to our spirit, soul and bodies and it’s reflecting a lot in our health and wellness.

I would also add that some chronic illnesses, formerly seen as foreign such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, fibroids and even auto-immune diseases are beginning to become resident and even pestilent in our country.

The third challenge is basically finding a balance in standardizing traditional medicine and practicing it in a scientific and modern way.  There needs to be more research and development for African traditional medicine.  It still amazes me the kinds of medicinal plants and remedies out there and the vast number of conditions just one plant can treat.

So basically, a single plant can have 20 or more alkaloids.  An alkaloid is pretty much an active ingredient. Each active ingredient can have its own unique medicinal properties.  For that reason, a single plant or root or leaf can treat a variety of conditions depending on the dosage and mode of extraction and preparation.  Hence the need for more research and developing of this indigenous medicinal plants.  There are more challenges, but I will stop at these three.

What or who inspires the things you do?

I have a deep passion to solve the problem of inaccessible, ineffective, and poorly managed healthcare of the Nigerian populace. I experience fulfillment seeing my patients ‘graduate’ from a state of constant sickness to a state of constant, conscious, and intentional wellness and health. That graduate becomes a micro or even major healthy living influencer and begins to also transform the health of others around him or her.  That is what inspires me.

What are some of the other things that occupy your time?

I am a very busy person, but I try to catch up on current events especially relating to healthcare and beauty.  I also like to watch documentaries, or just random knowledge stuff.  In my truly spare time, I enjoy shopping for a good deal.

Tell us about the people you admire?

I would say I admire my parents a lot.  I admire their simple way of life, humor, work ethic and the way they raised us. They were not strict parents but did an awesome job in guiding us through our lives.  Additionally, they gave us a lot of guided independence which I feel made us be more responsible to ourselves. They were also inspired by my dad’s mother and my mother’s dad who also inspired my siblings and me. Those people were the most caring, generous, and truly genuine people I knew.  May their souls rest in perfect peace.

What would you consider as the turning point in your career?

That turning point, would be when I fell ill because of this unfortunate complication of having my kids via cesarean section, and western medicine failed me. They told me to go home to die as my intestines and abdominal organs were all fused together, and I could not digest solid food.  I went back to traditional medicine and nutrition medicine and I was able to escape death, discover true wellness and achieve more things that I didn’t know about before I fell ill.

That was the turning point in my career. It made me realize the need to switch to integrative medicine, the true meaning of eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle both physically and emotionally.  That illness totally changed my world view and my attitude towards life in general.  I feel that no one must go through the stress of fibroids, infertility, pain or whatever it is I had to go through and if I know the key to avoiding or reversion of those issues, then everyone should be given the opportunity to know as well.

Did you feel like quitting at any point?

I am not a quitter, so I always find ways to pull through challenging situations especially with the situation of the country that we live in.  I am a patient person and know that nothing good and lasting comes easy.

What are you looking forward to in the next few years?

I am looking forward to expanding Quincy’s Wellness’s model of integrative approach to health and replicating this model all over Nigeria and beyond. We have a standard laboratory on site with rapid diagnostic test results, a healing spa, home care medical and laboratory services and we are experts at reversing chronic diseases and obesity.  We are also experts in skincare and specialize in bringing out a more vibrant and youthful version of yourself.  We are basically a one stop shop for all your health and wellness needs.

What advice do you have for young people who want to come into the sector?

My first advice is this; If you do not have a passion for healing people despite all (meaning you don’t mind giving your arm to make sure a patient gets well), then please do not go into the sector in the first place.  In traditional medicine especially, you find yourself having to treat many people for free just so their lives are saved. Secondly, if you do have a passion for this sector, then make sure you get the right education and apprenticeship. Always have it at the back of your mind that you are a problem solver and keep finding ways to take initiatives and make a difference.  This sector is for forward thinkers not a place to be cashing in.

How did COVID 19 affect your business?

It was a blessing in disguise. It made us expand our minds and look outside the box.  I mean in terms of business model, customer service, services offered and more.  COVID was part of the reason we decided to expand to a full integrative and wellness clinic complete with a laboratory. I thank God for clearing our eyes in the middle of the storm to become solution providers to a major problem.

Do you have young people that you are Mentoring?

Yes, I do. My clinic team is full of young people, so I mentor daily at work.  I am also a teen church teacher, first born, first granddaughter on one side of my family and my parents are one of the oldest among several. By reason of my birth alone and combined with my responsibilities, I mentor a lot of young people.