Women Who Own It
Unoma Okorafor, Ph.D.
CEO and Founder of Herbal Papaya
What inspired you to start your business?
While pregnant for my third child and looking to indulge in the healthy Papaya fruits I ate while growing up in West Africa, I discovered that most of the Papayas in the USA were genetically modified and offered a different taste and nutrition profile. I began a journey to introduce the world to the same amazing super fruits I grew up eating and enjoying. I am passionate about healthy living and impacting my world. I have a burning desire to share the amazing health benefits of super fruits such as Papaya and Graviola with the world.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Find a mentor who has been a successful entrepreneur who believe in them and can help them grow. Invest in your self through reading, conferences, networking events and trainings. Leadership can be learnt.
What three traits define you?
Persistent, Risk taking, Analytical/Data Driven
What women inspire you?
Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Grace Hopper, Hillary Clinton
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
In the sale of our products which are identified as women owned, it resonates with our customers.
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
People are starting to go back to nature and healthy eating to support overall wellbeing. There seems to be a deeper understanding of body-mind connection and its important role in our health.
As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?
Finding the right people with the right skills to hire and being able to develop them to commit to the business.
What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?
Lack of connection to mentors and training in leadership.
What do you love about being a business owner?
Freedom to chose what to work on and who to work with, ability to be creative and flexibility in my time.
What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?
Uncertainty of the business and the burden of being responsible for other people’s professional engagement and earnings.
How do you define success?
Raising balanced children who contribute positively to society.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
“You can do it all. Just not at the same time” - from my Ph.D. adviser.
What’s your favorite career moment?
Watching and celebrate other people especially women I have helped mentored grow into independent successful leaders in their own right.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Read an inspiring self help book or autobiography.
What are you reading or listening to now?
I’m reading the book “Measure What Matters”
What’s the best way to start your day?
Wake up slowly and spend time meditating and praying.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first female vice president of my country.
How do you unwind after a long workday?
Soak in a hot bath with essential oils and bath salts, candle light, classical or jazz music, and a good book.
What do you like about your workspace?
It is clean, tidy, uncluttered and has a lot of open spaces that allows me think.
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I... slow down, quiet myself and reach inwards to connect with a higher power I call God.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself ... to invest more time in building relationships and friendships.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… the peace I get through my authentic spiritual connection to God, who is a higher power.
By this time next year, I will be… actively building a new technology business.
The best thing that happened to me last week was… hiring an amazing virtual assistant who has already taken a lot off my work load.
To get my creative juices flowing, I…take a quiet walk in nature near water or trees.
Herbal Papaya is the #1 provider of organic super fruit products in the United States. Herbal Papaya's mission is to discover and provide premium quality super fruit and super food products to support healthy living and impact lives.