Meet Winifred Emmanuel, Founder of Zeelicious Foods
A few people have the tenacity to diligently pursue their passion to create a business empire. Anambra State born Winfred Emmanuel is one of them. She is the brain behind the culinary brand known as Zeelicious Foods. From making dishes which she used to post online, Zeelicious, has in 3 years become one of the most recognisable food brands out of West Africa.
Like other mates of hers, Winfred had grown under normal parents, determined to study to earn a degree and get a job that will avail the comforts of life. With an Economics degree from the University of Lagos, and very few job opportunities available, her career options, would change, when she was taking part in the National Youth Service Corps.
While a lot of her colleagues were learning such skills as hair-dressing, interior décor and the likes, Winfred decided to follow her age-long passion-cooking. “Like everyone, I wanted to graduate from school, get a 9 to 5 job, and make money. I went to school, got out of school and I had to serve. During my first three weeks at the NYSC camp, there was this programme called SAED. It’s about entrepreneurship; we were to choose a particular skill and learn. My friends went into hair-making, and make-up, but I wasn’t interested. Something in me just said I should go into the catering class, so I went there and I was interested in what I learnt. I had always loved to cook before camp, but after camp, I got a motivation to go into it fully. I would post some food online and I found out that people would ask me for the recipe, the ingredients, so I decided to run a food blog,” she says.
That food blog has metamorphosed into a TV channel which started on YouTube but has today grown with a soaring subscriber base into a conventional TV series with audiences around the world.
She says: “I started as a blog, I wanted to move up to the next level, my plan was to have a TV show because it was difficult, I haven’t really proven myself and no one was willing to give me that opportunity. YouTube was a platform that was free, it is still free for anyone to join. When I discovered YouTube, I felt that was the platform I have been waiting for since TVs are not coming for me because they don’t believe in me. I created a channel on YouTube and created contents that have to do with culinary art. I put out tutorials, and amazingly when I started, the goal I set for myself was to get 5,000 subscribers. But in 6 month, we got 50,000 subscribers and in one year, we were in 100,000.”
With this relative success, Winfred is not done yet. She intends creating other platforms that will further entrench her culinary skills amongst audiences.
She has her plans. “It’s a whole new world over here; I don’t even know which one to talk about first. For me it is about creating value, we have so many things in the pipeline, I am working on a cook book which I am going to launch, and there is a major platform we are working on too.”