Maryam Aliyu-Baba is a verified member of Bellafricana and the winner of the best innovative product of the year 2021 at the recently held African Creative Exhibition and Awards. A military wife, mother of four, an entrepreneur and CEO of Clay by Marienne. I had the opportunity to meet the Founder of Clay by Marienne for an exclusive interview.
Please introduce yourself and your background
I am Maryam Aliyu-Baba C.E.O. clay by Marienne. A passionate designer with a BA in Industrial Design (ceramics major) from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, M.Sc. Hazard Management and Emergency Response IRGIB Africa University and the Winner ACE Awards (2021) best innovative product.
Tell us about your work. How did your company start?
The company started as Marienne art as a student experiencing the pleasure of creating, and the joy of seeing your creations add elegance to spaces. This passion took a back seat as I started having babies. We resumed mid-2021 and evolved into Clay by Marienne after learning that clay is much more than just art but indeed what we were made from and is indeed one with our bodies, possessing amazing healing abilities. It is also good for the environment and has no negative effect on climate, making it the next best thing and an amazing replacement for plastic and other culinary wares.
How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
Marienne is French for Maryam, so the name is pretty straightforward.
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
The average global citizen with an awareness of personal health and overall wellbeing, people with health complications who are looking to make a holistic lifestyle change. The market is viable because we as humans are constantly seeking ways to improve wellbeing.
Where do you get the inspiration for your products?
Having children, and being exposed to a whole new set of health issues and remedies, and brought about the move to this range of products. Design inspirations come from my creativity and imagination, brainstorming with team members, ideas online and feedback from our esteemed customers.
Can you remember one of the first products you made? What makes it memorable?
Yes, I can. It was a set of 3 long neck tabletop vases. They are so memorable because I created them while trying to answer my 300level first semester exams.
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
Introducing this new product range to the people and getting them on board. It Is quite challenging to get people to make a lifestyle change.
Do you have any regrets about venturing into this line of business?
None; except that I did not come across the knowledge to kick start earlier.
What is your most popular product?
It will have to be the alkaline water bottle series.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
To a very large extent, as it is common knowledge that traditional African homes would bury clay pots to store drinking water.
What are some of your short term and long term goals, both in your business and life in general?
In business, I look forward to spreading the word and getting as many people as possible on board this journey to a healthier more intentional living; growing the brand and becoming a household name home and abroad.
In life, I look forward to continued learning and being the best possible role model for my growing children and the upcoming generation.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I started out as a B.Sc Chemistry student and made the switch partway after discovering the beauty of the design.
What profession would you be in if you weren’t in this industry?
I would be a counsellor or a Teacher.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business in your industry, what would it be?
It would be that you should start where you are and with what you have. There is never a perfect time/ situation.
There you have it. An exclusive interview with the Founder of Clay by Marienne. To connect with her, you can follow her via:
Instagram – Clay by Marienne
WhatsApp – WhatsApp Clay by Marienne