Codilia Gapare: From Masvingo to surviving Cancer in the UK… then striking Exclusive Boots Pharmacy deal #NehandaDiaspora
Picking yourself up after sudden setbacks can sometimes prove to be a daunting task, especially if all your hopes are seemingly dashed in one afternoon. However, for Codilia Gapare, the setbacks proved to be the catalyst for her elevation to the next level.
From surviving breast cancer to coming up with an innovative eye lash that has been a game changer for people who have lost their own lashes, Codilia’s story is one that should inspire many.
Gapare is no quitter. If anything she embodies the saying that when life throws you lemons you make lemonade. The award winning entrepreneur is a relentless dreamer and achiever who refuses to get pegged back by the bumps on the road before she arrives at her destination.
The mother of two who turned her life around after setbacks is the brains behind C-Lash by Cody, a false eyelash that is specifically made for people who have lost their own lashes.
The idea came to her after she got diagnosed with cancer in 2014, a key point in her life story that was to also change the lives of other cancer patients in due time. It is often agreed that necessity is the mother of all invention and Codilia started brooding on the idea of coming up with her own lashes when she started undergoing treatment and noticed something.
“When I started treatment I lost all of my hair, including my lashes, I suddenly realised that there was a problem. Mainstream lashes are made to stick or rest onto your natural lashes, so once you lose them, wearing lashes becomes almost impossible at a time when you actually need lashes.
“So, I came up with a lash that attaches to the eyelid rather than the lash. It blends with the skin and you can apply makeup to it just like your normal eyelid,” she explains.
It is easy to look at many stories and assume that in every story of triumph plain sailing was the norm, but it is not so. Today, her products are exclusively available in Boots Pharmacies countrywide in the UK but she will tell you that C-Lash by Cody is the culmination of shock, strength, hope and innovation as she had to harness all the energies around her to forge a way forward in the trying journey that many go through when undergoing treatment for cancer.
C-Lash and the prospect it held for others like her propelled her to push herself despite the circumstances.
“In the beginning, I started working on the idea to distract myself from the pain of cancer treatment and from depression that was caused by being forced to drop out of Law School after working really hard to get into University in the first place.
“C-Lash became my excuse and reason because I needed to stay strong for my boys. By the time I finished treatment, that idea had gained so much momentum that I thought I owed it to the people who would benefit from the idea to keep on going,” she said, explaining the birthing of her idea.
The astonishing strength of the UK based entrepreneur knew no bounds. On the same day she was diagnosed with cancer she was to have an interview for a law degree, literally a few hours later, realising that no matter the circumstances life has to go on.
“On the 11th of August 2014 at 3pm I was told I had breast cancer, at 6pm that same day I was at Manchester Met University having an interview for my Law Degree. Even though I was forced to drop out of University because of illness, I taught myself a very important lesson.
“I cannot let a chapter of my life be the whole book of my life. That one decision helped me realise that I was stronger than I thought. If there is a lesson to learn from my story, it is this; life is tough but so are you,” she says.
With the support of a close knit family and friends Codilia managed to not only find strength in her ordeal but quickly went on an accelerated personal growth drive.
She recounts her early days in the UK in 2004 and doing various manual jobs before training to be a croupier in a casino in Manchester. She laughingly recalls how she went on from being the girl bottom in her class at school to reading for her MBA, from being a Data Analyst and leaping to become a business owner in 2014.
Being the middle child in her family and invariably doted on , she had to adjust a lot when she settled in the diaspora and dealing with cancer whilst working full time but she saw it through despite no one taking her business seriously in the initial stages as she had never worked in the beauty industry.
“Starting a business without any business background was bold and from the time I came up with the idea to the time that it was launched, there was a long period of uncertainty that was quite a challenge for me mentally and financially and to aspiring business people I say to them, ‘If you have something that you are thinking of doing, start today. You don’t need to see the whole staircase to take the first step. The universe will show you the way, just start already!”
Codilia’s story offered hope and motivation for many people and she has been rightly recognised and celebrated for her innovative work and empowering efforts.
Besides winning various awards, she has been feted by the mainstream press, getting featured and profiled by The Sun, BBC and Newsday Metro, among others. She is currently working on her bigger project C-Life – A Life Less Ordinary which is about empowering women with cancer.
Codilia is a true champion and is inspired by her parents who she says instilled in her a hunger for knowledge and hard work and always advised her to ‘never live a parasitic life’.
Today, now with her own family she has a way of helping her boys in maintain a hunger for life in a manner she hopes others also take to…
“In my living room, the boys and I have got what we call ‘The Wall of Dreams’. We put all our hopes and dreams on there and motivate each other to reach our goals.
“It helps to make my kids realise that I am human too and I have the same struggles that they have and same with everyone else, we can all win and come out stronger.”
“Keeping yourself motivated when there are outside voices whispering doubt in your ear takes a certain kind of mental power to keep yourself going.”
In this series, Nehanda Radio shines a spotlight on the many talents and contributions of a diverse number of Zimbabweans who are flying the country’s flag in the diaspora.
With estimates suggesting that over 3 million Zimbabweans are in the diaspora, just what are some of them doing. Let’s find out together.