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Beauty Africa | Part 2: Beauty Panel Business Talk

As promised in true Stella’s Addiction style I will be sharing with you some of the amazing knowledge I pickup at the recently concluded Beauty Africa Conference and Expo. On the first day of the expo I turn up bright and early determined not to miss any of the beauty talks, and I am glad to report they did not disappoint. I spent the morning on the tip of my seat soaking in as much as possible from these amazing women and left truly inspired by their stories and how they overcame their obstacles..

Left to right: Eryca Freemantle, Khuraira Musa, Oke Maduewesi, Lola Maja-Okojevoh, Funmi Odegbami, Ada Iwuogo.

Meet the panel of  successful Nigerian beauty business women:
Khuraira Musa: President of Khuraira Cosmetics & Celebrity Makeup Artist
Funmi Odegbami: Managing Director, Mink London
Eryca Freemantle:Global Beauty Ambassador for women of colour & strategic industry intelligence
Ada Iwuogo: Commercial Director, House of Tara
Oke Maduewesi: CEO & Managing Director Zaron Cosmetics
Lola Maja-Okojevoh: Makeup artist & Owner Sacred beauty
Moderator: Teniola Adejuwon of Beauty by Nature Inc

What advice would you give a new Makeup Artist that wants to stand out and create a niche for herself in a competitive industry

KM:First of all you need to be passionate. Get a mentor, someone willing to train you. Its the norm in the US but here in Nigeria we are really talented but everyone is in a hurry to start a brand. Before you start a successful brand like Tara you need to pay your dues. I worked behind the counter at other brands for years before branching out on my own. Working for others first gives you the opportunity to learn on the job. Be open minded and willing to learn. Even after starting the business you need to learn to run it and sustain it because the bigger you get the harder it gets.

OM: I prefer case studies to text books because they showed me people who made it and so I asked myself if they can do it, why can’t I. I use Zaron and myself as a case study to challenge and inspire people.
-1stthing is the power of the mind. We often see ourselves really small. You need to believe in yourself. I lost my husband at 30 in a plane crash while 6 months pregnant for my second daughter. At the time I was a banking officer earning barely N70k. I had no idea what to do next. I was challenged and determined not to be the face of widowhood. I said to myself I would not beg, borrow or be hungry.Right from that moment I knew I would work hard and fulfil our dreams. Tara and I did not inherit what we have today, we came from nowhere and worked hard determined to make a difference and make a change and that’s how we got where we are today. We do not challenge ourselves enough. We need to work on our minds, trust that we can do it and we will.

How do I build my clientele? Build a brand? Become a celebrity Makeup artist

LMO: “Celebrity MUA’ is how people should describe you and not how you should describe yourself.”I’m a working makeup artist first and foremost. Its what I do and its how I pay my bills. I know you want to build a brand but first you need to be more concerned with what you do on a day top day basis, If you loose sight of that you will not be successful.
If you think your work is better than any of ours come and show it to us, next time I might be giving you a job because I need someone with your skills and after you might be the one calling me to give me a job. Its not about feeling too big, we are all here to help each other and learn from each other.
We have issues with everyone trying to steal each others clients, you cannot build your own clientele by stealing other peoples clients. You cannot get a job under name of a brand and collect the clients name on the side “ call me directly next time I will give you a discount”That money will never be sweet in your hand because if she can do it to me she will do it to you.

When you are starting your own business start of with your own clients, do not steal clients from someone else because they will not respect you, you will be second rate to them and that’s why you’ll have problems with clients that do not want to pay you.
How do you get clients? Through recommendation. Advertising works too but never advertise with other peoples work because that is what the client will expect. Use your own best work, no matter what it is use it. Always do your best on a job, even on your worst day then ask yourself “will this client recommend me?”People are much quicker to condemn you than they are to recommend you. So make sure you do your best every time.

How to expand services out of town…

Ada: We have about 20 stores now but they didn’t happen over night. Before we go to a new location we wait till we get a lot of enquiries for it then we look at the market to ensure there is a real opportunity. Its about the demand from the clients and giving them what they want as opposed to what you think they want.

How to go global?

EF: I became a makeup artist by complete accident. To start of where I did and end up where I am it really was by accident. How do you go global? 1st know your worth. As individuals we all have a USP (Unique selling point) you need to know what yours is and run with it. USPs are usually discovered in training. Many MUAs endeavour to emulate our icons so we try to make our work look like theirs. I know a lot of amazing self taught MUAs but a certification really does make a difference.
How do you then become a global brand? Its about education and training, its about getting a mentor and the people you invite into your space. From my own heart and my own observation I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world where there are as many talented MUA as there are in Nigeria but you need the knowledge to be able to do makeup for different skin tones, understand different cultures and needs.
Don’t have to stick to makeup artistry, there is so much more that you can do. Makeup artistry can be a foundation, I don’t do makeup applications anymore but I product develop, teach and consult for brands. Now I actually create makeup lines for multinational brands.

What do you think we need to learn more?

FOIts a really exciting time for makeup and beauty in Nigeria and its great to be a part of that.
I run a makeup school in London which I founded by accident. After taking a makeup class and coming out none the wiser on how to do makeup on my dark skin I realised the problem was the training. So I made it my life’s purpose to find a better way of teaching people in an intuitive way. Makeup is not just eyeliner here and you need this and you need that. Its about looking at a persons face; her unique features and making her look the best that she can look. I founded the school in 2005 to give back all the knowledge I had spent years accumulating. We are up against bigger schools but we still win awards because of the content of our courses.
When people leave they are taught to think as individuals, like creative beings. Its not about regurgitating what the teacher told you. One of the ways we enforce that is through the agency, we’ve teamed up with many production agencies, modelling agencies and fashion houses, when we first started we begged them to try our student for free, now they call us to book our students and they pay!
We get a lot of students from Nigeria but because we know not everyone can afford that we’ve started online classes. This is better than youtube, its is a more rounded education with lots of different teachers, models, face shapes, just to re emphasis that you can’t do the same makeup on every face.

What to look out for when picking schools?

When picking a school look out for what the school produces. Are they working makeup artists? What are they doing? They don;t have to have accreditation to be good schools but accreditation tells you that an outside body has looked at the school and found it to be of a high standard. Another benefit of accreditation is that when you go out to look for work internationally, your education will be recognised. Certification are not obligatory to find work but like looking for any another type of job, it will give you an edge over the rest of the applicants. Look for courses that address a wide range of skin tones, as a makeup artist you need to be able to do makeup for anyone put in front of you, look for courses that will get you places; give you work like an internship or retail.

What is your response to people saying Nigerian women wear too much makeup especially when client asks for it.

EF: What you need to remember as an artists is that its really not about you. Its about what your client wants and how she is made to feel. If she wants blue eye shadow on one eye and green on the other that is her preference, she is paying for that. As long as you as the artist allow her to feel free and to express herself. Makeup save lives and brings women out of depression. If one green eye one blue is what will make the difference then your work is done.

LMO: One size does not fit all, don’t go in there with one concept. Communication is key, speak to your client because with a client you are building a relationship its 20% skill and 80% relationship. Speak to them and find out what they want, then start out light and build it up.

OM: Its also about educating your clients because sometimes they really don’t know. I always say makeup is not for making you something you are not its there to enhance what you have. At Zaron if a client wants a certain look we don’t think is best for her we suggest she try something else with the assurance that we will change it if she does not like it and they always love it. The customer is king but sometimes you can politely suggest they try something new.

Last words: If you don’t remember anything else, remember this 

“Passion is very important” Khuraira Musa &Tara Durotoye

“Know your worth” Eryca Freemantle
“Practise day to day practise and getting better at what you do” Lola Maja-Okojevoh
“Look out for a school with content relevant to you”  Funmi Odegbami
“Believe in yourself and trust that we can do it and you will” Oke Maduewesi
“Give your clients what they want and not what you think thy want” Ada Iwuogo

Did you catch the 1st post in this series? Beauty Africa: The Conference & Exhibition in Pictures
Next Up Makeup Demo by Fatima Mamza

If you missed the event or parts of the talk I hope you found this helpful, and if you did feel free to tell me so in the comments below


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