Entrepreneur’s Success Stories: How Tara Turned Her Facial Make-up Hobby Into A Multi Million Naira Business
This is a success story of how a young Nigerian University student turned her passion for facial make up into a multi million Naira business.
A hobby as we know is something that we do for pleasure, an activity that is neither mandatory nor compelled on us, but which we do effortlessly and tirelessly as pastime.
Everyone has at least a hobby even though some people may not know they do. And if you are such a person who cannot readily point to any, the chance is that you havenâ€™t filled some forms or prepared a CV for job hunting. If you have, then your attention would have been drawn to identifying your hobbies because you would be required to fill in or state them.
These are activities, such as swimming, reading, baking, cooking, singing, dancing, playing games, gardening, hunting, skating, travelling, etc., the list is endless.
And for Tara Fela-Durotoye, the passion was to see ladies stepping out looking beautiful with good facial make-up. It was a consciousness that was rubbed on her from her trendy mother while she was growing up, but which she couldnâ€™t have imagined would bring her fame and fortune years to come.
The Beginning of Tara’s Success Story:
After her secondary school education, Tara took up a job with a perfume and cosmetic store as she waited for her university admission to come through. Here, under the mentorship of the lady owner of the store who was world-class minded and ran her business to international standard, Tara developed great skills in facial make-up artistry, an expertise she took to the university, and which was soon going to bring her great success and make her a house-hold name.
How Success Was Beginning to Smile on Tara:
The story continues. At the Lagos State University, where she was studying Law, Tara wouldnâ€™t allow her friends go for an occasion without a touch on their faces. As it turned out, her touch was not ordinary; it drew lots of commendation from people who saw her works, before long young ladies were willing to pay her to make them up.
â€œSeeing my ability to transform peopleâ€™s faces and make them look nicer, someone said to me, â€œWhy donâ€™t you make this a business?â€ I was initially doubtful about taking such decision â€“ it was my birthday and I had done everybody else up. After some pushing, I said, okay, I will give it a try, and bought my first kit for N15, 000 and started my business,â€ recounted Tara.
That was sometime in 1997 when Tara made the decision to practise as Make-up Artist rather than as Lawyer, which she nevertheless completed studying. It may not have been too difficult a decision for her to make since she had been aware of her artistic talent, which saw her bagging Aâ€™s in Fine Arts exams in the secondary school, coupled with the high praises she was getting from her admirers for her immaculate make-up works.
However, it was a hard thing for her parents and her friends to believe. For anyone then to say she was going to be going about with a make-up kit for faces to touch up, instead of being the more respected Barrister at Law, was preposterous. Worse still was the fact that such practise was not common in Nigeria, and make up artist were not seen as successful people.
Except for the Upper Class people that used the service of Make-up Artist on their weddings, people generally never thought they needed a Make-up Artist to make them up on special occasions.
â€œAt the time I started, make-up was only for the Upper Class, they knew it was a necessity abroad and so equally considered it as such here, and made sure they hired a Make-up Artist for their daughters wedding. It wasnâ€™t that it was expensive; it was just that the Upper Class saw it as a necessity, while the Middle Class saw it as a waste of money. But now things have changed. It has become a standard for Middle Class daddies to pay for the service of a Make-up Artist when their daughters are getting married,â€ said Tara, pointing out the not-so-encouraging prospect of Make-up Artists at the time she took a dive in.
Tara’s Success Story Got a Kick
And that dive was one Tara has never regretted. Indeed, she is deeply glad she took it, for not long after her story changed for good, she struck gold as her business literally exploded.
â€œIt was my second bridal job that was my breakthrough. My client was the daughter of the then Chief of Naval Staff and I was paid what I invested in getting the kit for the job and N10, 000 in addition, that was close to 200% of my investment that I earned on that job. This modest success made me to realize the big opportunity in being a Make-up Artist.
Apart from the money that I made, the wedding was a huge one with the â€œwho-is-whoâ€ in Nigeria in attendance, and of course I was busy doing my touch-ups. People, who I had told before about how I was going to start, but were skeptical, now saw my work and the caliber of person I had done it on and they automatically wanted me to make them up on their wedding. Iâ€™m grateful to God for that opportunity,â€ expressed Tara as she remembered how her business, which she named â€œHouse of Taraâ€, hit success.
From then on Tara’s story never waned as she never got short of clients to make-up. As a matter of fact, she became highly sought after by celebrity brides and her reputation soared so much that no celebrity wanted to be left out of her exquisite touch on her wedding.
Today, with strong innovation, creativity and determination to succeed, Tara has taken her business to a higher level. From being just a Make-up Artist with one or two people coming to assist her on the job, her success story has become a great motivation and inspiration to lots of other young Nigerian entrepreneurs.
She has grown her business into three units comprising Make-up Studio, where people can come in and have their make-up. The Studio also encompasses her Bridal Make-up business â€“ the founding business.
Having reduced her commitment on the Bridal Make-up arm of her business, which hitherto required her giving her clients one-on-one attention, to be more focused on the other two units, which she added two years ago, her income from Bridal Make-up is now only about 2 to 4% of her entire revenue, while her overall income has soared with the diversification.
Tara’s Success Soars:
The other two business units she has grown into are the manufacturing of cosmetics products and the provision of top class training to Nigerians, including school leavers and graduates who desire to become professional Make-up Artist like herself.
Having 25 cosmetics products already in her line, including make-up powders, lipsticks, perfume, manufactured for her in the US, Dubai and China; and with a new vision, which is to become a globally respected African business of Nigerian origin, House of Tara is fast walking in that path. It plans moving into Ghana the coming year before hitting Kenya, Gambia, Senegal, and then Europe and America a few years to come.
A striking thing you will never miss about Taraâ€™s product line is her deep love and penchant to promoting the rich Nigerian culture. The entire product line is named Tara-Orekelewa and each product in the line also has an ethnic name from different parts of the country, such as Iyanriyan, Ovialeke, Omote, Feroshewa, etc.
No doubt, Tara is extremely proud of these names, which are in line with her vision and what her business stands for. Explaining how she came about the names of her products and why she decided to use native names instead of English names she said: â€œI love culture, probably because my Dad was a historian. So when we were about to launch our product line I wanted a name that was ethnic and exotic. And in the course of brainstorming with a friend she suggested Orekelewa, which is a Yoruba word meaning the beauty of a young woman. The name reflects how I began my business as a young lady in the university and also my soft spot for young people – It just became immediately clear to me that was the perfect name to use. However, since the Tara brand was already a known name in the beauty industry, we decided to wrap it up with Orekelewa, but with Tara less prominent.â€
And for her critics, as well as her admirers, who may have out of genuine concern worried that the names she was giving her products were long and that people, especially foreigners, might not be able to pronounce them, Tara had this to assure them she knew where she was heading: â€œPeople would say to me, â€œbut it sounds too long,â€ and I would say to them, Salvatore Feregamo is long, Tomi Hilfinger is long, Ralph Lauren is long, Georgi Amamoto is long. Some of these names are mouth-bending words, but because they stood for quality and they made themselves known brands, weâ€™ve been forced to pronounce their names.
And for me, Iâ€™m looking forward to a time when my productsâ€™ names would be pronounced in every part of the world. I have seen an American, a well known international Make-up Artist in America pronounce Tara-Orekelewa fluently when in a meeting, he asked what my product line was.
The sound of his voice when he pronounced it was the fulfillment of prophesy for me, because soon an average African American would be pronouncing it because we are going to become a global brand. And not only Tara-Orekelewa, the name of all our products, including their meanings will become global. So if our product is leaving Nigeria to, say China or Egypt, someone will be learning something new about Nigerian languages.â€
True to Taraâ€™s expectation, the Tara-Orekelewa brand is fast eating up grounds and competing effectively against foreign brands in the market place. Distributed through direct marketing model, the line offers a fabulous opportunity for students in tertiary institutions, house wives, the unemployed, department store owners, and anyone who love fashion and beauty, and is interested in making money to become their Representatives. With N20, 000, which is the required start up capital for becoming a Rep, Representatives make a hundred percent of whatever product they sell.
Tara’s Ingenious Marketing Success Makes Her Story Even Sweeter:
In addition to giving Reps a huge margin as compensation for sales made, Tara also provides her Reps with adequate training on the products and marketing tactics for them to be able to easily make sales.
Just as her business has transformed over the years from a single unit into three, Taraâ€™s role and responsibility has equally transformed immensely into a managerial and leadership one. Today, she provides innovative strategies and direction for her company, without hurting the home front.
Combining her role as a wife and mother of 2 kids with running the House of Tara and its four branches in Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Lagos effectively well, and considering the gargantuan vision she has for her business and her unshaken determination to reach her goals, Tara is sure to find her name listed in the Nigerian, and indeed, in the African business hall of fame in years to come.