|Stella Ndekile, C.E.O NUBAN BEAUTY|
NUBAN BEAUTY came into being after I got frustrated with my job; I wasn’t happy at my workplace. I actually began my journey into the world of makeup during my NYSC year when I took up a skill acquisition programme in makeup as part of my CDS. I learnt how to do makeup, facials, and nails. I was excited that I could do makeup and still practice my profession as a medical lab scientist even though my husband and parents didn’t quite understand me.
After NYSC, I started working as a Medical Laboratory Scientist at the University of Lagos but I was selling makeup on the side. I found out that most makeup brands were not focusing on our skin tones and shades in Africa, and most of these products were expensive. These became the challenges I faced as a makeup seller, and I knew I had to fix these problems. I actually started as Stella Makeovers; I was selling makeup products and also continued as a makeup artist. Our first products were the beauty blenders. I remember how we took our beauty blenders and some other products from foreign brands to The Makeup Fair as Stella Makeovers. I took goods worth 300,000 naira to the fair and made only 30,000 naira at the end of the day. I got back to the house and started crying. But the good thing about life is that when you have a fighting spirit, you get up and fight back when you are pushed to the wall. I was dejected and couldn’t sleep but as I was scrolling through my phone, I sawa post by Strive Masiyiwa which read “online is the new real estate”. He explained how one can make money online without having a physical store, and at that moment, I knew God was speaking to me. So I did my research and found a guy in ‘Yaba’ who could help me register an online store, he told me I had to pay 30,000 naira and that was the exact amount I made from The Make Up Fair, the previous day. I had a meeting with him and he said he couldn’t register the business as Stella Makeovers because it wasn’t available. I went home and found all the names I had in mind had been taken, so I continued thinking about a unique name until I stumbled on NUBAN BEAUTY which came from the NUBAN introduced by banks when they reduced account numbers to 10. I needed something that would scream Africa, I tried NUBIAN but the domain wasn’t available so I chose NUBAN and added BEAUTY. I was still working as a civil servant, so I couldn’t afford to employ anyone. I learnt how to do Facebook marketing, Instagram ads and everything that had to do with my online business. I also sold on Jumia and Konga, that was where I got my first training selling online. I took advantage of my annual leaves to learn more and take major steps for the business growth until I eventually left my job and faced NUBAN BEAUTY.
The only time I miss my job as a Medical Lab Scientist is when my children fall sick and we need to do blood tests and see doctors. I am happy with the way NUBAN BEAUTY is growing fast and making a huge impact in the world of makeup.
I met the celebrity makeup artist, Flawless Faces By Jane during the period I was sending our products out to beauty influencers and makeup artists. I had so many unpleasant experiences as some of these influencers never got back to me, and some would actually scream at me when I called to get feedback. But I was thankful that I still had my job as a civil servant and I kept sending mails to so many beauty influencers until I got a response from Jane where she noted that she was a huge fan of beauty blenders and wouldn’t mind seeing mine. She loved my beauty blenders and told me when I called her. After two week, she called to ask if she could be my brand Ambassador. This was how the partnership started, and we had our first photo shoot which was a success. I founded the company, but we both own NUBAN BEAUTY now.
We still haven’t gotten it right as a country when it comes to production of goods and services, because Nigeria is still developing. Electricity is a major challenge, and the high cost of living isn’t helping matters. So I currently have to rely on manufacturing abroad.
I started NUBAN BEAUTY because I had to produce makeup that is specifically made for Africans and I can say confidently that I have achieved this to a great extent. It’s still a growing business, but we are getting there. We just released our concealers which had been in the works for over a year. We are working on more products, and we are doing a lot of work to ensure that they fit ‘the African skin’ well.
Entrepreneurship is hard but you need to start that thing you have a passion for and keep going at it even when the chips are down. The makeup business is getting saturated but what you really need to ask yourself is “what am I bringing to the table that is different from what every other person is doing”? I am now very proud of myself, and know my kids will feel the same way when they grow up. What I love most about what I do is the satisfaction I get when someone uses our products and screams in excitement.
Interviewed conducted by Qismat Yinus, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, thatisaleekochick.com
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