Whenever you talk about the pioneers of the Make Up business in Nigeria, one name that instantly pops up is that of Tara Fela-Durotoye. She is regarded as the Queen of Make Up Business in Nigeria. She is one of those Big Babes, who turned their hobbies into big business. She has paid her dues in the business
She is a lawyer-turned-Beauty entrepreneur, Tara Fela-Durotoye is the founder and C.E.O, House of Tara International. She started the trend of bridal make Up profession in Nigeria. In a series of firsts, she launched the first Bridal directory in Nigeria in 1999. She set up the first make up studio in 2004. And established the country’s first make up school in 2005, launched the Tara Product Line and organised Nigeria’s first Make-Up Conferencein 2014.
She has empowered over 5,000 young ladies with the Tara beauty Representatives’ Initiative that makes them economically independent, while building their entrepreneurial skills for national transformation. House of Tara has become a national brand with 22 branches and over 150 employees and present in most major cities across the country with distribution channels in Kenya and Rwanda and with a plan to expand to other cities in Europe and North America.
Under her leadership, House of Tara business case study was researched and written by Stanford University and currently being used by Ivy League Institutions. She started the Tara Fela Durotoye Series (TFD Series) in 2015 as an initiative to mentor, empower and support women between the ages of 25-35. The TFD series achieves its mission by fostering impactful and life changing dialogue and mentorship between women and dynamic thought leaders across a broad range of areas including business, relationships, home and spirituality.
She has received several national and international Awards for her contribution to the industry and active role in Entrepreneurship and Empowerment. She has been featured on CNN African voices. She was recognised by: The World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, 2013 Forbes list of 20 Young Power Women in Africa, 2013 Choiseul Institute of France Top 100 Young African Business Leaders under 40 in 2014 . Tara is happily married to Fela Durotoye and is blessed with 3 sons.
Not too long ago, City People’s Publisher, Seye Kehinde, spent some quality time with this successful female entrepreneur at her Pent House office in Lekki in Lagos. The entire complex is massive, with an adjoining building, attached to it. Her office is on the 3rd floor and she has a retinue of Managers, Beauty specialists all working for the different aspects of Tara International, which has become a global brand.
Tara, over the last few years, has become a role model to many young girls for her pioneering role in Bridal Make up. At the time she started over 20 years, ago, that field was a virgin territory. She has since built what started as passion into big business. How did she do it. Does she feel fulfilled? She opened up to City People in this interview.
How do you feel, when you look back at what you’ve been able to achieve in the Make-Up industry?
I feel happy. When I look back over the last 10 years. I am really appreciative of the journey in the last 10 years. My first child is 16 years old. My 2nd is 14. All my kids are in secondary school. I look at my business and I have seen this brand we have created grow. And I have been able to sustain that brand over the years. And I am counting down to about 20 years doing the business. I look back at all those things. I look at that journey, plus my marriage to Fela, I am really, really grateful.
It was one of those times that I really, really wanted to celebrate and celebrate the way I like to celebrate. I was very excited.
So looking back at your life, how does it make you feel?
Happy. I had a conversation with one of my sons the other day. He said to me, mummy, I am very happy for you and how you decided to celebrate your birthday because you have truly become an Icon. For me, the fact that my own child could look at my own life and talks about the impart he sees I have made, lives that I have touched, the business that I have built, I has totally blown away.
I am more excited because I also know what I suffered in those times, the insecurity, the uncertainties. And then coming here to this moment and seeing all these. It’s not that everything I wanted has happened. No. But it is that marry things that I didn’t even expect, happened. And they are great things and lives that I’ve made have been impart on . And for me, I am really grateful.
What were the things you planned to do that you were unable to do?
I would have thought that The House of Tara brand would have become a Nigerian home brand that has blown into every other country. That has not happened yet. I thought that one of my children was going to be an avid artiste. He is playing soccer rather than drawing, after spending so much time taking him to Nike Arts Gallery investing in lesson teacher for Fine Arts. That is one thing I expected that didn’t happen. When I looked at my wish to have a daughter. At some point, I had wished to have a daughter. That didn’t happen. I am over 40 now, so chances are, that is almost impossible to happen. I thought House of Tara was going to become a bigger company in terms of our Balance Sheet and value of the company. That didn’t happen.
I thought my mum was gong to be alive till this moment. My step mum who raised me, I thought she would be here and be part of this my journey. She didn’t make it to this time.
But in spite of all these things that didn’t happen, I’m still quite conscious of having gratitude for all that have happened.
How did your journey into Make-up start?
My journey into the Make-up business started as a Hobby. I was in the University then. This is about 20 years ago. First of all, the Make-up business as we know it didn't exist then. secondly, nobody was doing Bridal Make-up artistry as a profession. And this was something I started. When I started it, I didn't realise that it was going to become this big. I look at the industry today and I am in awe of what it has become.
I was at a party recently and it was unbelievable the number of women who were at that party and who were officially made up. In the past, only the Bride will get made up and maybe the Mother too.
In some cases, the Bride, her mother and her sisters. This time, the number has been expanded to every auntie, every cousin and there are varying degrees of professionalism in terms of Make-up that was done. And the whole thing for me was amazing. I look back and I think if I didn’t start this, if I was discouraged, it will not become what it is today. It has become part of our culture now that women will have their Make-up professionally done, and for their gele to be tied professionally.
Its not only done for traditional weddings. People even get their Make up done professionally, to go to work, or, big meetings.
So, I look back at that time when I first started, and I didn't know it was going to become a big thing, until one day I sat down and did my numbers and I thought if these numbers came out of this business, then I need to sit down and look at it more closely and pay more attention to it. That is why I started to pay more attention to the business.
And the company started to grow and I built structures around it and I put a system in place. My first store was in Oko-Awo in Victoria Island, Lagos. I remember telling you then, that I was no longer going to be doing makeup professionally and I remember it made headline news. People shouted and said why did you go and say that. I made that decision then because I didn't want to focus the business on me, in terms of my skills, but on an array of Make up artistes. That is the same model that we have built today. So nobody waits for only Tara to come and do their Make up.