Mrs Udoka Ahubelem Nwosu is a hard-nosed entrepreneur. She is the owner of Eudoka`s Place, a thriving cosmetic and make-up studio in Lagos.
Way back during her university days, Udoka’s natural flair for make-up and knack for playing around powder, pencils and lip-sticks, immediately made her very popular especially among female students in campus. It was at this period that she was molded into the entrepreneur that she has become today.
Having forged through thick and thin, this lady from Imo State doesn’t not just run an enterprise but also training school where she grooms hundreds of both young adults on to empowered as a professional make-up artists .
In an interview with CHRISTIAN AGADIBE, Mrs Nwosu reveals more about her person and the potentials in the beauty industry.
Would you advise someone starting up this line of business with a bank loan?
No, I would not.
Then how best can you advise someone to raise capital to start up a make studio?
I started my business with a budget in my mind I hoped for N2.5million, but I could not get it. I did another budget of N250, 000, still I couldn’t raise it. So, in 2007, I borrowed N30,000 from a friend. And in just two months, I paid up. With time I kept turning over. Again, when I got money from people, I save it, rather than spending it.
Why did you choose this line of business?
I remember telling my father at 13, that I’d prefer to be an entrepreneur to a white collar job. As if I was a prophet, I told my father that there is no security in doing a white collar job.
From that very beginning, it has always been business for me. I always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me. I just wanted to be independent.
What was the first challenge you encountered when you first started?
Not being able to meet up with the streaming demand. Now, I always do a lot of online marketing and some people demand some things- and you’re not having enough or you’re not organised enough to deliver. For example, I have my own product line- it’s called U-dukes Secrets. We have ranges of soaps, complexion body milk, revitalising cream and many others. Most times, people call in, dropping messages and making their demands. The problem I had then was not having the capacity in the beginning to meet all my clients’ demands. But now it’s almost a thing of the past.
What kept you going at that particular point in time?
All I had was being focused and resolute. I don’t fear uncertainty, which is one of the things that make entrepreneurs change businesses. Today, they are into saloon, tomorrow they switch to selling clothes. That really helped me- consistency.
It’s just about that persistence; even when you have low sales, continue the business. show passion and seriousness in your venture. At a point, they would start buying into your belief in the business.
I see business as a baby – when you give birth to a baby, what happens? Take care of the baby; you need to bathe and nurse the baby. It is the same with growing a business. When you start a business newly, please, don’t spend the money it generates immediately. Take time to grow your capital. And never also your expenses to exceed your earnings.
How viable is this line of business?
I won’t tell anybody that wants to start up r this business to have eyes fixed on making profits. You’ll not make any headway. First, you need to enter it for the passion, and then the value you can give out. If you’re just there for the money, you will be frustrated because in the beginning you might not get it, people have to take some time to trust you for them to commit much to your care.
Also, people are beauty conscious now. Everybody wants to look good. Looking good is good business, of course. And there is an avenue to make money from that. Anybody can actually do it whether you know how to read well or not. It is an art- it just comes within, as long you’re passionate about it, you really love to see people looking beautiful, you desire to see peoples’ skin issue treated. When you notice facial pimples, acne, on peoples’ face and then you begin to wish that you could help the person, then you have a future in this line of business.
Is this a business you can advise people to start up?
Of course! It’s about your creativity, not everybody can dabble into it. People are paying you for your creativity; so once the creativity is not there, you can’t sell. As long as you don’t enter into it solely for the money but for the passion, you’re persistent, passionate, if you want to grow, then go for training.
At what point did you decide to go fully into entrepreneurship?
I started the business in school where everybody knew me as a beautician. Back then on campus, when you talked about creaming, soaps, make-up, cosmetics- talk about me. Everybody talked about me in campus.
But then I worked in corporate settings like in real estate, telecom firms, etc. It was there that I realised that I was not cut out to work in a corporate setting.
When you were passing through some initial challenges, did it ever cross your mind to try other kinds of enterprise?
No! There was never a time I thought of that. I knew definitely that I will grow. I knew that that with persistence and God, I would excel. The main thing was that my first office was very tiny. And in that particular office, I was rendering all my services there. I was also doing little training there too.
But many declined to register and be trained at my place because some people were interested in registering at big and already established make-up studios. A particular lady, who having heard so much skill that I could impact, came to register as a student, but she instantly lost interest when she saw how small my office was.
For all these years you have been in business, what are some of the lessons you have learnt?
(Giggles) initially skincare services like facial, manicure, pedicure, massage, skin treatment and all that, were perceived as a female ‘thing’. Most people think it’s only women that need to take care of themselves. But I can tell you that times have changed, because right now we have more male clients that come around for spa, pedicure, etc. Now men take it to another level, they are so conscious about themselves, young stars, they are so conscious about themselves.
What inspired you to go into educating other people to learn from you?
It is apparent that in our Nigeria of today, what is really paying now isn’t certificates, what pays and feeds people now are the skills they possess. It is what one can do with their hands that make one popular. A lot of people are getting conscious of this fact, so apart from going to school, they want to have a back-up skill. So, most people go into different vocations, some people think of coming into beauty and skincare because it’s the trend.
How many students do you teach in a year? How do you empower them?
I do a lot of programmes, not only for students, business owners also come. I teach them too. They come for consultation. I read a lot, I’m grounded – I know a lot. I always give people some tips on how they can excel. We have different packages of teaching like , One-on-one tutoring and do-it-yourself, where we teach people for their personal use. In all, I can say I’ve taught more than 1,300 people.
Where do you hope your company will be in the next five or 10 years?
My mission statement is to be the one top choice beauty provider for all by 2017. Don’t ask me how that is going to be because it is a work in progress, and we’re getting there sooner than later.
Again, I desire to see the make-up/skincare industry institutionalise. To see it have an organised body and with stipulated guidelines on how to be a professional beautician
What exactly is your unique selling point?
A lot of people start up this business without knowing the rudiments. Many of these spas, their owners don’t take charge? Most of these prominent spas we have, their owners have big ideas and inject funds, but they employ beauticians that are not well grounded.
What makes me unique is that; it is my brand, my initiative, and I’m in it full-time. I didn’t just open up a place and then employed people that don’t share same vision with me.
Another is that I have products that you cannot find anywhere, where very innovative here. We actually look for a solution.
How was your growing up?
I had a comfortably upbringing. My parents made sure that with the resources they had, they put us first. We were catered for properly; we went to good schools, we had books, good uniforms, etc. I was given a good foundation to get to where I am now. I was a very daring child, I was a person that always did something first. I wasn’t the best but I love trying out new ideas. My mother used to call me an extrovert. And from the very beginning, I thank God because I had a clear vision and from 17, I started my own business.
Did anybody try to discourage you when you started this business?
My mum will always say in Igbo, gaa ihe e di nyeree gi. She meant I should focus on my academic pursuit, she didn’t send me to school to start making people up. But right now my mother is happy seeing her daughter on TV, newspapers, and all that. My father was supportive because he saw my CGPA and was satisfied.
What advice do you have for graduates out there looking for white collar jobs?
It is very important to involve God.
Then asked yourself, ‘What do you want achieve for yourself?’ ‘Do you want to make money?’ ‘what do you want to be?’ I saw myself as a billionaire. I asked- what is the best way to achieve it. Working under someone will not guarantee me that billionaire status. So, I had to involve my creativity mind and asked myself, ‘what do I love doing’? ‘What can I stay in, even when I am not paid I’ll still keep up? ‘What can I stay at that, even when customers don’t come today, I’ll never be discouraged to open my shop the next day?’ ‘What can I do that I know God will prosper?’
Source : SunOnline