My Business Story

Listening To Clients Is The Secret Of My Business Success – Makeup Artist

An entrepreneur shares a story of how listening to her clients has proved to be her most valuable asset

These days, every other lady with a lipstick and an eye pencil is a makeup artist. The industry is so saturated that standing shoulders above “the lady next door” might be a tall order. However, our guest has found a way to manoeuvre in one of the most inundated industries, and she shares the story of how starting small didn’t scare her.

Temitope Sotomi recalls: “I started this business in 2012, even though it was registered in 2014 after I had received some advice from my family and friends who all knew that about my passion for makeup and creativity.”

Temitope was an undergraduate when she started as a makeup artist. The Business Administration graduate from Babcock University decided upon graduation in 2012 that she wasn’t going to chase any of those blue- or white-collar jobs that weren’t even available in the first place.

Business brief:
Started: 2014
Instagram: @tdollsmakeovers

She said, “I didn't work for anybody before starting this business. I have not had any paid job; this is what I have always done for a living. I started this business immediately I finished school.”

It was in 2014, when Temitope registered Tdolls Makeover International, a makeup, artistry, beautifying and costuming business specialising in engagement and bridal makeup, headgear (gele) tying, eyelash fixing, photoshoot makeup and runway fashion makeup. 

Asked if she was one of those who just dabbled into the makeup business because everyone else is into it, she said: “I trained at the House of Tara under the Professional Makeup Class. Makeup was what I really wanted to do, so I knew I had to get a credible certification, and I did.”

From the start, Temitope wanted to be taken seriously in the makeup business, she knew that one thing which sets the likes of Tara apart from the “roadside” makeup artist was the class of their clients. For this reason, she knew one thing she had to get right from the beginning was a good, high-end location. 

“Normally, on weekends and during holidays and festive periods when there are lots of parties and celebrations everywhere, there is more money to be made. However, things have changed a bit, especially with the recession”

She said, “I had some challenges getting a good location which would attract the type of clients we were targeting. It was not easy and it is still not easy to get a place here at Allen Avenue. After managing to get a location through an agent, another problem was convincing potential clients to try us out - howeverwith God on our side we were able to surmount that challenge.”

Setting up a makeup parlour at Allen Avenue may not sound like a lot of investment, but for a fresh graduate with little or no savings of her own, capital still had to be raised. How did Temitope raise the required capital to start Tdolls?

Temitope said, “Getting the money to start was a problem because I had just left school, had not worked anywhere and only had very little money of my own. My late dad and uncle really helped in providing the necessary fundsneeded in executing the business. Mylittle savings also proved helpful.”  

Temitope has experienced a lot of changes in the makeup business in the three years she’s been around. Prices of her accessories and costumes, which are strictly imported items sourced through merchants, have skyrocketed. This has forced an upward review of what she charges and, in turn, reduced patronage.

She said, “Normally, on weekends and during holidays and festive periods when there are lots of parties and celebrations everywhere, there is more money to be made. However, things have changed a bit, especially with the recession. I am always worried about the prices of things. Eye lashes for instance are imported and now very expensive.”

However, Temitope is certain that Tdolls has come to stay. She believes that with an average of 20 clients a month, including brides and grooms, party clients and clients on entertainment locations, she can continue to sustain her establishment. For her, keeping existing clients and attracting new ones are crucial to sustaining Tdolls. 

Explaining part of the secret of her business success, she said, “We continually identify with our clients’ needs and use them as a inputs in decision-making process, because we know that this is central to competitiveness.. By doing this, we hope to build up a considerable client base all over the country.”

There are several lessons Temitope has learnt from managing a small business from scratch. It has helped her decision-making ability and taught her how to be independent. But in her line of business, what does she consider to be the most  important lesson to have learnt?  

“I am always trying to do something new with makeup. You cannot be in this line of business and not be ready to learn or update your knowledge because, every day, fresh patterns and more advanced costumes enter  the market. You need to keep improving and you can’t survive for long without diversifying into producing your own beauty products,” she stated. 

Although Tdolls currently averages a modest N1million annual turnover, Temitope is proud of the effort she has so far put into growing her business. Her prices range from N5, 000 to N20, 000 for party guest makeup and N50, 000 to N300, 000 for bridal makeup packages. She therefore doesn’t believe that the market has reached saturation.

She said, “Makeup artists are making money. Every weekend, there are occasions and people walk in to do their makeup and tidy themselves up. So, yes we are making money, but we are a very small establishment and we are just trying to find our feet in the business.”