Hello everyone! From saving the Planet last week to making faces this week. LR Team is poised to bring you the many success stories of people who have showed resilience in the face of challenges. The reason is simple: we can learn a lot from them and if they succeed despite adversity, so can we! After all, those who succeed are no aliens and we share our common humanity, having the same red blood irrespective of race, age, status, sex, or creed.
In the reality that is life, far from dictionary land ,to “fail” is different from being a “failure” even though most of us may find it hard to initially identify the difference in these two terms. To “fail” is an incident that could happen to any one whereas “failure” appears to be a state of mind. In other words, to fail is temporary set back or defeat while to be a failure is a choice. A choice to relish the set back or defeat and remain in that defeat-relishing state of mind – which we do most times without knowing it. Napoleon Hill in his book ‘Think and Grow Rich” which holds inspiration unparalled, throws more light on this when he stated that ‘one of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another’.
This week, Team LR hangs out with Omegie Abiola Nsofor, CEO of Yazi’s Place. One woman who took a giant leap and refused to quit when overtaken by temporary setbacks. Today, she runs
Yazi’s Place, one of Nigeria’s leading premier Lash, Brows and Make-up studio.
Yazi’s Place: Inspiring Make-up, Inspiring Minds
Everyone seems to be surprised when they hear I am in the beauty industry and sometimes I actually have to smile when someone who I have not seen in a while asks whether I am still doing my beauty business. In a country where if people feel they are not seeing returns immediately they move on to other lucrative businesses I can understand the surprise one would feel to hear how long I stuck my head in.
My name is Omegie Abiola Nsofor and this is my story.
I am a Makeup Artist with specialisation in Semi- Permanent Eyelash Extensions and Eyebrow design. While a lot of people would say they never knew me as someone who would be in the beauty industry I have always been particular about how I treated my skin, wore my makeup and even did my hair. Having two sisters we always did each other’s hair because we did not want to spend money in the salons.
After graduation from the University of Benin and working for a government parastatal as a Planning and Training Officer I decided to go into the NGO world which I considered more exciting and better paying. For a period of five years, I worked with the European Union and the International Committee of the Red Cross. As time flew by I was becoming restless about what I would do. At that time, I felt I needed a career that would be more flexible and not as time consuming. I decided to start selling cosmetics on the side and that is how Yazi’s Place was born. While selling cosmetics, I then decided to attend a makeup class so I could be better informed on how to teach my clients to use these products and the journey began.
It was all so exciting for me. It was then I realised that I really enjoyed making people up. The transformation and delight when I saw their faces was incredible. Work on the other hand was getting more stressful, and job satisfaction reducing. It became clearer as time went by that I had to make a choice. I had to decide to stay in a place I did not enjoy or to take a jump into the unknown and uncharted waters of make-up land. People wonder why I did not work both jobs at the same time? The reason for me was simple: for me to fully commit in this new adventure it was important that I took that jump into the unknown and uncharted terrain, with only one option and no safety net. That way, I would avoid the confusion multiple options cause and be very sure that I had no other choice but to succeed while trusting that I would one day fly in my chosen venture.
After 10 years of earning a salary, I jumped into the self-employed market with both feet. It was challenging! It still is challenging but now instead of worrying about the challenges I am more excited at how I can address those challenges. I trained and became a certified makeup artist at the prestigious London School of Beauty and make up. After my first year as a makeup artist, I learnt part of business I had hitherto not known – it was that I needed to have a niche. A niche is that unique “space” or that unique “thing” that makes one stand out in a market that was beginning to get saturated. I loved doing creative makeup but that was not going to get me any money in Nigeria and since I did not have a salary earning job to allow me enjoy makeup as a hobby, my niche needed to be income generating.
I started researching on beauty therapy. I got to discover and become fascinated by eyelash extensions. I was intrigued, as this was not the conventional eyelashes I saw being fixed in Nigeria. Most were done carelessly and in unsanitary conditions. I searched for classes and found out that I needed to travel out of the country to perfect this art. Hence, I started planning ahead. Coincidentally or maybe as an outcome of “one finding what one seeks” I met someone on Facebook via some mutual friends who was having the similar eyelash extension classes I desired in Nigeria! I realised I had to take that opportunity and just DO IT. I did my class in November 2011. Then for the next six months I did nothing on eyelash extensions. I could not find the clientele, at a point I believed that while people loved the idea of natural looking eyelash extensions there might be nobody that would be able to pay for it in my locale. I told myself that because it was a new and relatively expensive trend in Nigeria, no one had heard about it so that made it harder for me to get patronage.
It was at this stage I learnt the next part of running a business – which was that I had to define my target group and actively source for them. I could not sit down and think every woman was my potential client. It became clear that actually, only women with certain characteristics were my target group and those were the people I needed to target. Along the line, I became a certified Brow Technician by Brow Artists International.
I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had to advertise my skills and attract potential patronage that would appreciate and value my skills. I had to learn how to project the business. There is no one way around doing this. It is a multipronged approach that is constantly evolving. For instance, I have walked up to random women to share my cards/flyers and also targeted news vendors who help me share my flyers in papers. However, one advice I would give to people is to have an online presence. An online presence in this digital age where people search for information through their computers and phones will project one to the potential clients. Luckily for small businesses the internet makes the world a fairly level playing field for both small and big businesses. Having websites are now more affordable and using social media properly will assist in getting through to the target market.
As a service delivery business I have come to the realisation that every client is unique and special. The first time I meet a client I do my best to actually listen to what they want and seek how best it can be achieved. Listening to a client is very important. The verbal and non-verbal communication must be got right. One must realise that without good customer care you will eventually lose out on the business. Every client that comes to me teaches me a valuable lesson about how to act in grace and dignity that will benefit all. I think everybody should treat people the way they like to be treated for mutual respect to prevail.
As a business owner I have come to value the strength of networking with others the beauty of teamwork. Again the internet makes it so much easier these days to do that. I am able to connect with people of like minds and sometimes same business to share our common challenges and successes. It is very important when networking to also add value to your network just as you get value from them. Networking has helped me learn from other people’s experiences and tips on how I can better build a business.
As much as I am my own person and run a separate business I see great value in networking with communities of like-minded and similarly skilled people who also recognise the benefit of networking. I like the fact that I have individuals that I can call up and get advice from and they also do the same with me. I also embrace groups and people on social media because there is so much information out there that sometimes you need to have people analyse and sift through it to assist one make the best choice. I urge people to learn not to shy away from participating in professional groups.
Let me also state here that having a supportive family has been very important to me. For all the times I have had to work odd hours or on public holidays I have had my husband who is dedicated 100% in ensuring that I succeed and excel in my area of expertise. I cannot appreciate my two young daughters enough. These two have become cute little apprentices by default, carrying on with grace when I am working on customers and sometimes observing me like they are going to take over soon. What would I have done without my other family and friends who were willing to be models when I was still practising?
Managing finances in a business can be a challenge. At the beginning of any business one must have a source of finance be it savings or a loan and one should learn the art of bootstrapping. Sometimes I did not have enough funds to do something and that was always when my thinking went into overdrive and I thought up solutions better. I now know through experience that not having enough funds are sometimes not a valid reason for giving up on your dreams or passion. One will never find the perfect conditions to start and so one must start as she sees fit. Start now, not tomorrow!
As a typical Nigerian I like to see the humorous side on any situation I find myself in. Being able to sometimes view a certain perspective and see the jokes in it helps maintain my light mood. While I do take laugh seriously especially my business I do try to make sure more things make me smile or laugh than get upset or cry. I always tell people to allow yourself grow and always make sure you keep growing by actively ensuring you are always better than the way you were yesterday. It gives me great joy every time my clients tell me I performed better than the last time that they last had an appointment. I also juggle being an entrepreneur with studying for a Masters in Management degree at the University of Liverpool.
LR Team is very proud of determined people like Omegie Abiola Nsofor who would stop at nothing to succeed at their passion. This Professional Makeup Artist/Master Brow Artist and Lash Technician received her first certification as a Make-up Artist at the prestigious London School of Beauty and Makeup with special expertise in Permanent Lash Extensions. She is also a Certified Brow Artist trained by the Brow Artist International. It was her photo doing what she does best which you see above that won the international photo competition at the TEDxEuston 2014 event held at the Mermaid Theatre, London, during which she and her team were honoured. Thank you Omigie for your tips on both entrepreneurship as well as “refusing to quit”. Get out the comments in the comments section and let us know how the unique story of Yazi’s Place continues to not only inspire our make up, but also how it inspires our minds.