By Babatunde Alaran
The make-up business is one vocation that is fast becoming a lucrative one and for those who possess the creative edge to stand out, the opportunities seem endless, what wirth the robust Nigerian flambuoyant society.
Miss Abimbola is a name to reckon with in the industry, carving a niche with the dexterity she brings into her business.
A graduate of Microbiology, Abimbola runs her outfit, B’Petite Makeovers with the kind of dedication that tells of someone with clear premises.
In this interview, she speaks of her business, the industry, personal and contemporary issues.
Congratulations on your new outlet, and how long did it take you to put B’Petite makeovers in this lovely shape?
It took me about a month, to get this place sorted. I got the offer through a client who proposed the space to me. It was previously a beauty parlour about to close closing down. At first, it was a quick jump; but on the second thought, I had to do my findings: why do they have to close the place down— what happening? And is it that the place does not make sales. Why? But they had their reasons. Basically, the person in charge wasn’t a beauty person. She was a doctor. And she kept people in place to manage the business for her, and they just didn’t do well. Not delivering well and hanky-panky games and all. So, she said she would just let it go and focus on her medical practice.
Have your expectations been met?
The place had been shut-down for about three months or four months before I came in. I want to believe that, one way or the other; the clients they use to have must have moved to other places at the period of time when the place was locked down. So, I know it is not easy to get them back; but, I’m very much hopeful. It is just a blink. And I’m very much expectant of more customers coming in; the previous ones and even those that don’t know the brand before. Or those that never know the salon before. With my own vibe, branding and the advert skill; I believe more will come.
For how long has B’Petite Makeovers been in operation?
Okay. Basically, the brand has been in existence unprofessionally since eight years ago and professionally about six years ago.
Whave been your challenges so far?
Of course human factors and human relation factors, and not the fact that I couldn’t manage them; but you get to meet a whole lot of people with different behaviours. People with different attitudes; and some people believe that when paying for something, you get it in a blink of an eye. Of course, as a service provider I have to manage whatever situation to please my clients. Not of course to detriment my own image or trying to bring myself below my standard. I just have to keep being myself. But yet, satisfy them. And the ability to maintain and that is very important.
What are the peculiar considerations you make in beutifying a client?
I see myself and I call myself a beauty enhancer. I really don’t like to do the theatre kind of makeup. But I like to beautify people. Doing that, I just need a little touch. And that is where the brand name comes from. So, I don’t believe in excessive makeup to make you look better. I just believe in enhancement. You are beautiful. God has blessed you. You are just trying to perfect environmental skin flaws. Not the fact that you are trying to help God to modify what he has done. But, your skin can be better; probably, if you have enough to take care of yourself. But at the moment you are not where your skin should be and you are trying to use makeup to build it up a bit. Not to change you. I have always be the fan of keeping it simple.
What is the unique thing about B’Petite Makeovers?
People want to do what other people are doing. They want to copy a known brand style. But in my case, I do what suit the person at the time. And for the purpose of whom the person needs that kind of makeup. Now, I have just seen a picture online, the model or the client, whatever it is, amazing. I think the question I should ask myself is: why was that face done that way? If the reason doesn’t apply to my reason, I don’t have to do what that person did or make my own client the way that person looks like. You know, somebody is trying to go on a run-way show. And all glance for the run-way and somebody else is going to church or going for an official meeting wants to have that look: Oh! I love the way that person looks or even let not say it is not a glitz request. I’m the one to figure out what to suit that person’s face. I cannot pick up a makeup and put on that person because her face looks like that person’s face so they should look alike. So I work with the flow of the client’s need at the moment.
Which of the elements of your profession is more interesting to you?
I think my strength is in the makeup. That is what I major in. But of course, it is not that I don’t believe in body massage or hairdressing. But my skill or talent is being expressed more in the makeup. It is an art. That is where I see more in what I do. I’m an artistic person. If I pick up your nails, I will do it fine. But I think I am not inspired to do nails than when I do makeup. I know how to make hair. And that is why; I have the whole place set up for the beauty parlour itself. But my strength is in makeup
How would you deal with a client having a terrible skin?
Now, does the client want her skin cover or not? Is she comfortable in her skin that way? And what is the purpose of the makeup I want to do for her? Is it to get the flawless look or to just keep her natural? Because if you are actually trying to get a model, for a makeup skin treatment effect. If the person has a bad face and I want her to become flawless; I can do that either, depending on the purpose of the makeup I want to do.
What informed your decision to go into the industry?
Makeup started while I was still in school. I had started the whole thing for me to express my skill, when I was in the University. I was in 200 levels then, when I even enrolled myself into a hair salon to learn professionally. I know how to do this hair thing naturally. But I went for the professional aspect of it. And from there, I realized that I had eye for wrong application of makeup. I just knew things were not right. Of course, before then, I was not applying makeup in secondary school but when I entered into the University, I had access to do my makeup. So, I figure out to do my makeup right without any professional knowledge. And so, because I could do mine perfectly, I also told people about their wrong makeup. I realized that while I was doing the hair training, I thought, I was having flair for makeup than hair. When I saw a hair that was wrong, I cautioned it too. But my attention is more on people’s look in general than the hair. And so, people began to notice: why not become a makeup artist rather than a hairdresser? From there, I started the makeup and going online; to check YouTube to see people’s job. Of course, the gate way to that was when someone came to my school’s church and gave us a seminar on makeup. And looking at what that person taught us; I just knew this was me. Since then, I connected to the spirit that one day I would come back to do this for the youngster generation.
Are you saying you didn’t go through any apprenticeship as a makeup artist?
To tell you the truth, I didn’t at the very start of it. I just picked up what I had around me and I made the best out of it. Trust me if I say, that I didn’t learn when I did my very first job. Because it was natural and I knew the basic of all of those things; and I had not gone through any vigorous training when I did my first job. After that, I gained a whole lot of confidence: that if somebody can actually call me to do her face whether she knows or she does not know that I’m unprofessional with the skill yet. But at least she could trust me enough to do her makeup.
Where did you begin or learn the ropes?
Ewa makeovers, may her gentle soul rest in peace. Her name was Adenike Ogungbe. She died 2013, if I’m not to be mistaken. That was the same year I did the professional training with her. It was two months after then, I guess, that we heard the news of her untimely death
What is your view about the business because many people join the business because of joblessness?
I would not say that people should not try to express themselves due to joblessness because one way or the other, if there is really no job; you just have to find something doing. Since you are not going to steal or kill someone. Well, if you think you have a flair for something— try it out. But it is not everything that you try out is your final stop. If you try out and it doesn’t work for you, you can always move to the next thing. It doesn’t mean it is a waste. It will still always come back and that will be like underneath knowledge for whatever thing you do. Basically, no skill is a waste. Yes, so many people are joining but greediness won’t make some people to leave. They know they are not good enough. They know that they don’t have the skill. And some people are not just customer service people.
And do you think you are good enough?
Well, to some extent; and in fact, if I’m going to judge myself, I will say I’m doing well. But I think that question would go more for the client and few people that know me rather than me praising myself. I would rather what to hear the comment from people— but really, so far, people tell me, I do well. And of course, I’m not perfect. No doubt and I have had two experiences and all well and good; I still don’t part ways with clients.
You graduated as a microbiologist, how do you infuse that into what you now do?
In my final year when I was trying to balance my life as a micro-biologist and I decided that how would micro-biology help me with the new dreams and aspiration? Even with the new career I wanted to go for. And I began to infuse my thought. But micro biology is the study of organism and all. And yes this is me trying to apply a career in makeup. And I can definitely infuse my knowledge in micro biology into my practice. That means neatness. It means trying to be conscious of people skin; and people’s health. It means that I know better than a lay man on the outside that just learns the skill and it application. I have background knowledge on how much you should put on people’s safety. So, I just thought micro biology is not to a waste. I might not be working in the laboratory but I am going to apply my knowledge into my business.
So far, how has that worked out?
I have been doing that in a way for me to be conscious about my client hygiene. If you are a micro biologist, you will know that, the basic thing is hygiene; and it is because you want to be sure that you will get your right result or your specimen is not corrupted with dirt and impurities. So, if you are that conscious, you must also be conscious in this regard, that you don’t want to transfer fungi or bacteria from one client to another. So at every point you wash your brushes and you make sure your products are not contaminated and not expose them anyhow. You keep them safe. You keep your brushes hygiene. You also sterilize when you need to sterilize. You know, make every where clean, and that spirit is not just normal. It is not everyone that can think that way.
What was your parents response to your decision to go into make-up??
Well, I don’t have a dad anymore at the time when the career started. But my mum has always been a supportive person. She also likes the fact that apart from school and that it is good to have something along side. Don’t depend on government for official jobs basically. She is an entrepreneur. And she does not have a problem for me to become an entrepreneur. But when I told her what I wanted. She supported me. Of course, she paid for my tuition fee at that time and till today she still says it: ‘’ thank God I paid. If I had killed the dream, I would have regretted it’’ Now, I’m a makeup artist and my sister is a fashion designer. And she is enjoying. And anytime she has an event, I am there to glam her up and my sister is there to do her cloth. She is just coming out looking gorgeous. She is being excited. But at first she was being sceptical. And that does not mean she does not support me. She supports me all the way.
There is this impression that female makeup artists are prostitutes. Can you defend that?
Who says that? How on earth are you supposed to be prostitute when you are standing all day? Sweating or oil is coming out from your face and trying to attend to clients waiting on you to get their faces ready for their own events. How on earth are you supposed to have time for one guy somewhere?
I’m speaking for myself. People go into business for different reasons or maybe they feel that makeup artists get to meet people. And let me be one of them since I’m not exactly a makeup artist. Just to have an avenue to meet people and because I’m beautiful I would attract their husbands— I don’t know. But me speaking for myself, I’m too busy to be looking at other people. I don’t have time for that and that is why I can’t speak for others that do that. But for myself, I don’t even have time.
You spoke about you busy schedules, how do you cope?
Okay, before now, I used to be a one man soldier. I’m the face of my brand. When people come for training, yes they come for training and I groom them and they go. So one way or the other, maybe impatience does not make some people to stay and serve. So I wouldn’t say I have been the CEO for too long. I would say God has been good. I got the good hands. God has pushed the right people to me and I wouldn’t say I have to put everything on them. But one way or the other, the work load has reduced. And the beauty of expansion is to be able to divide responsibilities amidst people.
Talk a bit about your background
I am the last daughter of my mum. Of course from an extended family and that makes me the fifth out of seven. Five girls and two boys and that make me the fourth girl basically. Everybody in my house is all entrepreneurs. And the younger ones are still in schools and most of us working are entrepreneurs. We just have it in our blood. My dad was an entrepreneur and he was a manufacturer and my mum supports the business. It was a joint venture between them. We are all doing fine for being entrepreneurs.
I attended Mate Nursery and Primary school and I proceeded to Ikenne community high school for my secondary education, and I gained admission into Olabisi Onabanjo University, in Ogun State to attain a Bachelor of Science in Micro biology.
What if your future spouse asks you to close down B’Petite Makeovers and how are you going to feel?
Wow! Wow! Oh my God! Well, the bible says if you are married to bone of your bone, he is the head. I can’t say what I would do but I know I would listen to my husband. Bigger than the career that I think I have, God plans should supersede. And if God has made me to marry such person and he is saying; it is high time I dropped the business and I would want to believe that God is in support and I believe God will give me more purpose
As a microbiologist, one would have cosidered you a science based career person, how did you venture into art?
Art has been me. When I was a teenager, nobody taught me how to plait hair in my house. Of course my mum used to plait her hair but when we were young. But my sisters were on low cut and I still managed to be able to plait hair. Nobody taught me. I just see it. And there was a woman closed to our neighbourhood that do weaving and I looked at it. It was once a glance and I said: I can make this hair now. So imaginarily, in my head, I used to plait hair. I used to be a dancer. I know the right moves to make to the beat. Then, I didn’t understand what the song meant but when I listened to a beat; I could flow with the beat. And I know I use to draw. I can draw and I can paint.
So why did you go into science?
I didn’t see the art part of me like what they put on our face then. That when you want to become something like doctor or lawyer; and meanwhile those were the structured kinds of life that everybody should have. It didn’t seem to me that dancing was somewhat a career. It was just like a skill. So, commercial class was that you needed to know how to calculate mathematics. And art class is like you must read novels and I don’t like to read novels. So, the definition of art then was not where my skills were. That I cannot be reading law
Yeah. I love mathematics and of course I’m a brilliant child. But I just knew accounting wasn’t me. And what I intended was to take care of people and healing people and I thought that was me. At that time taking the decision, I felt I was smart enough to become a science student. I wanted to be in the best class
Was it that you felt those in commercial and art were dullards?
(Laughter) I didn’t mean dullards but they were not just smart enough. I wouldn’t know so much with that intelligence and be sitting down in an art class: what for? Or commercial class— no.
How has the social media helped in promoting your brand ?
I would say, if I’m not seeing responses yet, I think that is my fault. As much as I am in this business, I know that social media skill has to be a blend. To be able to promote yourself and I would blame it on my business. I still don’t have time to do things for my personal life. We are not getting younger, not to focus for myself alone but still focus on my family and taking care of my future family. So, I have not been able to sort that out than to sit and start pressing my phone. I just don’t focus on social media.
What you are saying now is that you are not a social media type of person?
Yes. It is not my strength
There are many makeup artists that promote their brands on Instagram and what do you say to that?
Yes. It is a weakness to my business. I don’t know how to do that. In fact, is it when you are attending to client and you up for the next job and it is when I get back home that I would be viewing pictures I have snapped? Since I don’t take my time and I just drop it. The next one I drop too and before I know it, time is going and I don’t have good pictures and not because the jobs are not good enough but sometime I don’t even take picture.
And how do you now get your clients? Is it by recommendations or what?
That has been the strength of my business. Because when my clients get to the party and they are asked who does their makeup and the clients would come back and say: Bimbo thank you but I gave so and so your contact. They have been disturbing me that they want to reach you. So, when the call, they would be like, I got your number from this person. And that is how my clientele base expands and it keeps growing and growing. And it has not been that: I saw your job or Instagram or your promotion on Instagram or Facebook. Even comment on my wall, I do see them after two weeks or three weeks. And I would say: Oh! My God, that is not fair but on the phone calls or referrals; that is my strength.
Don’t you think the way you are handling it is an old style?
It is conventional. Yes, I know. But what works for you is what works for you. Some people are there on the Instagram 24-7 and they get recommendations from the Instagram. And we all know also that this Instagram sometime can be a lie. It is not real. I like to be real. I like to make it looks good. People that know me for what they see physically and not that I have edited online and they now get discouraged or disappointed when they see the real work. My standard is what I can do is what I can do or to re-enhance to make it looks plastic. Well, people do a whole lot of that and that is not my person. I’m a very real person. So, at times when I want to post; I do post good picture online. Of course the Instagram is everywhere and technology is going higher and you can’t just put one picture online. But if I have my way one picture, to let them see me for me; and if you like it come for it.
Where do you see B’Petite Makeovers in the next five years ?
I see B’Petite growing into full beauty organisation. Everything that has to do with beauty enhancement will be taken off by B’Petite beauty parlour
Is it that by then you will be challenging the household names like House of Tara and Zaron?
Well, I’m not up for a competition. I will just be there in my own space. If people want to know, yes, they know me. But I am not trying to compete. The sky is very big, and everybody will flourish and they will have their space to flourish. Then I will be there higher. It is just a process.
What does relationship mean to you?
Relationship means keeping in touch; also being there when the other person needs you.
How would you react getting a midnight call for business?
I had been out to makeup customer service need, and It was 9:30pm and I got to her around 10pm and I rounded up the job around 11pm and I got back to my house 12am. That shows how much I hold relationships and how much I value relationships. If I can be there why not and if I am out of Lagos that means I can’t go that way. But If I can’t be available at all times and it is not risky. Why won’t I go? I try to satisfy my customers.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I wish I have leisure time. I really wish I have
How does your man cope with your schedules?
Okay, maybe before now, I don’t get to work in weekdays. My weekdays are not as busy as my weekends. But that means I am free in weekdays. And we had a challenge at some point because my boy friend at that time wasn’t an entrepreneur. He had things to do. He had to go to the office during the weekdays. And it clashed and we did not quite manage that well for some time. But we figure it out. It means I have to go check up or hang out after work or weekends. It wasn’t that easy trust me. But now, especially when I have given out responsibilities to some people; I am lesser occupied. So I can easily hang out with my people and it is just the matter of scheduling my meetings. But I have to schedule my timing and that is my way of life. Is it not that I am trying to be structured
What advice do you have for up-and-coming makeup artists who are running helter-skelter to get their feet into the business?
The advice I think I would give up-and-coming makeup artists, is that they should calm down. Calming down to plan— well, in the whole process of me trying to be who I am today and where I want to be. And I had the option to setup immediately after I got the professional training. Knowing that it is not as if I am not good enough, I am good enough even though I don’t have professional training. And I talk to myself that the professional training is needy. After that, I still went to work for a makeup artist. Not because I need to be paid. The payment wasn’t worth to my academic standard. Looking at my course, if I am going to apply for a microbiology position, I know the worth of the salary that would fetch me. But I was not focusing on getting paid or a salary that is too bulky. I knew this was what I wanted to do. So I wanted to know the nook and cranny of the business, so I went to serve. Why some people would go to work. I didn’t go to work; I went to serve because I did the job with my whole heart, my body and my soul. I worked tirelessly. I paid the sacrifice. So, I would advice that they should plan themselves and don’t rush. Two years in a twinkle of an eye, it will pass. If you want to dedicate your life; six months I want to serve because sometime the spiritual aspect of this thing is not because the person is better than you are. But God will help you to experience something and if God will help you to be a leader and you need to know how to be a follower. So that is when you become a leader and you know how it feels or what the pain of the followers. And you know how to manage them better. So there are whole lot of things and other than the fact that you learn from the skill. And all of it comes with the total package for you to serve under someone. You will learn a whole lot of things than a skill that you just want to go and copy and learn from the person’s brain and rush out.
Are you bringing out that conclusion from your own story?
Yes, I am because I have seen people come to me and they would say that they want to work. And I would be like okay and before you know it. They are gone. Two or three months they are gone. And they would say: Ehen, I just want to start on my own. And I will say like really, after two months. Okay, no wahala. I can’t hold you. If you are focus, you know it takes one step at a time. There would not be a need to rush. I just let it be. You do your own and everybody would get to the destination where they are supposed to be. How smart you move matters not how move.
Is Abimbola Lasisi an introvert or an extrovert?
No. I’m not an introvert but yet I’m not an extrovert.
I’m not an introvert because I don’t see thing and say this is not my business. Even God does not want that. If you see anything that needs attention, you call the attention due to what the thing. And I will address whatever needs to be addressed in the right way. But I would not jump and that is an extrovert. I am not a jumping person still. I balance up thing.
Falz recently released an album, Moral Instructions, which also highlighted rape issues, what’s your say?
Well, I wouldn’t say that those that are victims need to address the way. And sometime it is the way people address and I wouldn’t say that they got themselves into the situation. It might be the other party that just can’t control his/her emotion. Meanwhile, female does rape guy now too. So I wouldn’t strict it to the male. I think it is the matter of having individual persons dealing with whatever it is that is causing them to be in that state of raping others. And would I blame it on the background or their upbringing? Because I don’t know what to blame it on but I believe everybody has conscience. The God factor in you definitely would have stopped you at some point when you want to do the wrong thing. You just choose to not listen and you want to explore, you want to do this or do that? People are not listening to the God factor in them. They just want to express themselves that nobody can catch me and nobody can do anything. I think the spiritual mentality of people is low; or would that be the devil? Maybe not because you have a choice, God has given us a choice to change our life.
How do you interact with your customers?
You flow with the flow. If they are in hurry, then I need to be smart. No slowing down, but still a professional. Not because they are hurried and you should now do rubbish. Be conscious of the fact they are paying and they still want the best even under pressure. So be able to work under the same pressure. And if she tells me, Bimbo slays me, that mean that is what she wants and I need to give it to them and if they are like: I want to slay but I don’t have time. Then, I need to be smart and spring up the smartness in me. And give them what they want and then you can’t blame anybody because they want you to be smart and that is why you are a service provider. You need to meet up with the task
If you were to rewrite your Bio, what would you have we the highpoint?
I wouldn’t want to write anything. If this is the life God wants me to have so been it.
Do you love the way you are living your life now?
I love the way I am living my life. It is not about the millions or billions. I see other and those people may not love their lives. I am grateful to God for the kind of family God has put me to. We have our challenges but God has said he wouldn’t place before us whatever is bigger than those challenges. In different levels of life, sometime, I get to think that maybe I should have become as Dangote’s daughter. But nobody knows what such Dangote’s daughter of mine would become. So, I think I love my life. Even with my own personal challenges and I will overcome them and be better than whatever the challenges are. It is just a phase. It is a time and it would just fizz out and then I would continue to live the life God has given me to live.
Thank you for having this wonderful chat with you
Thank you too sir.