Type to search

Artistic Tara

Interview News

Artistic Tara


tara2When TARA FELA-DUROTOYE stepped into the local cosmetics industry more than ten years ago, she sparked a revolution that reverberated in different corners of Nigeria. Today, the step she took has given birth to many makeup artists who are using their brushes creatively more than ever before. In this interview, she tells FUNKE OSAE-BROWN about her brand and more

Onikepo Akande Street at Lekki phase One, a highbrow area in the Lagos metropolis is enveloped in quietness as I drive into the premises of House of Tara International. Two sign posts with the inscription: “Students’ Car Park” and Guests’ Car Park” are erected on the well moored lawn. In my mind, I queried the signpost for students. I never knew House of Tara has grown beyond what I saw at her flagship studio on Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island some years ago I visited.

“Good morning, welcome to House of Tara International,” the receptionist greets me. This statement I later would hear from every member of staff who walked past me as I waited to talk to Tara Fela-Durotoye. She was in a meeting when I arrived. Boldly written in front of her office is: “Managing director/chief executive officer.” On the wall is a line up of pictures of brushes, eye shadows, lip liner, lip glosses neatly captured on canvass. These images speak volume about the creativity and the artistic inclination of Tara, the attributes which underlie her profession.

Tara has earned herself the title veteran in the beauty industry as the pioneer of the bridal make up profession in Nigeria. A graduate of Law from Lagos State University, she had set her mind on the beauty industry in her undergraduate days before she later got trained and certified as a makeup artist of Charles Fox, Convent Garden London.

After school, she set up the first make up studio and established Nigeria’s first make up school. “When I wanted to start my first store,” she recalls, “I went to Alhaja Tejuoso, the woman who has the biggest makeup store in Lagos at the time. She earned herself that name because her store was at Tejuoso market. Most University of Lagos students would know her because they all bought their makeup from her at the time. She gave me products worth N78, 000 an equivalent of N500, 000 today. She didn’t take a dime from me. On the day of the store opening she was there with her gele (head tie). She is very knowledgeable in the cosmetics industry.”

Alhaja Tejuoso’s trust in Tara did not fail as the N78, 000 worth of product has today grown into a full fledge business where Tara has her own makeup line. The Tara Product line is a brand she says promotes ethics and ethnicity, and specifically designed for women of colour. She just recently opened her 14th store at Lekki.

In addition, House of Tara International consists of a makeup school that has produced more than thousand trained and certified makeup artists. Some of whom are now active players in Nigerian beauty industry. She has also succeeded in empowering young ladies -over 800 of them – in the tertiary institutions with the Tara Orekelewa beauty representatives’ initiative that makes them financially independent, improves their self esteem while building their marketing and entrepreneurial skills.

Now, the next step for Tara is her distribution network chain, the platform she has been able to build over the years since starting her indigenous make up line. Today she tells me proudly that international make up brand that are opening stand alone stores in the country are consulting her to distribute their products for them through her platform.

“When international brands come to Nigeria they will request for makeup artists,” she says. “Where will they get them from? From those whom we have trained, of course. They will call me to say: ‘I am bringing Mac to Nigeria. On the day of the Mac launch, I was there. And the partnership is not just that of ‘oh, em…, I want make up artists. I know the role that House of Tara plays in that.”

One of House of Tara International’s core competences that people now see is distribution management. “What is that? It is when you have your own makeup brand, and you want people to see it around. Not just see but also buy. Hence we have a distribution model that takes acre of that. There is no way you can enter the market and have a proper distribution model in six months. Hence international brands ask us to do that for them. They will tell us they will pay us to distribute for them.”

For Tara, prominence for a product is key hence she has take n her time to develop strong distribution model that has worked for her. “There is nothing as ridiculous as having a brand which you advertise and you don’t have a way people will see or buy it. It is an effort in futility. That effort is made but then it is drained because you don’t have a distribution channel. So this is a business I started from making up for people going to starting up an industry for professional makeup artists.”

Empowering young people is also key for Tara who has more graduates following her footsteps. Her collection of students boasts of graduates with two or more degrees from different fields. They have all been trained as professional makeup artists who have abandoned their degrees to pursue their passion in makeup artistry.

“Every single person here is a graduate,” says Tara. “Some of them have two degrees. They are professional makeup artists who are graduates. One of them is a lawyer who has gone through law school but her passion is makeup. If this industry does not grow beyond Tara how will all these people get jobs? Opening a hundred stores cannot meet their needs. There need to be an influx of international brands who also are ready to invest in standalone stores. All the people I trained, am I the one that will employ them? I can’t. There are many of them that need to be encouraged as entrepreneurs. Small businesses are the heart beat of the economy. And for us at House of Tara it is not just enough for us to do well, it is also for us to know that our industry is doing well.”

This passion for youth empowerment is driving Tara to host a Makeup in Nigeria conference come April this year. “The makeup artist in the country has increased the appetite of the consumer. For the consumer to have a hunger that hunger needs to be fed. And if that hunger needs to be fed one brand cannot satisfy that hunger. Makeup artist have played a role and the role that we have played have created in the market an opportunity. You still have some people who say they don’t use make up. These are customers who are lost. As the awareness intensifies, you will ensure those ones become your customers as well. I see the makeup in Nigeria conference as a place where we want to showcase what we have done and what we are doing, who we are and what we have been able to achieve.”

Tara’s strides in the cosmetics industry has seen her received several national and international awards for her contribution to the industry and active role in youth empowerment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *