Brave Women: Tara Fela-Durotoye is a trailblazer

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In Nigeria, the beauty industry has grown by leaps and bounds. A report by Euromonitor projected the Nigerian beauty and wellness market to value about $3 billion in 2017. Beyond the figures is an amazing woman, Mrs Tara-Fela Duroye who pioneered the beauty industry in Nigeria. Festus Iyorah reports.

In the late 90s, just after Nigeria’s return to full democracy in 1999, civilization had taken its toll on every sector: the telecommunication sector was booming, the banking sector had already earned the trust of Nigerians, the entertainment industry featuring the likes of Tony Tetuila, The Remedies and The Plantashun Boiz, was the rave of the moment mix.

No one talked about the beauty industry. It was left bare, untapped. No one noticed or saw prospect in it except a 20 year-old law student, Tara, who at that time was juggling the demands of law school with an overlooked, untapped beauty business no one believed in. Then she launch her start up, house of Tara with little capital and of course no studio.

From Oprah Winfrey to Nigeria’s Folurusho Alakija every entrepreneur’s have experienced myriads of challenges while building their businesses. Ms Durotoye case was not different. In the beginning, the main challenge tempting to rip off her dream, her vision was getting a space to operate; a makeup studio that would see to the demands of customers. At first she started from her living room, a makeshift studio where she did test make up for her customers. Sometimes, she would go from house to house to do make up for brides until 1998 when she finally opened her first studio, a rented boy’s quarter.

“I rented a location because I felt a need that some of my brides coming to my home needed more privacy while I did their test makeup,” she said in an interview.

In 1999 she launched the first ever bridal directory and in 2005 she established the country’s first makeup school, launched the Tara Product line and hosted Nigeria’s first Make-up conference in 2014.

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Close up: Who’s Tara Fela-Durotoye

Tara Fela-Durotoye is the Creative Director and CEO of House of Tara International. Aside from being a certified lawyer, she recognizes the need for self-improvement, updating herself in the beauty industry by pursuing a course tied to make up at Charles Fox, Convent Garden, London.

In the early months of the year, March, 6, 1977, Tara was born in Lagos into the family of John Ejegi Sagay and Felicia Omaghomi. She started her elementary education at Command Children School, Victoria Island and was offered admission at Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Ojo. From there she proceeded to Lagos State University where she bagged a degree in Law.

In a society where the quest for pursuing white collar job is rife, one would expect Mrs Tara to be in the chambers, pursuing a vision related to her course of study, law.

But she didn’t.

Today, House of Tara has built an empire in the beauty industry with franchise spread across Nigeria and West African countries of Senegal, Ghana and Benin Republic. She has won many awards and recognition including Forbes Young Power Women in Africa, the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, and the Future Awards Young Person of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year among other awards.

In December 2016, she was recognized by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) as the Inspirational woman of the year. The award recognizes pacesetters in Lagos state irrespective of their tribes or ethnic affinities.  

Her work and profile has been profiled on several international platforms including the New York Forum Africa (NYFA), France 24, Bloomberg and CNN African Voices, a weekly show that highlights Africa’s most engaging personalities.

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House of Tara: More than a brand

Today, House of Tara International has become a household name in the developments of makeup, perfume and accessories created to meet the needs of Africa’s booming beauty market. With over 3,000 representatives and over 20 stores, House of Tara competes with international brands like MAC and Maybelline.

Furthermore, House of Tara brands promotes Nigeria’s culture and inspiration to young people. Mrs Fela Durotoye has gone beyond creating a unique brand to inspiring young African women. She believes African young women should be trained and mentored.  

“For us, our brand is one that promotes our culture, ethnicity and language. It is also a brand that has empowered young women for financial independence,” she told Nigeria’s BusinessDay in an interview.

This birthed the Nigeria’s first make up school, the House of Tara Makeup School founded in 2007. The school has trained over 3,000 female graduates who are active players in African beauty industry.

Few years after establishing the Makeup school, Tara launched the Tara Product line, a brand that promotes ethics and ethnicity, by empowering young women for economic independence without moral compromise. The Tara Product line comprises a range of professional toolkit including eye shadows, eye liners, powders, lip gloss and foundation.

Beyond House of Tara Makeup School, Tara initiated the Tara Orekelewa beauty representative initiative. This initiative which seeks to make young women financially independent succeeded in empowering young ladies, about 4000 ladies in the tertiary institution.

Recently, she started the Tara Fela Durotoye series, a concept initiated by her mentor, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika. The series was inspired by the fact that Mrs Awosika had seen the impact that the time she’d spent with Ms Durotoye had, so, she felt that there is a need to mentor more young women—to shape their purpose in life, how to be successful at work, how to make the right choices for a spouse and tips on wealth creation and management.

“One of the greatest things about the TFD series is that we are “Paying it forward”. If you have attended in the past, you are encouraged to pass on the teachings to a group of younger women in your network to create a ripple effect,” she said in an interview last year.

This article was first published on Ynaija

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