Ndekile Stella is the Founder and CEO of Nuban Beauty, a Nigerian Makeup brand that provides premium quality makeup and beauty products to cater to the needs of African make up lovers and professionals. Enjoy our lady boss chat with her.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Mrs Ndekile Stella, Founder and CEO of Nuban Beauty. Nuban Beauty is a Nigerian based makeup brand which was borne out of the need to cater to the unique needs of the African beauties. Our major focus is on providing premium quality makeup and beauty products with international standard for makeup lovers and professionals everywhere in Africa.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
Entrepreneurship is really a lot of hard work, I say this because I have been in paid employment and I can tell you it’s way easier to work for someone. As an entrepreneur, you eat, breathe and sleep your business and when you are a female entrepreneur, it’s more work. You have your spouse, children & pregnancy to deal with it and still have your A game together.
I didn’t start out wanting to be an entrepreneur, I was a practicing Medical Laboratory Scientist. But circumstances beyond my control made me choose between being happy and being on salary for life. I chose happiness (entrepreneurship).
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
By innovation, I assume you mean introducing something new to the business. Innovation is a creative process. As a growing brand, we keep introducing new processes and more ways to research and keep ourselves abreast of the needs in the beauty industry.
My first ‘innovation’ in Nuban Beauty was the introduction of the e-commerce website. When Nuban Beauty started, a fully functional e-commerce website that handles payments with very little glitch was not really considered necessary by most businesses in Nigeria then, infact it was considered luxury. I had so little funds when I started Nuban Beauty so I had to learn how to build and manage an e-commerce website because that was the only platform I had to achieve my goals. Nuban Beauty was strictly online for 2 years before we officially opened our first retail outlet. I still manage and maintain our website www.nubanbeauty.com
Currently every member of our team is encouraged to generate innovative ideas, we do this by looking for imagination and creativity when recruiting new employees and we reward innovation and celebrate success.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
First is the grace of God, then I have the best support system; my partner and family, most especially my husband. He is my critic and cheerleader.
In your opinion, would you say there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
Oh yes, I will name a few;
- Struggle to be taken seriously – this is for every business/career environment. It’s taken our society too long to adjust to the fact that women are not solely made to be home keepers and child producing machines, that we can head corporations , infact we can be whatever we want to be. Right now, we are breaking and challenging this norm and achieving enormous success too.
- Limited access to funding – women are not usually given access to funds e.g., start-up funds. But our financial institutions are working hard to fix this problem.
- Balancing business and family life – women have a dual responsibility to their businesses and families. Being an entrepreneur and a mother/wife means making a lot of choices you wouldn’t want to make.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
- I love solving problems and I am also very resilient. Whenever something becomes a pain point for me, I will keep going at it till I figure it out or find a solution.
- Empathy – my ability to feel and understand other people’s pain and challenges has helped me a lot. This way we strive to create products that specifically solve problems/needs.
- My ability to adapt to situations and make it work has been a key survival skill of mine.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
I always loved makeup and beauty. During my NYSC, my Community Development Service (CDS) was in skill acquisition for makeup and beauty. As a civil servant, I was a makeup artist on the side and I also retailed makeup products. Starting Nuban Beauty was my way of solving problems I noticed while I was retailing makeup.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and what’s kept you going?
First, I had no formal education/background in business when I started Nuban Beauty, I came from a medical background with minimal knowledge to scale a business. I had to read a lot to make up for it. I took all kind of courses to get me to where I am now and I still read a lot now.
Second, having to create and maintain quality was kind of tough at the beginning. I had to go through series of processes with research and development to realize that quality takes a lot of energy, conscious efforts and time to get it right.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
Here are a few:
- Open up more retail outlets in strategic locations while making our online platform more robust to handle the growth/expansion.
- Keep increasing our product line to offer full/robust line of products.
- Development of a wholesome distribution network.
- To bring on board more experienced, talented and creative teams.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
- Female entrepreneurs should develop a reading and research habit, the more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle any challenge you will face.
- Learn from fellow experienced entrepreneurs.
- Always wear your thinking cap. Try to find solutions to problems around you and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
- Don’t fear failure. We women are more affected by failure and we let it affect our confidence. Don’t let it! Failure is an inevitable part of success, from which we learn.
- Most importantly believe in yourself. As Henry Ford famously said “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right”. Believe you can excel and you will find ways through difficult obstacles.
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.