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Banke Meshida-Lawal who's the head makeup artist and owner of BMPro shared practical tips from her journey on becoming a brand to reckon with in Nigeria.

 

First of all, I must say I’m not a mum, instead a dad of two sons. I had the privilege of attending the Mumpreneur Network Nigeria event, because I was friends with Valerie and Fran who run the network and my company PrognoStore co-sponsored the event.

Secondly, Banke also happens to be a PrognoStore customer. And yes she had loads of nice things to say about how PrognoStore has made it easier for her to run BMPro. But this is not about PrognoStore.

Instead, it’s about all the gold nuggets advice from Banke, who has stayed ahead in an industry – she helped create. She describes herself as a makeup artist, but over the years, she has gone on to build a successful brand and business in BMPro around her passion. Banke was super generous with her time and candid talking about her experiences and journey.

Below are edited questions asked by women entrepreneurs in the audience and Banke’s answers.

For a young makeup artist just starting out, how can I stand out?


The art of storytelling is important; hence aesthetics do matter. From the beginning, get your branding details right – like your name. You might not be aware, but your name matters a lot as it reflects on your brand. Ideally, you should go for a name that’s catchy, quirky and simple.

Is it harder to start now? To an extent, yes – it’s a crowded field. But even more importantly, a lot of people know the benefit of having a good makeup artist on their big day, hence a larger market to reach. While starting out now might seem very daunting because of competition, the best way to stand out is by your work.

You need to hone your craft to the extent your customers tell others about you. No amount of branding can mask a bad job, hence take the time to be the best in your profession.

At what point did you decide to move from just being a makeup artist to manufacturing your products? And since making that switch, how has it helped you to move forward in your business?


I started manufacturing BMPro products line in 2005. But before then, people always took products from me. I’ve always had variations of ‘Ahh you used this on my face; I love it – I’m taking it.’ This showed me there was a demand to be met.

On the other hand, I couldn’t easily find the right products for our skin texture. For instance, to get certain effects of eye shadow base, I’ve had to mix products with Johnson’s baby oil and powder. But this will flake out after a while. In summary, I moved into manufacturing because the products for us were not readily available, and I knew I could fill that gap.

But I love things of quality and have very high standards when it comes to my craft. And I took that attitude of not compromising my standards when I started exploring manufacturing. In looking for a manufacturer, I’ve always strived to maintain that high quality. For instance, I remember looking for lip shades; I ended up testing over 200 different shades on myself. The next day I had swollen lips! I solved that by going with a friend the next time. The point is, I worked with my manufacturer to get products that worked well with our skin, even when if it took extreme length to ensure this was the case.

In all, I would say manufacturing has helped my brand. There are thousands of makeup artist today, and the truth is  – art is relative. This means some people may prefer other makeup artists, while a lot of individuals prefer mine. Having my line of products allowed me to differentiate myself early and my brand. It also allowed me to stamp my touch on the products that we manufacture. Every single product, I’ve tested on myself. This provides me with a unique way of staying ahead especially in a fast moving industry.

You must have had a lot of rejections especially in the beginning of your career, how did you handle them


I don’t take them personally. From an early age, my dad ingrained in us that words don’t matter. If you had a fight with someone and they called you a ‘goat’ and that made you cried. My dad would ask ‘are you a goat?’. And then you begin to realise that you have a say in how words impact you.

Here’s the thing – while starting out, you will have rejections. But not everyone will tell you no. And if everyone says no, maybe you better reassess what you’re doing – you could be doing it totally wrong. However, it’s likely that at the early stage, even if you’re good, only 2 out of 10 people will say yes to you – because you’re still unknown and unproven. Focus on making those two happy, go on and serve their needs and they will tell others. I can’t say it enough but let your work speak for you.

I run a bridal outfit and going through a phase where it appears that my sales staff are not performing well. How do you align your team around your vision? Right now, a new sales staff has taken two weeks off in her first month – what can I do?


You should have policies that are written down. It brings consistency to your operations. More importantly, ensure your staff is aware of your policies. It helps removes ambiguity, and everyone knows what’s going to happen in certain situations.

One advice that I would give is that you might need to take the marketing lead yourself. You should be the one going to the bridal shows, events, etc. to bring in the leads to be followed in-house by your staff. You’re probably more efficient in that respect than a sales rep.

Your brand depends on pictures and judging on your Instagram page banksbmpro; the pictures always look beautiful to showcase your work. How do you learn all of that? For those that are social media shy – how do you balance how much sharing is too much?

 

Getting someone to interpret what you’ve got in your head is difficult. For instance, if you want to shoot the helm of a dress and contracted a photographer to do that, they will charge you a lot, but might end up taking ‘stylish’ pictures which are entirely different from what you want.

I decided I had to learn how to take good pictures. I bought a top of the range camera for my use. My tip: use good lighting and take from multiple angles.

Regarding over-sharing, this is a valid concern. I currently rarely accept a friend request on Facebook just because there are way too many people out there. But Instagram is a platform that I feel more comfortable especially as it’s very visual. I can only speak for myself but my advice –  don’t be shy, find fun in it. In my case, I know it’s impossible to respond to everyone; however, it helps my brand as I can connect directly to people.

How do you draw the line between ‘customers are always right’ and people just being obnoxious


I have a servitude spirit – I want to make my customers happy. And for all my staff I’ve actively communicated that if anyone is not able to abide by ensuring the customer is happy, we can’t work together.

As a makeup studio, we thrive because we have a lot of referrals and returning customers. However, there are instances where we get it wrong. This is where it’s important that my team knows what to do. I always listen to every complaint brought to my attention. I always expect something good to come out of going through a complaint. It might be a product is defective, a procedure can be improved, our process is deficient, etc. On rare occasions, do I come across a customer who’s not genuine in regards to complaints; even then, I strive to learn.

That’s all folks! I hope you found the recap useful, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, I’m always looking to connect with my readers, do let me know if you were at the Mumpreneur Network Event and don’t forget you can still use promo code MPN90 to get 90 days free at www.prognostore.com/signup. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Editors note: This was first published on Bellanaija

About Author

Ade Olabode
Ade Olabode
Ade Olabode is an adviser to small business owners. He's the co-founder & CEO of PrognoStore. Follow him on twitter @papaolabode
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