Non conformists dot every profession, and the beauty and make-up industry is no exception. Enitan Balogun, former banker turned certified make-up artiste, beautician, weight loss expert and publisher of Beauty Overdose Magazine tells of her desire to see Nigeria’s make-up industry grow to great heights.
Why did you leave the banking industry for the beauty business?
I didn’t think I would end up a banker even though I studied Business Management. I thought that I would spend not more than a few months with Commerce Bank, Manhattan, USA after graduation before finally settling to what I wanted to do but I ended up spending a little over a year, which was why it seemed like I spent five years there. I didn’t enjoy it one bit. I am not a corporate or suit person; it’s just not me. I don’t like to be too serious, but I love to do what I enjoy. I don’t like being stuck in a place, I like to travel, meet people, be creative and most times, one can’t express all of these in a corporate environment. So, I was miserable, as I couldn’t do those things that I wanted to do, like wear make-up the way I wanted to. My decision to be a make-up person was basically because of my creativity. I love art and I love coming up with great ideas as a way to express myself and makeup gave me that opportunity.
So how did your journey to the world of makeup begin?
Well I grew up a tomboy but one that loved to wear lip gloss and even with my tomboy attitude, I was nevertheless drawn to the hair and beauty industry because I had a father who was so keen on beauty. He would always drag me to the spa for facials. So gradually, I became drawn to the beauty industry, working part time with established beauty brands like Fashion Fair and Mac. I have been a certified make-up artist since 1999.
You own your own makeup brand. What prompted that?
After putting in six years, enhancing women’s beauty, I decided it was time I launched my own brand of make-up. It began because most of my clients wanted specific colours that weren’t readily available except when two or three colours were mixed to get a specific kind of colour. Besides, I like to play with colours. So, I decided to get my own range, customize my colours, get the kind of intensity that I want and have colours I could easily relate to like teal, jade, and turquoise. I started with eye shadows and lip glosses first and after I moved back fully to Nigeria in 2006, I launched the full beauty range of foundation, powder, mascaras, blushers, etc. The makeup range, LISE is a combination of my three daughters’ names.
How easy was it for people to quickly accept your range of beauty products when they had a wide range of international choice to make from?
There was the peculiar challenge of orienting people about the product. Sometimes, I had to do a lot more talking in order to convince people to buy the products. But now, I have reached a stage where I just allow people to believe whatever they want to believe, because you can’t really force them to accept what they don’t want. But the products speak for themselves when they are tried. Besides, over the years, they have gotten that level of acceptability that I expect.
What would you say was responsible for setting up your makeup school?
I started the LISE Pro Beauty school in 2007. I was self trained as a make-up artiste but I did get some training with a couple of internationally recognized names such as James Vincent and Micheal Devallis, the creative director of Mac cosmetics. I also got some extensive training from Mac during my college days in New York, from Fashion fair, Soline Beauty School and so many others. With a mentor like Michael Devallis, I found it expedient to teach the art of makeup and mentor several other make-up artistes, rather than keep all that I have learnt over the years to myself.
Having worked as a makeup artiste in America and Nigeria, how would you compare both work environments?
It wasn’t long before I discovered that relocating home was no tea party. Even though I had it easy back in America, I realized that running a make-up business here is a different ball game entirely. It isn’t an easy task, coming from another country where techniques are totally different from what others were already doing here. But they are two environments with their own peculiarities and I believe that with time, we will be at par with them because the evolution of the makeup industry has already begun.
What was it like being the pioneer of makeup association in Nigeria?
I wanted a platform besides my school where I could mentor younger make up artistes and seeing that there wasn’t any, I had to take the bull by the horn to actualize my dream and decided to pioneer a make-up association, which was hitherto not in existence before then. You can imagine that at that time, over six years ago, Ghana had a make-up association but we didn’t have one here. It really bothered me, so, I approached a few old hands in the industry who backed out initially, they didn’t want to come on board. They said they couldn’t relate with other make-up artists they had trained and that made me wonder. I mean, if it isn’t a big deal to have talks about make-up tricks with say, the boss of Revlon, why should it be a big deal to be in an association with the people you have trained? I am not a proud person, people tell me I should be proud of what I do but I see no reason for that. If I don’t do it, someone else would, because it is supposed to be done. I thought about the controversies that would emanate from forming the association but there has to be an association to move the industry forward. That was how I invested my own money and founded the Professional and Certified Make-up Artists of Nigeria, a proper body to represent the interest of make-up artists, inspire them, empower them, share ideas, problems and generally do some networking.
With the growing number of make-up artists in Nigeria, don’t you think we would get to a stage where it would become one too many?
The industry is still at its orientation and awareness phase. We don’t have anything yet, believe me. I am part of an association in America that has over 10,000 make-up artists as members and that is just in New York City alone, whereas I can’t count up to that in the entire Nigeria.
What is the story behind your being a weight loss expert?
I get bored easily and my creative mind never ceases to amaze me. Around 2011, I came across some herbal plants and decided to get into the kitchen and create some mixtures for weight loss and detoxification. So now I have a few wellness products for weight loss and many more including beauty products.
You also publish Beauty Overdose Magazine? What did you set out to achieve with the magaazine?
Beauty Overdose Magazine, BOM, is a quarterly magazine guide to all things beauty, fashion, health and wellness for the young and contemporary woman. I began publishing it in 2009 and officially released the first edition in 2011. In terms of what I set out to achieve for the magazine, I think about it almost all the time. Have I achieved my goals with the magazine yet? No. I think not! But I can proudly say it’s a dream come true as it did take a while contemplating the down sides of publishing in Nigeria. So far, it’s been an achievement for being the first to publish a health and beauty magazine that is of international standard.
Publishing is no doubt capital intensive and the gestation period lengthy. What have been your challenges since you started out?
I don’t like starting something I can’t finish. Most of the challenges are usually the basics. Trying to publish quality prints is like getting a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. I print abroad. Other challenges are probably the cargo rates of bringing the prints into Nigeria and then clearing through customs too. Need I say more? But I look past these challenges because I am passionate about what I do. Getting funds to start off was not so difficult. Family members and friends were forthcoming. Till date, my savings continuously goes into each publication. Eventually some day, I know l will break even but, of-course miracles do happen sooner than we think, so who knows?
How do you find time to juggle all of these and still carry out your duties as a mother and as a wife?
It isn’t easy but I try to find the time. My strength as a mother is what has significantly shaped me into who I am today. No matter how much I multitask, or get exhausted, I never get tired of being a mother to my three beautiful girls. I consider being a mother my greatest achievement in life.
Are you fulfilled with all of your numerous ventures?
I love being part of everything I do. I am proud of what I do, no doubt, but I have not even scratched the surface yet. With publishing, each edition makes me persevere towards the next issue. It’s like I am being dared. My most fulfilling phase is actually creating a concept for each issue and realizing it to perfection.