Founder, MD/CEO, TARA FELA DUROTOYE
Tara Fela Durotoye is the CEO of House of Tara, a leading makeup empire in Nigeria. Her success story no doubt will inspire every young lady out there aspiring to be great someday. She started with just rendering services to people, from there she got a studio on the island and with hard work, determination and dedication she currently has over 9 branches all over Nigeria with international recognition. She also runs a foundation that has empowered over 15 thousand girls. Recently, she was our Guest on our City People Instagram Live Chat with City People Publisher DR SEYE KEHINDE, she talked about the effect of Covid-19 pandemic on House of Tara and how we can all cope with the new normal.
How has the last 3 months been?
Well first and foremost, I want to say thank you for inviting me. You are one of those that helped me build my brand. You told my story constantly and celebrated me at every milestone you were there when I didn’t even have a store, I remembered you coming to interview me in my first studio at Victoria Island, I remembered when I had my first shop 20years ago you came I was really shocked that a whole publisher of city people magazine came to interview me I was shocked. I also remembered during the transition from just a bridal makeup artists to a beauty business you came to interview and I will never forget the headline, I was like how can this be, so am super grateful for how you have helped to support the event industry and also support our brand personally I was really excited when you called me up to come on this live chat. Thank you sir.
Yes the last 3 months when we just heard about the first case of Covid in Nigeria and because of the nature of our business we are constantly interacting with our distributors. Then as a retail business we have retail stores all over the place. We have professional Makeup artists attending to customers and that means we are interacting closely with our customers even in all our retail stores in Abuja, Warri, Portharcourt and other places. The idea is that we want our customers to feel special and also that we are there for them. we also have schools where we train people. So immediately that happened we knew our Safety was really important to us. So the first reaction was to shut the business down completely to protect ourselves our staffs and client against the virus-like it is said that it is someone that has had so much to eat that will start thinking about Makeup and that simply means our customers are well travelled. They are constant travellers so we immediately shut down our stores and didn’t have an idea of what would happen next And my first response was ”I no go let anybody pikin come die for my hand” So after shutting down we started thinking of what to do next. So, I was like let’s just rest but when the end of March came I was like Nooooo. So, I started thinking if we don’t work for like 3 months what do I do with over 200 employees. I went into shock. I didn’t know how to respond to that. Then I started thinking, will I start taking money from our Reserves and if its extended, how do I put the money back, I never use to run I started running, prayer and fasting joined I struggled for a while but finally came around, the moment I decided to serve people I was able to come up with ideas and am really excited about what is next.
How challenging was it for you finding answers to all these?
I have been someone that can easily find solutions to problems but at this particular time I couldn’t figure out any solution and due to that,I started seeing myself like am stuck and due to fear, I wanted to move I couldn’t. I always stood up to the occasion anytime we have issues in House of Tara. I believe I am bigger than my business and I am here to impact lives. But in this situation, I couldn’t move or take decisions. Lots of thought kept coming into my head like if we start wearing masks, we won’t be able to wear Lipstick and Makeup. If markets shut down, what would happen to House of Tara? Does it mean I will sack everybody? After thinking about all these, we shut down for 2 weeks which has never happened before because we have multiple businesses and no.
Can you give us an idea of how big House of Tara is now and how you moved from having one store?
I started with me going from house to house with my Makeup box, then moved to having one studio at Adeola Hope Well. My second child is now 16years. The store was opened just before he was born so it’s 17 years old now. It was right behind Intercontinental Bank then, beside Law School, you came there as well when we opened, from there we moved to Oko Awo. We were there for many years and we started to expand. Our landlady kept increasing the constantly, so we decided to move out but before then we started asking customers if they wanted us to remain on the island or move to Ikeja 50 per cent chose Ikeja, and others Island so that gave us opportunity to know we have market value in Ikeja and Island. We decided to sublet a part of our shop on the Island to reduce cost and rent a place in Ikeja. The reception was massive. We decided to open a school in Ikeja because we had enough space, later someone told me she wanted franchise on House of Tara in Ibadan, from there to Portharcourt within one year. We grew rapidly and opened 9 branches within a year. In terms of our Product line, we started with Makeup brushes we had our bridal directory we created our own line of products such as makeup brushes because of the kind of people coming for training. We started with 3 lip glosses eye shadows. Today we have different types of products, from all shades of powder, foundation lipliners pencils brushes and all that. We also expanded to Skincare products. We also started empowering young women we have over 15000 young women registered to distribute our products to different parts of the country and in 2 years ago House of Tara was a case study written by Stanford University and it’s currently sold in. Havard website is one of the joy for me as the business got recognized internationally
How do you feel as the business grew and you being at the helms of affairs?
There are times I really get excited and at times I am like God such a burden, in March I was listed among the top 50 most powerful women by former in August, that in the past would have been Excited but because but I wish someone can just give freedom but it is not happening I wish someone could just give me freedom but unfortunately, that is not the case we are transmitting a this is not the right time to say you want to hand over to someone else.