That BISMID Cosmetics is the clear leader in the Beauty and Cosmetics business in Nigeria is unarguable. Just mention her brand name among many celebrity women and you will be told she is No 1. That is why every day no fewer than 500 customers throng her newly opened beauty palace at 32 Randle Avenue Road, Off Akerele road in Surulere, Lagos. Its a big complex that has a Spa, Cosmetic shops, treatment clinic and of course the owner Alhaja Olubunmi Agbeni is always around to attend to all those who have beauty challenges from Acre or Pimples to all manner of skin problems. The only thing she does not do is to encourage a woman to bleach. Yes you can tone or moisturise your skin she says but I will never encourage any woman to peel her skin or become white.
That she is one of the biggest beauticians in the business can be seen in her wide range of branded products she stocks. Though she sells all the big labels, she has over 200 type of BISMID branded products all made in Paris or Italy. She also has good soaps made in her name from Bagkok. The packaging of her brand is superb and her latest product the new Lady B is in high demanded.
One thing Alhaja Olubunmi Agbeni has going for her is the fact that she has been in the business for close to 20 years and Surulere has always been her base. So good is Bismid that all her clients don’t want to leave her and they have followed her over the years as she moved from one shop to another. Her last base was at Bank Olemoh. Though she still retains the place she has settled into her new imposing structure.
What many of her clients like about the lady they all call Bismid is the fact that she’s down to earth. She will readily tell you that she’s self-trained and that she had no formal education. But over the years she has brushed herself up so much so that if you are not told you won’t know that she taught herself all she knows. Last Tuesday, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE spent an evening with her. For the 45 minutes we waited to see her over a 100 customers came in to transact business, whilst a few more waited to see her personally for consultations. Outside the complex are all sorts of exotic cars and jeeps of her customers who have come to buy products or do facials.
Yet her prices are still very, very, affordable. What is the secret of her success? She told City People her story.
Congrats on your new BISMID Beauty Palace. How does it make you feel?
I feel very happy. Honestly, I feel great. I am one of the happiest women on earth. It is something I had never dreamt about. It is still a miraculous thing in my life. For me to have this place its Gods wish. God will still do more for me.
Tell us how you divided the complex?
We have SPA section. We have Cosmetic Section. We have Facials Section. Beauty is all about relaxing. If you come for beauty you have access to the SPA section, you have access to the Cosmetics, and to facial treatment also. If you are coming to any beauty palace, you have access to body treatment. That is how it should be. We have a variety of options. If you are coming for facial, and after the facials you might want to relax your body. For body massage if you have problem with your skin you can expoliate and make your skin shine. Apart from that if you want any product you can go for any of the product. Everything has been done section by section.
Your former shop was very small. How did you cope with the huge turnout of customers?
Its my good customer relations that explains this, turn out. People have come to take me for who I am. I am very patient with them. I have been very honest with them. And my prices are affordable. I don’t lie to my customers. And they know me for that I tell them as it is I can be brutally frank with them. I tell them straight don’t bleach, don’t feel your skin. I become their friends to enable me tell them not to do what they have in mind. That your friend has bleached does not mean you should bleach. They are always very patient too. They take their time. They insist they must see me and when they see me I ask them all the vital questions. They always leave me with a smile. What I have built so far is honesty. I don’t lie to people. They know I sell good quality products, top of the range. Good service delivery. I have branded products that have stood the test of time. All our products are all authentic. We don’t deceive customers.
They take their time. They insist they must see me and when they see me I ask them all the vital questions. They always leave me with a smile. What I have built so far is honesty. I don’t lie to people. They know I sell good quality products, top of the range. Good service delivery. I have branded products that have stood the test of time. All our products are all authentic. We don’t deceive customers.
If a customer walks in and I know there won’t be a solution for her problems I will tell her straight away. I won’t deceive you. I will tell you Madam, don’t let people take your money there is no solution for this your problem. But this is what you can use to maintain what you are having. Another thing I do is I make friends with them. All my customers are my best friends. The reason is simple. I exist became of them. Without them, honestly, I can never exist. I rely so much on them. I love them dearly. I put all my life in them because of customers don’t come what will I do. I am nobody without them. So I value them a lot. And they see it in me. Once they walk in I give them
Without them, honestly, I can never exist. I rely so much on them. I love them dearly. I put all my life in them because of customers don’t come what will I do. I am nobody without them. So I value them a lot. And they see it in me. Once they walk in I give them warm embrace. They are BISMID. I am not BISMID.
How do you cope with having to consult everyday wit all the huge number of customers?
Its tough. Its a big challenge. The number keeps increasing. My doctor has told me to slow down, because more and more people troop in daily. I see more than 200 people a day and I take my time with each customer. By the time I get home I will be so tired. I just go home to sleep. Free time to gossip I don’t have. From morning till night I keep receiving customer. You can see how my phone has been ringing since.
Why people keep coming is once I consult for you, we relate far. I test you. I will tell you about your skin. I will tell you the products to use and the products not to use. We centre people. We advice them. We tell them what is right. Some customers complain that I spend a lot of time with each customers I always beg them I am sorry. When you treat a customer well, they bring in more customers.
THE MISTAKES WOMEN MAKE WITH THEIR SKIN
What are the mistakes you think women make with their skin?
A whole lot. And they have been making some of these mistakes for years. And some of the mistakes still persist. Bleaching is one of it. It is the major mistakes. Some of my customers come in and they will tell you I want to be a halfcaste. I want to be white. I always tell them. You were not born halfcaste so how can you become halfcaste. You will give them mild creams that will give them like 3 shades, yes they are not satisfied. They want to be white. We try to lecture them that its not done that way. But no matter how you tell them, no matter how you lecture them, no matter how you plead and persuade they will tell you, leave all that. Please I have my money to spend. They will say BISMID here is N20,000, here is N30,000. Give me what I want. Do it for me. There is a problem. There was this woman who told me she wanted to bleach. I tried to talk her out of it. So I kept giving her mild creams to just tone her complexion.
After a while she told me. This is not what I want. I said I want to be white. I told her no I can’t go beyond this point. I can’t give you a harsh cream. I told her the implications. I don’t want anybody to spoil my name. I don’t want a customer who will go round town and say BISMID just spoilt my skin. I told her there is no harsh cream that does not have disadvantage. You will have problems at the end of the day. You either get burnt with no remedy or suffer skin discolourations or you have patches or blemises all over you. But they won’t listen. It is to help them that we introduced. That is why we introduced some glowing packs. People now appreciate it because once you are glowing you won’t want to bleach. You won’t bother that you are not fair. Its better to maintain your skin well and let it glow than for you to damage it. We’ve been trying to change that orientation of wanting to bleach. Bleaching is bad. Bleaching damages the skin. Bleaching has side effects. Once you bleach and your skin gets spoilt that is the end.