Ufuoma Koloko dumped a thriving career as a management consultant in the United Kingdom to pursue her passion for skin care. She sheds light on some skin beauty myths
Why did you set up a skin clinic?
When I worked as a management consultant in the United Kingdom, I became stressed and my skin broke out. I went for facials and each time I did, I told myself that if I was not working as a management consultant, I would love to make people feel good the same way the beauticians made me feel.
How easy was it for you to switch from a career lady to an entrepreneuer?
My dad had some reservations when I decided to quit my job. Later, he discovered I had understood a passion for entrepreneurship. Incidentally, my parents are entrepreneurs. They must have influenced me.
You started out in United Kingdom, why did you set up shop in Nigeria?
I realized there was a gap in the Nigerian market in terms of very professional skin and body care specialists. If you speak to one woman today, she says, “I use this product” at another time, she will say, “My friend told me to rub this.” I could see that many of these people were simply damaging their skin. I just wanted to educate clients and empower women in terms of the choices they make for their skin.
What fears did you nurse while setting up your business?
I initially felt people would not value the service because obviously you can get some beauty products out in the market and very cheap. My products are not so cheap and the prices I charge for my services are not cheap either.
But I have been surprised; Nigerian women haven’t disappointed me. When it comes to their skin, especially if they know the product or service is good, they are willing to pay the price.
What common beauty myths are peculiar to Nigerian women?
The major one is the idea of skin lightening because they think it will make their skin look better meanwhile it is doing the opposite.
A lot of times, these bleaching creams thin out the skin, which is the actual protection from the sun. By the time the sun hits your face, because the skin is too thin, it burns out fast, so the light skin colour you are actually looking for will be scattered with dark burns.
Why do you think there is a craze to be light-skinned?
It is the idea of some women who think that the lighter their skin, the wealthier and affluent they appear.
In Asia, there is also the idea that if you have lighter skin you are more beautiful
. They are obviously unaware that there are some light- skinned conditions that are not pretty or beautiful to look at.
Are you confronted with these peculiar requests at your skin clinic?
Yes, I am. I make them understand I am not in the business because I want to help people bleach their skins. I am here to make their skin look beautiful and healthy. Your skin does not have to be lightened to have these qualities. Some people’s skin may look darker because of sunburn or the use of wrong products. That can be corrected. I can’t transform you from a dark-skinned person to a light-skinned person because I am out to adhere to the tenets of my trade.
What is your beauty regimen?
I exfoliate every night, but some people tell me they use face scrub once in a while or once a week. Depending on your skin type, you should be able to exfoliate every day. This helps to renew the skin cells faster. That way your skin will look brighter and fresher.
How would you define your style?
I am quite girly; I like to play around with colour and I am more into dresses than separates. I feel very feminine and free in them. Style to me means confidence, comfort and charisma. Someone should be able to look at you and tell if you are feminine, professional or a fun person.
What is your fashion fetish?
I am crazy about shoes because I think they can make or break an outfit.
One time I changed jobs and couldn’t afford to buy new suits and dresses so all I did was change my shoe collection. I know shoes may sound cliché but they make a difference.
What is the most expensive fashion accessory in your wardrobe?
My handbags; I have two very expensive ones which were Christmas gifts.
What schools did you attend?
I studied History and African Studies at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies. I graduated with a first class. My dad wanted me to study medicine but, I was not interested. I believe the reason why I graduated with good grades is because i had genuine interest in the course I studied.
Why the switch in careers?
What you studied in school does not necessarily determine your career path. For instance, in Nigeria people study various courses and end up in other fields because of the high rate of unemployment in the country. I used school as an opportunity to grow and learn what I am passionate about. I have a passion to make an impact in anything I do. I just want to make a difference and leave a visible mark in my career; either with my clients on a one on one basis, or with my students at my beauty academy.
What major challenges do you face in your business?
Time is one of the challenges because I can’t split myself to be at my businesses. I also run a restaurant and I had to employ good staff I have been blessed in that regard.
What qualities keep you going?
There is the sense of freedom and empowerment from our parents that encourage my siblings and I to succeed in life. There has always been this underlying confidence and safety blanket they provide me with. I can go out and try anything and if I fail, my parents are there to push me forward again. No matter the challenges, I focus on my work. So, believe in yourself and the world is your oyster.