Prime Woman

April 5, 2014

Finance is no longer a challenge as we generate funds internally — Tara Durotoye

Tara Durotoye is one of the few outstanding female entrepreneurs in Nigeria who have been able to evolve from being a makeup artist to having a complete cosmetic line tailored to suit the delicate feminine features of African woman.

taraHer journey which started several years back has shown that with determination, consistency and integrity, success is attainable.

For many, her story has been celebrated because she started doing a business that didn’t exist before in this part of the world, which is inspiring and great.

More inspiring is the fact that she has built her business from just doing makeup to having her beauty products line, having chains of training schools and luxury studios built with the brand experience in mind.

In this interview with Esther Onyegbula, she shares how she was able to turn a passion into a goldmine, her company’s empowerment drive, her new studio and the future.

Impact of make-up on the Nigeria’s economy

One of the strategic intent of our make-up brand is based on empowerment. Our desire to continuously be an enabling brand is to create avenues where people develop their skills based on their passion for beauty and become entrepreneurs or business owners.

The impact of that is that for every 1000 makeup artists that trained in our schools across Nigeria, whether it is in our school in Ilorin, Bayelsa, Lagos or Benin, they can now become their own business owners.

The impact of that is that many of them can now begin to build their own micro businesses and employ one or two persons. By the time they employ one or two persons, first of all, they themselves have left the pool of unemployed people.

And those they now engage are also pulled out of the pool of unemployment. This has a catalyst effect on the economy. Some of the married ones find a source of income to support their families.

Future focus

Our focus in the next five years is to remain true to our strategy which is to constantly be that enabling brand.We also want to continue to build the infrastructure that can create the platform and distribution channel where other brands can find expression and sustain education.

That way,people who are developing in the makeup school can support the industry and give the brands not just the infrastructures  required to present our products properly to the consumer but also to have the calibre of staffing and team that can help them express their unique brand.

In the next five years,  you are going to see more House of Tara across the country. We are going to stay focused to our empowerment.

You will see the core driver of our strategy at multiple levels; whether in terms of the sales force that is carrying the products across to Nigeria or in terms of the people who will train in the make-up school to start their own businesses or the platform we create for other Nigerians or international brands to find expression through our multiple channel distribution approach.


To a large extent, the brand is an expression of who Tara Durotuye really is, and as a person, the story is always told of how when I was a little child, whenever I visited my grand mother in the village, I’d pick up the children of her tenants and because I went to a private school, I could teach the children what they didn’t know, and every time I could from those holidays, I did that and people used to call me teacher.

So, House of Tara teaching and empowering people is still an expression of who I am. But I am also grateful to God that people are attracted to the brand and they come and work for the brand because they find it as a way of developing themselves as well as others. We are proud of the role that we are playing in developing the economy and the people.


We have already expanded, we already have 14 branches and we are working on adding 14 more. The reason why it is taking us this long and why we think that we can jump from 14 to 28 is because we have spent time, taking it step by step, in building the first fourteen.

This means that we grew organically, we learnt from our mistakes and we now know what it cost us to be able to open these branches across the countries. Hence, we have picked how many empowerment centres we want to have and how many Mall stores we want to have. It is based on that survey that we are doing this expansion.

Generating finance

We have reached a stage in our business where financing is no longer an issue because we can generate the funds internally to expand and we can also engage our bankers to finance a portion of that expansion. Initially, we have issues with financing because many people didn’t understand beauty as a business.

So, the bankers were not interested in financing but we have jumped that hurdle and the industry is getting bigger and bigger. The bankers also understand that beauty is the  next Telecommunications and internet business. These are what we have taken into consideration. We are going to employ people and it is also important that we make a difference.

Cost implication

Yes, you should understand makeup is as important as food for women. When you walk or drive around, look at the faces of each woman to see how many of them won’t have makeup: foundation, eye shadow, lipstick, lips gloss. How many women will leave their houses without wearing makeup? Each time you find a woman wearing makeup, just know that it is money that is being transferred to the beauty industry.

The 100 voices project

The hundred voices is a CSR arm of our brand and it’s focused on celebrating young women and men of enterprise who have shared their stories with us in the past and whose stories have inspired us. We took their stories, brought it out to the world because the world needed to hear their stories and be inspired by it.

We want the stories to change the perception of Nigeria to a point where people no longer see Nigeria as that place where young girls go to Italy for prostitution but that place where young girls are enterprising, industrious and courageous. We know that there are challenges in Nigeria but in spite of these challenges, people are still doing something.

A formidable force

I think there are two things that have kept me strong all these years, and one of them is the vision that I have. I didn’t go into this business to copy anyone. I went into this business because I knew that this is what I should be doing at this time of my life. So, I have a vision and that vision is what keeps me going.

Secondly I have been blessed with people who carry the vision of brand, and run with it. They are assets to us. They are called employees by other people but they are assets to us as a company, and their commitment to the vision is what keeps the vision going.

So even when there are days that I am disoriented they will remind me of where we are going and how far we have come. I have also created a system that works; our company is very structured, process and policy oriented as a business.

Over the last few years I focused on that, building within the system to ensure that the business can out live me, and that the business is sustainable. For us to have lasting companies in Nigeria, we need to focus on building structure around the business not around the person, but rather round the systems, the structure and policies that worked.