By Linda Orajekwe
The beauty industry in Nigeria is presently a very saturated industry and because what most can think of is makeup artistry, not everyone has been able to see the versatility in lashes production and that is one Niche Maryanne Obichukwu John has carefully carved for herself.
With a dream to be the go-to brand for unique quality lashes that gives every woman joy, she has established Ryanne John, a beauty brand that is presently solving the problem of quality lashes for every beauty lover hence making herself Africa’s number one lash brand.
In this interview, Maryanne talks about running a beauty business in Nigeria, the challenges that come with it and what makes her brand different from every other beauty brands in the country.
Let’s talk about Ryanne John…
Ryanne John is a beauty centre that has every woman’s beauty as its best interest and right now, we are focusing on providing quality lashes for the Nigerian beauty industry. My name is Maryanne Obichukwu and my father’s name is John Obichukwu and since Obichukwu is a long name and might be difficult for some people to pronounce, I decided to go with my father’s name that can be easily pronounced by everyone, even non-Nigerians and I shortened my name, Maryanne to Ryanne hence Ryanne John. This has caused confusions because it makes some people think I’m not Nigerian and that I’m a man so they send me messages referring to me as Sir. I can’t count the number of times I have corrected them that I’m female and not male.
So when did you start?
My business, Ryanne John Nigeria Limited started in 2015 but the beauty side of the business in 2017. In 2015, I considered myself officially as a businesswoman championing the Ryanne John brand. Although before then, I’ve been running the business from Enugu and there have been some inconsistencies here and there, but then I moved to Lagos to make it more official.
When I started about eight years ago, it was majorly a hair business, until it evolved into what it is right now. During this evolution of my brand, I had to go through different training to horn my skills and acquire more relevant skills in my field so that I can build a profitable brand and I am still learning so I can stay updated in what’s happening in my industry. So officially, I started in 2015 but I’ve been running the business unofficially for eight years now.
What did you study and how does that have to do with beauty?
I studied medical microbiology and although it is not synonymous to beauty, but beauty is one thing I’ve always loved and that love for beauty is what influenced me in created my own lash brand. Coming to Lagos, I went to learn from some of the best makeup artists in Lagos, from Oshewa to Bibiyonce and during this time I realized that lash extension is an important aspect of the makeup industry.
There’s no way someone will have a full face glam without lashes and what that simply told me is that lash completes the look and looking at the business part of it, I realized that this is something I use every day to use on my client and I was buying from cheap brands that are even Chinese with really low quality and because I stand for quality products, I decided to take it upon me to provide Nigerians and other beauty lovers the kind of eyelash that they deserve, aside the fact that I can make money out of it and it will also save them the stress of buying outside the country because I have taken it upon myself to bring it down for you.
How would you say what you studied is being used in your business?
It is actually really useful and with this business, I have come to realize that nothing learned is wasted. Everything you’ve learnt is useful one way or the other, you haven’t just realized it. If someone had told me that I’ll apply some things I learnt in microbiology in this business, I probably would’ve laughed at them, but trust me I am applying a lot of knowledge learnt in school especially in understanding the ingredient used in products such as lash glues and mascara.
My knowledge makes me more concerned about the ingredients used in production. I’ve been to SON; Standard Organization of Nigeria to register my business and of course cross check if my products meet up to the standard and I can boastfully say that they do and that assurance doesn’t make me scared if NAFDAC should visit my premises because I know that everything is in proper condition and I’m able to check these things because of the knowledge that I have from Microbiology.
Secondly, I ensure the workplace I operate in is neat because I understand how fast microorganisms can infect some of the tools we use so I try to keep my space clean and sanitized. So this knowledge helps me stay conscious.
So what are some of the challenges you face in this business?
Running a business like this comes with a lot of challenges, but one that has been recurrent and might also be faced by other business women and men is the issue of delivery. After all you go through to produce and project your brand to the world and people start patronizing you, delivery services will now disappoint you because they hardly come through and this affects the trust your clients have for you and your brand because they start calling when the delivery guys don’t meet up to the time you give them.
And it’s so sad that I can’t deliver these things myself and for a business to grow, you have to delegate some of these things. I just wish the delivery guys will make things easier for us especially since we don’t have branches around the country yet for people to easily access our products.
Another challenge we face is competitors bringing in inferior products at cheaper prices thereby making your products that is ordinarily affordable too expensive. Some go as low as putting their names on substandard products and sell at a price that doesn’t even look realistic for the product you’re offering and since there’s no way for some to tell which is original and fake until it has been used, they flood the market with this inferior lashes. Although some people understand the work we do and the difference between what we sell and what the fake is, we have more people who just want cheap lash irrespective of the quality which is not a good thing.
What does your brand bring to the beauty market that doesn’t already exist?
Focusing on our lash, we have different varieties of it and this has made us stand out over time and is still making us stand out. We are the only lash brand in Africa that has all the varieties of lashes and I got to know about that through research, knowing what we don’t have in the Nigerian beauty market and looking for ways to get that fixed and provide that.
Working that way, we have been able to introduce different kinds of lashes into the Nigerian market and we did that in 2017. Some of the beauty brands might have it right now, but we take pride in the fact that Ryanne John Lashes introduced all the variables into the Nigerian market.
From mink to silk, DIY, Semi-permanent individual lash extension and magnetic lashes. We also have the LED light lashes which is not yet popular in the Nigerian beauty space, plus every curl and different kind of thicknesses; we brought most of these into the country and we are happy to have done so.
In terms of what my brand is bringing to the industry, I don’t know what all brands have and I do not know about all the brands in the beauty industry, but I can speak for my rand to say that Ryanne John is an authentic brand that speaks only of its high quality and unique products.
We give you more value for your money and if you’re buying a mink lash, be rest assured you’ll get a quality mink lash and nothing less of that and these words are not me trying to see my brand for what it isn’t, but the testimonials we have had overtime has proven that belief to be true over and over again. Ryanne John is a brand of quality and class.
So going forward, what’s Ryanne John planning to be in the beauty industry?
The plan is to have a sustainable business in the beauty sector and that means accommodating what the NIGERIAN woman wants. We plan to have a have a beauty lounge where whenever people come in, they’ll go out feeling fly and way better about their look which we believe will ultimately make them happier people for themselves an people around them.
What would you want people to think about when they think of Ryanne John?
When you think Ryanne John, I want you to think of the beauty that makes everyone happy about who they really are, from hair and makeup, which also involve having the perfect lash for your eyes