Sola Olamide Okeowo is CEO, Royalty Makeovers. A friend following stories on http://jidealara.blogspot.com introduced me to S.O.O as I fondly call her. Considering her dual employment status, my friend thought she could be an interesting and unveiling participant of Project DONE. He sure was right. Alongside being Boss of Solmid-Roylaty, S.O.O is also a full time employee in one of Nigeria's most important public offices. During our pre-interview chat, we both had curious first impressions; it was senseless fixing another date for the interview. We carried on the gist immediately. I invite you into our conversation.
Q. Tell me a little about S.O.O
A. (Laughs) S.O.O ko, SOS niii. (Laughs again) Sola Okeowo is a graduate of Information Resource Management from Babcock University. She loves drawing and in general has a flair for creativity and artistic things.
Q. What does Solmid-Royalty do?
A. SOLMID-ROYALTY MAKEOVERS is an outfit dedicated to bringing out the beauty in every bride. We engage in Bridal makeover services such as Facial Makeovers, Hair Styling, Beauty Consultancy and Head Gear Tying. I also give formal trainings in all these.
Q. How long have you been doing this profitably?
A. Since 2006.
Q. In order to be clear, is your business solely dedicated to brides?
A. The artistry came naturally. My mum was a heavy make-up person and I was the last of five girls. Growing up, every girl in my house had well carved out eyebrows; lovely painted lips, polished eyelids and well powdered face. I always asked questions and fancied knowing more about makeovers. Whenever my mum or elder sisters started preparations for outings, I was always asking questions. What’s the eye-pencil used for? What’s the mascara used for? What colors went together with the lipstick and eye-pencil? When they weren't making up, I was in their rooms, toying with makeup kits. So, I grew up in such environment. But, the discovery to my capability came in my 3rd year in Babcock University. Normally in school, we aren’t allowed to wear pronounced make-up but for a while, I had been taking the risk. Highly projected red lipstick, largely carved out eyebrows, blush filled cheeks and well styled hair. I scaled over administrative persecution many times but not loads of goodwill gestures. Friends always passed compliments about my makeovers and asked me to teach them how to do theirs. This for me was very inspiring and it went on for a long time. My most loving memory was making-up 5-6 girls on their Matriculation Day. With limited resources, everybody testified the girls turned out extremely gorgeous. I was praised so much and my future in makeovers was debated about several times.
Q. So how come you are where you are today and not doing makeovers full time?
Q. So how come you are where you are today and not doing makeovers full time?
A. They say diversity is power. Plus, if I have means to multiply my streams of income, it’s only sensible I do so. Yes am currently surviving off both the informal and formal sector but truth be told, have never since my university days stopped doing makeovers. I love what I do. I probably just never concentrated on it full time. When I finished university, I needed some kind of job security. I wasn’t prepared to take the risk of starting up a business and taking all challenges alone. I might still not be. I hope to grow Solmid-Royalty but for now, I really need some kind of leverage. Solmid-Royalty is part time while my public sector job is full time. I never stopped or put a hold on Solmid-Royalty while searching for a 9 to 5 job. Seeking for a job then was a job on its own and Solmid-Royalty was also another job. I made money from Solmid_Royalty then to keep me going while searching for a guaranteed remunerating source. . I have big dreams and visions for Solmid-Royalty and don’t think such can be materialized in 6 years. However, each day, I feel I’m getting closer and closer to actualizing these dreams. More so, under the circumstance of our country, one needs as much leverage as one can get. I really enjoy both jobs and they don't in anyway conflict the other. I have made good money from Solmid-Royalty and also being paid well at my full time job.
Q. Hmmm…. Well I have talked to folks in the makeover industry who just less than 5 years have created a thriving and profiting brand image for themselves.
A. I have done quite similar. I might not be totally consistent with the industry but my jobs speak volume and are identified with. I get offers I turn down very often due to lack of time. A thriving and profiting brand Solmid-Royalty has achieved but it would have achieved more in 6 years if I gave it my full time concentration.
Q. What more?
A. I could by now have my own studio or be handling fashion shows, photo shoots and editorials internationally.
Q. So which sector has been more profiting?
A. (Breathes deep) Hmmmm, financially, Solmid-Royalty has been more profiting without a doubt. But in terms of leverage, job security and societal recognition, my full time work has done well. Also, from my full-time job, am guaranteed at the end of every month, no matter what, a reward. For now, Solmid-Royalty can't guarantee me that. Some months are totally booked but I then could go on 2 months after that with no job at all. Fingers are not that equal and for me, I need job security. I can’t bare the risk all alone. I’m consistently working towards certain goals for Solmid-Royalty and in the long run, when I have the resources and confidence, Solmid-Royalty would get to the level of my dreams. For now we not doing so badly.
Q. So why doesn’t Solmid-Royalty always pre-occupy you every month? Don't your jobs get satisfactory pass marks or referrals to get more jobs?
A. I don't think so. My pictures speak for themselves. I guess for me its mostly because of price. People hardly ever want to pay for the kind of service they require. And with the kind of products I use, I hardly settle for jobs that don't meet a certain standard. A lot of people come to me for jobs but they tend not able to afford service.
Q. So you turn down clients?
A. Yes. Some mostly because of time frame and inability to afford the services they require.
A. I use Sleek, Iman, MAC, Mary Kay, Tara and a host of very exclusive products. Rates depend relatively on a host of things- Location, Duration of Stay, Length of Event i.e. it’s a day event or a two-day event (engagement and wedding), number of wardrobe change etc. Nevertheless, the most cost effective service for a bridal makeover you can get from Solmid- Royalty is N35, 000.
Q. Are these products available here in Nigeria or are they…?
(Cuts in……Laughs) Sure they are.
Q. Oh ok.. I was just thinking why clients don't rather buy them for personal use and have your likes just pay for service?
A. Some do so but mostly not brides. Brides prefer tool kits of makeover artists.
Q. Do you currently have employed staff or at anytime during Solmid-Royalty's six-year duration employed anyone?
A. No. Not at all, it’s been only me. I have done trainings for loads of people and had friends and relatives as assistants and models, but never financially recruited staff.
Q. Tell me about your trainings and beauty consulting.
A. Yes. I do Makeover and Head Gear training and tutor these classes only on Saturdays. As regards beauty consulting, it’s relative and depends on that which one inquires about. Since 2006, I can’t count the number of trainings I have done formally and informally; both makeover and gele.
Q. So 6 years in this business, why have you still chosen to remain a full time employee and still be Boss of Solmid-Royalty?
A. Like I said earlier, there is power in diversity. Am just simply enjoying it and when the time is ripe and the resources are available; I’ll focus on solely concentrating on one. For now, I depend more on my full time work and need its leverage to work Solmid-Royalty part time until resources are available for Solmid-Royalty to actualize my dreams and aspirations.
Q. Why don't you have more vision and dreams for a career in your full time employment?
Solmid-Royalty is my first passion. It’s my love. Its what I indeed love doing. Its not a job for me, its more or less like an hobby. I love making Brides look gorgeous. Also through this hobby and passion, I would be able to transform lives. I would be able to empower people by teaching them these skills God has given me and then granting limitless opportunities to many by being part of Solmid-Royalty. We have so many jobless ladies out there and one of my dreams for Solmid-Royalty is to use it has a platform to empower women. If I can be supported to take Solmid-Royalty to the level my aspirations in terms of owing a studio probably and having some financial support, without a doubt, I would start today.
S.O.O’s argument in most parts of our conversation I found to an extent reasonable. Am very glad she has discovered herself and also identified specific strengths and weaknesses of her part time business but unhappy she has chosen to stop, conclude and settle for what she discovered and understands. She seems content with the restricting understanding and plans to work out growth from it. This is tough to achieve. Rather, it could hinder future goals and dreams of transformation when opportunity presents itself again. S.O.O’s perception of her strengths and weaknesses constantly dominates her mind and thus controls or should I say, hinders her actions. Her expertise is capable of developing something greater than its present circumstance but is hindered by presiding self-conclusions of limited capacity and the lustful mirage of "two is more". The moment we fail to engage in repetitive self-discovery and re-evaluation and choose not to take up challenges and risks but bow to prevailing circumstances, we cripple individual and in the long run, societal productivity. In my view, S.O.O is a bit in that trap. She has discovered herself beautifully but as put a halt in continuously re-discovering her capabilities by taking risks. She needs to take some level of risks, if not any, at least calculated risks. Lets not rely on hope if we choose not to masturbate it into appearance. We can never know more than we are exposed to so in order to know, we have to be free-spirited, to an extent vulnerable, embrace opportunities and take risks.
To quit her present full time job and focus on Solmid-Royalty isn’t what am insinuating but the fact that she testifies to needing material resources for growth or expansion and not realising that commitment to her craft/expertise/skill in whatever she seeks to do is the greatest and most influencing value that would accelerate patronage and promotion makes me a bit unhappy. We are that which we seek. S.O.O is good in what she does and I would refer her any day any time.
Telephone Number: 08028868110
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