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‘The beauty industry is very vibrant, nothing like recession affects it’


Ibiwunmi (third left) with her workers at the Beauty Souk in Lagos

Ibiwunmi Akinnola is the CEO of Ibi’s Beauty Bar, a total beauty concern based in Lagos. Trained in the USA, she came back to the country to share her knowledge and help Nigerian women in the areas of beauty, etiquette and fashion. The former model turned beauty entrepreneur tells TOBI AWODIPE of the beauty industry and how it can help the economy as well as how young people can be self-made.

Briefly tell us about yourself and what Ibi’s is all about?
I am Ibiwunmi Akinnola, CEO of Ibi’s Beauty Bar, an image consultant, focusing on total body beauty. We also do makeup training, modeling, finishing and etiquette, we major in natural hair extensions and hair care as well as natural skin care products like shea butter and coconut oil.

There are so many people doing all these now, what makes Ibi’s stand out from the crowd?
First, I’ve been working in the beauty business for 32 years. I attended a modeling and finishing school in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States when I was a teen and I was a runway model. From there, I went to finishing school and trained as a teacher. I teach and train children on etiquette, proper behaviour and manners and how to look beautiful. I also teach women on how to change their look, what colours would suit, what to wear, what image they want to portray, appropriateness of the makeup and so on. I’ve had several clients where we spend weeks together, I provide complete makeovers, tell them what to wear for any occasion, how to conduct themselves and so on. I also do group training as well and at the just concluded Beauty Souk, we launched our new Ibi’s natural lashes, which is 100 percent natural, light and reusable. We also launched the Gele Ghen, which is very comfortable no matter how long you have it on. It is a mix of the traditional and modern, a mix of velvet and aso-oke and adires.

How has the journey been so far, wearing so many hats at the same time?
Beauty is all encompassing, coupled with my teaching background, I build curriculums and this makes it very easy to merge lessons, modeling and finishing together. Training, makeup and gele tying are together, natural hair extension and skin care is together. I’m all about beauty from the inside out, it comes naturally to me.

How will you rate the beauty industry seeing as the country is undergoing a recession and the economy isn’t buoyant?
The beauty industry is alive and vibrant. There are so many young, talented makeup artists coming up everyday, we are breaking new grounds in the beauty industry daily. If we compare makeup of few years ago to now, there is a world of difference. We have grown so much; there are so many people with their own brands, people developing beauty skincare and makeup for our colour, for Nigerians. It is good for the youth because it is providing employment for so many. I have a makeup artist that works with me part-time and goes to school as well, she’s making money and has the chance of owning her own business.

Do you think the industry can help the economy to grow?
One thing you have to know is that there has been no recession in the beauty industry because every woman wants to look beautiful all the time. If you don’t buy anything at all, you will still buy eyebrow pencil. When you’re feeling sad, sometimes, you just want to glam up your face to lift your mood. This industry is vibrant and there’s nothing like recession here. It is opening doors and presenting opportunities for growth and expansion for people that are interested, it allows just about anybody to earn money.

Your skin looks very good, tell us your beauty routine?
(laughing) I use only natural products. I use honey as a mask and Ibi’s natural coconut oil. I go into the villages to get the oil, it is cold pressed and I use it as a cleanser. We all know coconut oil is a miracle oil; it does a lot of things. I use my personal liquid black soap and I’m good to go. The black soap can be used by any skin colour, light or dark, it works very well on anyone.

Lots of people battle with skin issues, what advice would you give?
First, they must always wash their face before going to bed. Drink lots of water, as water is a cleanser. Use the right products and let your face breathe as much as possible. Eat your vegetables, fruits and maintain a balanced diet always.

You talked about using the right products for one’s skin, how do we know the right products to use?
It is advisable to meet with a professional who would tell you your skin type and what to use, do and/or avoid. After checking your skin, they would be in a better position to tell what kind of makeup products to use to enable best results.

What does your daily itinerary involve?
With four kids, anything can happen (laughing). After my morning devotion, I take care of my family then work a bit. I look at my lesson plan to see what is to be done for that day. After training, which is usually three or four hours daily, I go home to meet my family, relax and have dinner. I read books more than I watch TV, I love Nigerian channels a lot, and then I go to bed.

Several beauty events happen yearly, do you think these fairs help entrepreneurs?
Absolutely and it reveals a lot. Look at all the different people at the Beauty Souk, it shows how talented we are. I am a consultant to this fair and we were able to bring all the top, talented, well-known beauty entrepreneurs in the country under one roof, there is nothing like it in my opinion.

Where do you see the beauty industry in the next couple of years?
In the next five years, we are going to be exporting our beauty products to the world, winning awards internationally and generally doing big things. We study our products in detail here, we know our skin, what works for us and what to avoid. It’s only natural we break new grounds and reach new frontiers as time goes on.

In this article:
Ibiwunmi Akinnola
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