‘We partner with international brands to establish indigenous beauty training schools’
A member of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board, Mrs. Tokunbo Chiedu cuts the picture of the modern day typical boardroom executive such that when one sees her, one may find it difficult to associate her with beauty and lifestyle businesses. But she provides beauty services as much as she is very much a boardroom guru. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Compass Global Business Services popularly known as Compass Consulting. Mrs. Chiedu is also the Founder of Serah’s Beauty Secrets International (SBSI). She spoke with OZO MORDI about the tasks and functions of each of her companies
What does Compass Global Business do?
Compass Global Services is a facilitator of business relationships. We create new market entries for brands. We are international consultants; so foreign businesses that want to come to Nigeria always approach us to help them come here. Nigerians who want to take their businesses abroad also ask us to help them. With this, Compass Global Business Services organises trade fairs to aid its business of trade and export promotion. My job is to help them develop a strategy that helps them to make the move. We deal in market and market intelligence. Many foreign businesses are eager to come to Nigeria, which is a big market.
But the Government has been moaning the lack of investors all the time, how do you get the investors to come?
Investors are not enough. Nigeria is the biggest market in the continent. The population makes it attractive to investors.
Your company The Building 66 is noted for beauty and lifestyle concerns. What exactly do you do there?
Compass Global sells nothing. SBSI is the one that operates the school of beauty, sales of products, provision of spa services as well as massages. The beauty academy is a permanent campus of Beauty Training Institute, South Africa.
Who inspired your entrepreneurial spirit?
I have drawn inspiration from having been close to my mother, Mrs. Serah Adunola Ajilore. The late Mrs. Ajilore was one of the foremost cosmetologists in Nigeria. She came back to Nigeria after having studied in the United Kingdom and United States of America to set up a training programme with the then Ministry of Education.
I am an avid entrepreneur. I like buying and selling; I am a natural marketer. Consultancy is only one part of me. Everything I do is me. Another part of me is the provision of the market; I like to ask what I could do to make businesses function well and I am happy to help make that to happen.
I am a daughter of a cosmetologist, hairstylist and make-up artist. I observed as my mother ran her businesses; you understand the mother-daughter relationship. Even without seemingly paying attention, a daughter picks up so much from merely being around her mother. She is indirectly being socialised.
I also saw my mother as she ran a travel agency at some point; she did it at the same time she was a distributor with major manufacturers in Nigeria.
Tell us about Serah’s Beauty Secrets International
Serah’s Beauty Secrets International (SBSI) was established in 2012 to be a cornerstone for the delivery of services, training and education to beauty professionals in this country and West Africa as a whole. Currently, we have a branch in Accra, Ghana. The company also provides opportunity for global brands who want technical partnership with institutions and stakeholders within the beauty sector; stakeholders who are interested in developing global practices to improve on professionalism and standards, especially in the spa/wellness and hairdressing sectors.
SBSI in conjunction with Compass Global and leading beauty brands in Europe and USA has been able to broker and forge relationships with some international brands to establish indigenous beauty training schools like Opral Benson Beauty Training School and Elegant Twins School of Hairdressing and Cosmetology.
Such partnership is making it possible for students of indigenous beauty schools to go through global training programmes by international brands through an internship programme, which was launched recently by SBSI in agreement with about five global brands. The unique plan of the programme is that at completion, students are sure to have employment or access to assistance to set up their own businesses through the SBSI’s ‘Run Your Own Beauty Business’ scheme.
SBSI has set up training centres where students are trained; it also offers a platform where paid services are delivered according to the protocol of the training brands.
You also sit on the Board of Lagos State Technical and Vocational Educational Board (LASTVEB). What are your functions there?
I am able to use the leverage of the international networks that Compass Global Business Services has to add value to Nigeria’s technical and vocational sectors. I am a member of a group that advises the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board and the National Board for Technical and Vocational Education.
What is the meaning of Gemology, the new beauty products that you just introduced into the market?
Gemology is a range of beauty products we have newly brought into the Nigerian market; they are made from gemstones. Some gemstones contain vitamins and trace elements as you find them in some foods. Banana, for example contain magnesium. Magnesium is equally obtained from opal. The stones are crushed, liquefied and the nutrients extracted to manufacture the products. The concept of gemology is to feed the skin directly with the nutrients; when you eat, you find that what the skin derives is minimal, the skin is the last to benefit. Gem stones are God’s gift to mankind.”
You’ve always been a silent operator, but have recently been creating a lot of hype for your brands. Tell us why.
Recently, SBSI organised an event tagged Fashion Meets Beauty at The Building. Ade Bakare the international fashion designer was guest of honour. The event was meant to show appreciation to media practitioners and the blogging community who have been partners in the promotion of beauty, fashion and lifestyle. It was a weeklong event which began with spa and beauty pampering and ended with a Sunday lunch. It was also to remember that the media is very relevant in building other brands as formidable brands in their own right. We wanted to focus on the media for a change.