Ape Taiwo…A Biochemist In The Fashion And Beauty Lounge
Call him jack of all trade and master of all you are not making a mistake. He is a fashion and beauty consultant, catwalk instructor and lecturer, and proudly calls himself an entrepreneur.
At first sight, you will think he is in his mid 20 as his trademark toothy smile often gives him away to the age. He found the suggestion amusing, but adds that this writer was not totally off the age mark.
Ape Taiwo, founder, TEEY Group of Models Academy, did not wake up to become the sought –after trainer of models and beauty queens. He grew his business from one stage to another, starting out as a fashion designer, while still a student. “My business grew in stages,” he said.
According to him, failure is an orphan, while success has many relatives. He stated that it was tough at the early stages of his business, as one of his siblings one day asked him why he should continue with the business if it cannot put food on the table for him.
“Thank God Almighty for his grace and mercy, and my family that believed in me. Today, they are the first to call and congratulate or tell me that they have seen me on television,” he stated.
For him, an individual should not rely on a particular trade to make a living as he once worked with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), adding that education is a great asset and vital to what a man chooses as career.
“Some people have asked me why I wasted time by going to school, but I handle chemicals and cosmetics as an expert. I know the consequences of having expired products in our markets; they are carcinogenic,” he said.
He adds, “It is only in Nigeria that a Make-up Artist learns the trade in two weeks; abroad they go to school for several years to study the art. Beauty is science; it is deeper than what make-up artists say. Where I lecture, I teach students Anatomy.”
As an entrepreneur, his concern is to make job available all the time, stressing that fashion is seasonal and every business needs creativity to make it successful.
He explained that his academy, TEEY Group of Models Academy, grooms models on cat walking and personality management. “We groom and prepare model for beauty pageants, build portfolio and photo sessions. Prospective models are often referred to our academy, while people who need advice on their beauty regimen are also introduced.”
As beauty expert, he was part of the organisers of Face of Unity, a beauty pageant for Central North in 2011. The pageant was an attempt to broker peace in that part of Nigeria. “The pageant brought together the religious groups as well as different ethnic groups,” Ape explained
His expertise was sought during the Miss Nigeria Trade pageant and model director, DBATS TV Reality show (also known as model with talent), where he did both facial make-up and facial treatment for the participants.
He is the organiser, Face of Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos and the coordinator cum instructor for the models during the Miss Green contest, which held in Abuja. He is also the organiser of Miss University of Jos, and initiated the Mr. University of Jos pageant. He has been a member of panel of judges in pageants and fashion shows across the country.
According to him, to be a successful model, there is need to work on ones’ self, stressing that success even in vanity arena demands disciplines and hardwork. “Go to school and have a profession besides modeling and make that a career to fall back on. Many models are talented in other arts like singing and acting; look at those areas too. It becomes tough for a model because a new face comes to the scene all the time.
“Another challenge is money. Some are lucky as they become successful in a short time, while some may need to be patient for a little longer. If you love and do your job diligently, people will look for you. But girls are not prepared to work hard; they expect the money to flood in. Modeling like any other job demands hardwork,” he declared.
Another issue, he pointed out is age, saying that the woman’s body can only take so much strain till about 40 years, and at this time, she is past it, which many are. His advice however, is that they make hay while the sun still shines to have a trade to go to.
He noted that bodily issues like big stomach and stretch marks can ruin the chances of a youthful beginner. “Some girls often come to me that they are interested in modeling, but think they lack the requisite height. But like I always tell them, modeling is not about height alone; if you are beautiful, intelligent and smart, you stand a chance,” he stated.
“Runway requires height but beauty is not a factor because the clothes are the attraction. There is a part in modeling where a body part is all they want. For example toothpaste advertisement want to show a good set of teeth. Plus size models need to have proportionate body, healthy hair and skin. The weight at the top should match the lower frame. If the legs are tiny and the top is curvy attractive, she won’t be chosen,” Ape added.
He emphasized that infants are not left out, saying they make more money because it is not easy to get a baby to strike the correct pose.
On why he left his NAFDAC employment to get involved with models and beauty queens, Ape explains: “After I left the university, I worked in the cosmetic lab at NAFDAC, analyzing make-up and creams. I became interested and went to train as a beauty therapist. I have done other professional courses and I’m a licensed technologist and scientist. Remaining in NAFDAC he says would have meant loss of opportunity to meet great people.”
He further explained that as a beauty consultant, his job is to make sure that his client products meet the standard set by NAFDAC, adding that a beauty research centre is on the pipeline. He noted that as a beauty therapist, he works with other health professionals including medical doctor, microbiologist, pharmacist, nutrition scientist and dermatologist.
“We are trying to project beauty and put more therapeutic effect on it. We will go deep in body and skin analysis, and look at disorders and diseases control as well as management.”
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