Tara Fela-Durotoye’s name is synonymous with make-up in Nigeria, being a pioneer in the make-up business at a time it was not recognised as a major source of income. She started out as a professional wedding make-up artist while still an undergraduate at the Lagos State University (LASU). There she opened the first House of Tara (HOT) make-up studio in 1998, which has grown to include no less than 20 studios across the country. Now she is sharing her trade secrets with younger women in order to inspire and empower them to succeed as well.

Through her make-up school – there are about 14 of them across the country – Tara is teaching young women the art and business of make-up with the hope that they go on to establish their own businesses.

“… young women in their 20s and 30s are being taught that makeup artistry can be their passport to self-confidence, independence, and a business of their own,” CNN said of her enterprise.

Fela-Durotoye (middle) with her husband (left) at the launch of her book, 100 Voices. Photo: tarafeladurotoye.blogspot.com
Fela-Durotoye (middle) with her husband (left) at the launch of her book, 100 Voices. Photo: tarafeladurotoye.blogspot.com

Fela-Durotoye was born in Lagos on born 6 March 1977. She attended the Command Children School and the Nigeria Navy Secondary School, both in Lagos. She then proceeded to study Law at LASU. She is married to business consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Visible Impact, Fela Durotoye, and they have three boys. Fela-Durotoye has said at different forums that she was drawn to the beauty industry by her step-mother who demonstrated the importance of make-up to a woman’s self-esteem and confidence.

In addition to her make-up studios and schools, the HOT brand includes perfumes and a line. She was inspired to start the make-up line due to the scarcity of products that are suited to dark skin women. The line has a range of products including make-up kits, powders, lipsticks, eye shadows, etc. Currently she has over 100 products in the West African market and over 3,000 sales representatives.

Because for Fela-Durotoye everything ties back to inspiring entrepreneurship, she recently published a coffee table book titled 100 Voices. The book details the experiences of some of her sales reps who are earning a living by distributing the HOT products. Speaking at the book launch in 2013, Fela-Durotoye said that the aim of the project was to encourage entrepreneurship through the propagation of testimonies of the sales reps whose lives have been transformed by the HOT business model.

“The book is not just a compilation of the inspiring stories of our beauty reps, it is a testimony. A testimony that we hope will encourage others to join House of Tara in this journey,” she said.

Fela-Durotoye. Photo: kamdora.com
Fela-Durotoye. Photo: kamdora.com

Embracing her leadership position in the industry in Nigeria, HOT organised the first make-up conference in Nigeria in 2014. The forum, Make-up In Nigeria Conference (MINC), was an avenue for professionals to brainstorm about ways to improve the sector while offering participants an opportunity to network and learn new skills.

“House of Tara is not just a business focused on its customers, it is also an industry enabler,” Fela-Durotoye told Channels TV in the build up to the event. “We are focused on opening up the space for expansion and for growth, and are also passionate about connecting entrepreneurs with opportunities.”

Her commitment to the evolvement of the beauty industry in Nigeria has not gone unrecognised. She is a recipient of the Future Award Young Person of the Year 2007 and in 2013, she was listed among Forbes 20 Young Power Women in Africa.

Her advice to aspiring make-up artists, as she told Encomium, is to “Invest in your idea, be the first to take the courage. If you have so much faith in it, you must have enough faith in it to put all your effort in it. It will encourage others to do so.”

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