Tara Fela-Durotoye popularly known as Tara “Orekelewa” which means beautiful or beauty in her native west-arfican language is the managing director and creative director of HOUSE OF TARA International, a make-up and skincare line targeted at women of color. She is a veteran in the beauty industry and the pioneer of bridal make-up in Nigeria. She launched the first bridal directory in Nigeria (1999), set up the first high standard make-up studio, and the very first make-up school in the country. She was also the first make-up artist to launch a beauty product line. Tara is seen as an inspiration to many young women, as she has empowered quite a number (especially those in tertiary institutions) by making them beauty representatives of her product line, which has helped young ladies improve their entrepreneurial and marketing skills, as well as gain some form of financial independence in a difficult economy. She has also succeeded in training and developing an impressive number of make-up artists through her make-up school. Tara is an acclaimed winner of international and national awards. Awards such as Entrepreneur of the Year (2006), Pioneer Award for Beauty (2006), Young Person of the year (2007), The Wedding Planner Honorary award for mentoring other make-up artists (2008) and others.
Tara studied Law at the Lagos state university, Nigeria from the year 1996 to 2000. She attended Charles Fox (Covent Garden,London) to get trainned and certified, and in a bid to get more professional, attended the LEAP African Business Managers Forum (2005) and the Lagos Business School Ownner-Manager Programme in 2006 (House of Tara 2009).
Tara’s involvement with beauty and make-up was highly influenced by her step mother whom she was very fond of as a child. Her step mother according to her, was very much in touch with femininity and could be described as ‘vain’. This made her very aware of make-up and beauty products at an early stage in life and sub conciously,formed a mini-foundation on what later on became her passion. Her journey started as far back as when she graduated from high school and was seeking admission into university. While waiting at home to get into university, she got a part-time job working in a perfume and cosmetics store. That was her very first step into the world of beauty and it’s allure. While working at the store, she had the opportunity to prcatise on customers and herself while idle (on a slow day when not many customers came in) and slowly, she began to educate herself on the power of make-up under the mentorship of her boss. By the time she got admission into university, she was no longer an amateur. The time spent in the perfume and cosmetics store had been well invested and she had now learned through practise how to apply make up. She had developed a flair for it and I quote what she said ” you see, I loved it! I loved to make people beautiful and I was passionate about making people love the way they looked albeit enhanced by make-up, but the way they looked nontheless”(Durotoye 2010) While at school, she practised frequently on her friends whenever they were invited for ocassions and started her business. Through this, she began to make some money for herself. She was actually able to pay her way through school, rent an apartment and even help with her sick father’s medical bills. At that point in her life, her father had suffered a stroke,leaving half of his body paralyzed. Her mother, though she was working with the Nigerian Civil Service at the time, had to take care of her father, giving up all businesses on the side. So obviously, her mother already had enough on her hands, so she did her best not to be a liability and instead was an asset to to her family through her gifted hands and her passion for make-up.
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Another highly influential force in her life was her husband, Fela Durotoye. When Tara met Fela, he was a consultant at Phillips Consulting with a solid business management background. He saw the potential in her and helped her build her small business (as of then) into something remarkable. He thought her basic things such as customer service, product management, and how to create a database for her customers. She undoubtedly had the talent, skills, and a growing customer base, but he brought some form of finesse and experience into her business which helped her succeed even more.
She started out small, but her name spread from place to place little by little around the country. She took a leap of faith even when the concept of bridal make-up was very limited in Nigeria, made herself a name, set-up a make-up studio, started a beauty school; which is where the idea of beauty representatives to sell her products originated from and now has her very own product line. She launched her perfume called ” be inspired” in the year 2007 and is currently writing a book on how she turned her passion into a profit making venture.
Tara and Fela are currently happily married and blessed with three children.
The Leader/ Founder: According to Burns(2007), the role of a successful entrepreneurial leader involves patience, the ability to infuse solid or tangible visions and management for the long haul.
Tara Fela-Durotoye is the founder of House of Tara international. She is highly respected by most of her staff and even colleagues in the make-up industry in Nigeria. Tara’s personality, like most entrpreneurs is very positve and optimistic. She has a firm believe in God and built her business in the most ethical way possible, emulating one of her mentors Anita Roddick (the founder of Body Shop).
Opportunity: Accoding to Burns (2007), entrepreneurs in contrast to regular people, adapt,exploit, and welcome change by creating an opportunity out of it through innovation. In the case of Tara Fela-Durotoye, she welcomed the change to the make-up enviroment at the perfume store where she had her first job, by using it to build on an innate skill. As at that time, most customers were not really familiar with the make-up facial sample testing, but because the owner of the store had lived abroad, she brought the mentality home to Nigeria with her, which was a new approach to selling make-up back then. This provided the opprotunity to learn and led to a series of events that occurred through innovative ideas (opening a bridal make-up studio, make up school and having a cusmetic product line). Other business opportunities she had where:
Her spouse, who was her business consultant
A chinese business partner who came into the picture when she decided to launch her cosmetic product line.
Employment of a general manager, who was an MBA graduate of Lagos Business School, who helped build the franchise document and implemented it. This enabled her to sell the HOUSE OF TARA franchise, thus, accelerating geographic expansion
Team: According to Lockett (2010), it is an illusion to assume that entrepreneurs are totally independent. The most successful entrepreneurial leaders are those who have built good teams and have good relationships with the individuals that surround them. Tara’s team consists of a general manager,a business consultant, a chinese business partner, an administrative team, a sales and marketing team, and about 300 beauty representatives who are marketing her cosmetic products.
Process: According to Baron and Shane(2005), entrepreneurship is descibed as a process rather than a single event. The process is considered to move through distinct but holistic phases that unfold over time. This process consists of idea generation, opportunity recognition, and the exploitation of that opportunity (Lockett 2010). These series of events would be shown in the diagram below:
The entrepreneurial process
The birth of the idea of the make-up business from the time spent and skills acquired from her fist job at the perfume and cosmetic store. She then realized her potential through the process of “sample testing” on customers.
The opportunity to turn her hubby into a profit making venture presented itself when the change in the area of purchasing cosmetics (sample testing) was tapped into as a business idea to be learnt from and exploited even after leaving the store.
From exploitation of ‘change’ to a ripple of ideas and opportunities
Expressed as a business model
Source: Lockett 2010
OPPORTUNITY BUSINESS MODEL
Source: Lockett 2010
To enrich the lives of young women by offering them quality products to enhance their beauty and self esteem. These beauty products that can also be used as a tool for becoming financially independent.
The leader is Tara Fela-Durotoye, her husband Fela Durotoye is her business consultant, she has a Chinese business partner for ease with product development and expansion and her team consists of a general manager, an administrative team, marketing and sales team, and beauty representatives. Her customers are women of color, and her supplier is also her Chinese business partner.
For now Tara’s business is still based in Nigeria though she has plans of expansion. Are customers are women in Nigeria, her and her competitors are other make-up artists such as unveil, divine looks, BM Pro, and so on.
Analysis of the market: Tara was a pioneer in the make-up industry in Nigeria. She was the first to set up a bridal studio, make-up school, and make-up product line. This has made it quite difficult for her competitors to catch up, her market share is quite large and she also has first mover advantage.
House of Tara has an MD/ CEO, a general manager and the rest of her team (as mentioned earlier). But the uniqueness of the structure of this organization is the beauty representatives’ idea. About 300 of them are currently marketing her products after they have been trained.
As an entrepreneur, Tara started her business because she had a passion for beauty and of course made profit from it. She believes in giving back to the community, and inspiring others.
Social return: Tara, through her ‘giving back’ venture, has gained the heart of youths, which has helped in expansion of her brand name across most universities in Nigeria.
She has also made an irrefutable impact on the press, which has made her become a ‘media darling’.
The only societal driver in this case was the change in the make-up sales procedure. The society as at the time Tara began her entrepreneurial journey had not keyed into the idea of ‘sampling before buying’. After the society recognized this new process and accepted it, her business idea benefited from this social change(though it was not of her making) through her bridal studio as people now saw the need to ‘test’ and ‘sample’ make up, especially for very important occasions such as weddings.
Information for this was not attainable
Information for this was not attainable
Online social networking was a great opportunity for Tara’s business venture, she possesses an active website, has a face book group, and a personal blog.
Resources: According to Hitt et al (2002), in order to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities with maximum potential returns and exploit them by using efficient approaches, an appropriate set of resources are required.
Tara’s resources into her new business venture were very limited. She did not have any financial back up from her parents, but because she had started at an early stage she had a little financial back up but along the line she became partner with a Chinese business man who helped her fulfill the dream of having her own make-up line. She also had financial aid from multinational companies. However it is easier to narrate now than it actually was back then, she said, and I quote “this business started from a box that I used to carry around making up people’s faces”.
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What could be deduced from all that has been stated above is that there is a link between each constituent of the road map. The founder of the business has an idea or dream, identifies an opportunity, exploits it, and creates a new venture from all this. And because entrepreneurs are not completely independent (Lockett 2010), they need a team to carry along to help fulfill the dream. That is where the team members come in, and here, the leadership skills also come into play. The resources help solidify the dream and the process wraps the journey all up.
Role of Social Networking and Social Capital:
According to Hitt et al (2002), formation of alliances and networks has become an important part of organizing to obtain the necessary resources and means to compete effectively in a business environment. Other than this, the formation of these alliances helps in the development of resources and means that are not easily imitated by others, which would lead to gaining competitive advantage.
Tara started her business through word of the mouth. Social networking has been a huge part of her success. Most of her contacts were gotten from one individual who knew another who could be of value to her. For example her second bridal make-up job when she first started out, her Chinese business partner, the employment of her general manager( by recommendation), and even her image. She built her image by granting multiple interviews, creating an online presence through face book, personal blog and the creation of an active website, offered free scholarships for enrollment at her make-up school for the less privileged, became a public speaker by organizing youth seminars in universities, so as to put her company in the minds of people (branding) and sponsored events regularly. Her networking skills helped build her image and this resulted in making her ‘darling’ with the press, which further promoted her products. She also uses her network for the patronage of her products within the upper and middle class women within the community.
Her mentor Mrs Ibukun Awosika was her link to bridging talks between the company and the bank for her first substantial debt into the business that was required for expanding her product line. This influx of debt from Guaranty Trust Bank (Lagos, Nigeria) aided the rapid geographical expansion of House of Tara. Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ) also created a platform for her participation in the US State department / Fortune’s powerful women’s mentoring programme.
Ethical issues: Tara is a very good Christian and believes very strongly in God. Auditors when examined her accounts often advise her to stop giving away so much money to churches; they felt too much money was being wasted. But she stood her grounds and insisted that God was her ultimate source.
Entrepreneurial Attribute Analysis: Tara’s entrepreneurial attributes would be compared with the core attributes in the model below:
Source: Lockett 2010
Commitment and determination: Following her story, one could easily see that she had these qualities.
Leadership: Her story is that of success, she wouldn’t have made it that far if she didn’t possess good leadership skills. Moreover, she has the respect and admiration of her staff and even her competitors.
Opportunity Obsession: Tara could be seen as an opportunist. She was the first in every move, first make-up artist, first studio owner, and the first product line owner in the Nigerian beauty industry.
Tolerance of risk: All her steps into new ventures and ideas where risky. She had no one’s mistakes to learn from in the industry.
Ambiguity and Uncertainty: She possessed these as well; no one could anticipate her next move.
Creativity, Self-Reliance, and Adaptability: Tara was creative, hence the idea generation for business. She also had no one but herself to rely on at the initial start of the business and lastly, she adapted excellently to changes in the business environment, she created opportunities out of them.
Motivation to excel: Her motivation was herself, her mentors and God.
Courage: She possessed huge amounts of courage; she ventured into her business all by herself with no examples to follow in her particular industry.
Tara Fela-Durotoye’s entrepreneurial road map and process from the very first step of idea generation to building a national brand soon to be international brand-name has been a success. The critical review of her journey as an entrepreneur has been contrasted with theoretical frame-works, and has not shown much of a difference. The only difference noticeable is the fact that the entrepreneurial process may not evolve step by step as seen in Tara’s case. She had the ‘opportunity’ to work at a cosmetics store before she ever had the ‘idea’ of becoming a make-up artist, opening her own studio and becoming a veteran in Nigeria’s cosmetic industry. In her own case, opportunity brought about ‘idea’.
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