Abiola Ahmed: For the love of skin
By Jemi Ekunkunbor
With a flawless skin that glows effortlessly, she stands as a walking advertisement for what she does. Abiola Ahmed is Founder/CEO, Hush’D Makeover Limited, a skincare, beauty and wellness brand.
Driven by the persistent inquiries from her clients to know the secret of her glowing skin, the graduate of Office Technology and Management from the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, who holds a Masters in Business Administration, MBA, from London Metropolitan University ( Executive MBA, Dubai Campus), Abiola was propelled to go into production of skin care products to meet the yearnings of her teaming clientele.
With her ability to drive growth coupled with cutting edge technology, Abiola in the last eight years, has been able to deliver innovative products and spread operations into other nations with 24 distributors driving sales across the globe.
Passionate about the beauty and wellness value chain, this wellness-driven mother and wife, also has luxurious spas and retreats scattered in prime locations in Lagos. Undaunted by challenges that usually confront budding businesses, Abiola has steered her business ship to safety and now stands as inspiration to young entrepreneurs looking to doing business in Nigeria.
How did you go from being a makeup artist to owning a skincare brand?
You know, it was actually my lovely clients who inspired me to leave my job as a makeup artist and start my own skincare company. Whenever I did their makeup, they would admire my glowing skin and become curious about my secret. That was when I started sharing with them that I make my own soaps and creams. They were intrigued and began requesting that I make products for them too. So, I set up a little display in my store where I showcased some of my homemade creations for them to try. Their excitement and support ignited my passion for skincare production and motivated me to further develop my knowledge in the field.
Was that your ultimate dream when you set out as a makeup artist?
My initial passion stemmed from my love for makeup and seeing people look and feel their best. I was motivated to learn makeup techniques so that I could enhance my own appearance and then extend that skill to help others achieve their best selves too. My dream then was to be the biggest makeup brand in Nigeria.
Did you get any training in skincare production before you ventured into it?
Absolutely! I made sure to invest in extensive training in skincare production, both locally and abroad. In fact, one pivotal experience was participating in a skincare masterclass conducted by an expert from Los Angeles. This immersive opportunity served as a catalyst for me to shift my focus towards creating comprehensive, premium-quality skincare products.
It looks like you also got caught up in the skincare revolution of 2014; what did you do to set your brand apart from others?
Trust me, it was purely coincidental, and it’s the reason why I have made concerted efforts with my team to distinguish our brand from others. My primary focus has been on crafting skincare products that are safe, healthy, and sustainable. I’ve striven to develop a comprehensive range of natural solutions that cater to a variety of skin types and concerns. Instead of relying on subjective terms like “natural” or “organic,” I’ve placed greater emphasis on ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and sustainability of my products.
What exact skin care problem does your brand address?
My brand addresses various skincare concerns like hydration, anti-ageing, brightening, and overall skin health. I’ve got an amazing collection of 40 products that work wonders for customers of all ages, genders, and complexions. Whether you want to keep your skin hydrated, fight signs of ageing, brighten your complexion, or improve overall skin health, I’ve got you covered!
Many women desire to have flawless skin; what mistakes do you think women make with their skincare?
I think a common mistake women make with their skincare is not understanding their skin type; this can lead to using products that may not be suitable for their specific needs. Additionally, neglecting sun protection and lacking a consistent skincare routine can also hinder achieving flawless skin.
What compulsory beauty regimen must women keep?
For me, I think it’s pretty much essential in terms of a beauty regimen for women to cleanse, tone, moisturise, and protect the skin from harmful UV rays using sunscreen. I’d like to think that these basic steps, form the foundation of good skincare practices.
Most creams contain skin-whitening chemicals; what is it with women and their quest to be fair?
Is it just me, or is there a tinge of gentrification in this question? Anyway, not all skincare products contain skin-whitening chemicals. While some creams specifically target hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone, many skincare products focus on hydration, anti-ageing, and brightening. As a skincare brand owner, I understand that the desire for fairer skin can be influenced by various factors, like cultural norms and the media’s portrayal of beauty. However, our brand promotes embracing natural skin tones and prioritising overall skin health. We celebrate beauty in all its shades, and offer products that enhance and nourish the skin. Our goal is to help customers achieve healthy, radiant skin.
What do you advise?
My advice is to prioritise skincare over skin colour. Embrace and take care of your natural skin tone; focus on maintaining healthy skin through proper hydration, nourishment, and protection. Remember that beauty comes in all shades.
What won’t you do in the name of beauty?
In the name of beauty, I would never compromise on the safety, integrity, or sustainability of my products. I am committed to creating products that promote skin health without harmful ingredients or unethical practices.
As an entrepreneur, what was the most difficult part of starting a business?
The most challenging part of starting a business as an entrepreneur was building a solid foundation and gaining credibility in the market. It required extensive research, relentless determination, and continuous improvement, to establish my brand as a trusted and respected player in the skincare industry.
Nigerians don’t usually like products made in Nigeria; how were you able to market HushD to potential customers?
While it is true that Nigerians may have reservations about locally-made products, I focused on delivering exceptional quality, efficacy, and customer satisfaction. By consistently delivering on these fronts and leveraging word-of-mouth recommendations, I gradually built trust and successfully marketed Hush’D Makeover to potential customers.
What existing beauty company did you model your brand after?
I did not model my brand after any existing beauty company. Instead, I aimed to create a unique and authentic brand identity that reflects my values, expertise, and commitment to quality.
Which beauty icon do you admire?
I admire Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija as a beauty icon. Her grace, strength, and remarkable achievements inspire me a great deal. She embodies the true essence of beauty through her resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to making a positive impact in society. Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija is a true role model for aspiring entrepreneurs, showcasing that beauty goes beyond external appearances and encompasses the power of inner strength and determination. Yes, she’s my ultimate beauty icon.
What beauty item can’t you do without?
One beauty item I can’t do without is a good quality facial moisturiser! It is essential for keeping my skin hydrated, nourished, and protected.
When you are not working, how do you like to chill?
When I am not working, I like to chill by spending quality time with my family. My husband and my son mean a lot to me, and I try to enjoy my free time with them.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
My favourite holiday destination definitely has to be Dubai. The vibrant cityscape, lush resorts, unlimited shopping experiences, and diverse cultural experiences make it an ideal place for me to unwind and enjoy a truly unforgettable vacation.
What’s your morning and evening beauty regimen?
My morning beauty regimen includes applying face toner, followed by a serum and moisturiser with SPF protection. In the evening, I double cleanse, use a gentle exfoliator twice a week, and incorporate a night cream or facial oil for added hydration and repair.
If a beauty product can’t solve a beauty problem, would you go under the knife?
For me, if a beauty problem cannot be solved by a skincare product, I would explore alternative, non-invasive solutions before considering any surgical procedures. It is essential to prioritise safety, consider all options, and consult with trusted professionals before making such decisions.
We are in the rainy season now, what beauty routine should we subscribe to and what kind of make up is appropriate?
These are some tips you can follow to make your beauty routine more suitable for the rainy season: Hydrate your skin with a suitable moisturiser, use a lightweight, water-resistant sunscreen, opt for waterproof or long-lasting makeup, choose a breathable foundation or tinted moisturiser, use waterproof or smudge-proof mascara and eyeliner, and keep your lips moisturised with lip balm or tinted products.
Where do you hope to see your brand in another decade?
In the next decade, our brand aims to be a global leader, known for innovation, quality, and sustainability. We envision expanding internationally by having a shop with Sephora and walk-in outlets in major cities around the world.