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On this edition of ENTREPRENEUR OF THE WEEK, Accelerate TV speaks with one of our favourite beauty professionals, the CEO and Creative Director at Feyzo! Makeup Artistry, Oluwafeyisayo Oyebisi. 

Feyisayo answers a round of questions about the effects of COVID-19 on the beauty business while discussing how to turn your passion into a career. She also discusses what motivates her to use herself as a canvass to tell stories and inspire change amid the pandemic. 

With a creative and passionate entrepreneurial mindset, Feyisayo decided in her 20s to turn makeup into a full-time career. Over the years, she has built a solid business on expressing her artistic side and passion through makeup and body art. Feyisayo is currently the creative director behind most of the stunning makeup looks seen on the faces of stars who appear on our monthly magazine, THE COVER. Samples of her SFX art can be seen in Nollywood movies, music videos and other photoshoots. 

In addition to owning Feyzo! Makeup Artistry, the vivacious, fun-loving Feyisayo recently added beauty retailer to her list of achievements. She launched her own skincare line called Kazai Organics where she holds the role of certified Organic Skincare Formulator. Kazai Organics was created with the primary aim of giving African women a complete line that meets all of their skincare needs and giving African men a beard kit that keeps them feeling sharp and looking perfectly-conditioned at all times.

 

Makeup can be used to tell a story, create awareness about a cause or it can just be an expression of pure art! 

Feyisayo FEYZO

It’s no surprise that beauty service workers, such as makeup artists, are facing the most difficult challenges in the industry. Despite the upcoming re-opening of salons, the actual individuals who work magic on our faces, eyebrows, and skin will not yet be allowed to go back to work, as such roles employ techniques that make social-distancing difficult.

To get a sense of what makeup artists and other skincare professionals are currently facing, we spoke to Lagos-based makeup artist and influencer Feyisayo of FEYZO MUA.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  

Accelerate – Was your business affected by COVID prior to the lockdown? If yes, for how long and how?

Feyisayo: Yes. I had several shoots scheduled prior to the lockdown and not one of them was unaffected by the restrictions placed on movement and other business operations.  Just a few weeks before the lockdown, I had a series that was supposed to start and I was also meant to travel to Mauritius to shoot a movie. There were also a couple of one-day shoots that were scheduled for that week and the next. All of those were suspended. Nobody had an idea that there was going to be a total lockdown but it was apparent that we shouldn’t gather to shoot. 

 

Due to MUA’s being shut down, how are you shifting your focus to best serve your clientele?

Feyisayo: Personally, what I’m doing is virtual makeup classes, not just for professionals but also for individuals. As a matter of fact, I’ve set up basic makeup training for individuals to learn the fundamentals for themselves and also walk some of my clients through different makeup steps, if they have a special occasion such as a private birthday shoot. But it’s mainly been, online makeup classes. 

I also offered free training on Whatsapp. I set up a Whatsapp group and gathered a little over 200 ladies and we had a blast. I took them through easy ways to groom and slay their brows, I made a video for them on how to achieve glossy ombre lips, and walked them how to achieve a number of other looks. 

I’ve been working on my “Top Of The Mind Awareness” where I’m trying to stay on the top of people’s minds and be the name that they remember, post-pandemic. 

Have these changes affected your brand financially and if so, how are you coping?

Feyisayo: The changes haven’t affected my brand but they have affected my business and my team. Nobody saw this coming. It was unprecedented so we thank God for the savings and investments here and there. But my business, Feyzo! Makeup Artistry is service driven. And, if you’re not working you’re not earning money. Even though I had set up a few online trainings, those weren’t doing as well as I’d hoped because everyone’s spending power is currently limited. People are being cautious, as they cannot predict where the economy is going. Luckily for me, I’ve diversified. I may not be earning money from makeup services but I’m selling products and keeping my business afloat through those sales.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge in turning one’s passion for makeup into a career?

Feyisayo: So the biggest challenge in turning one’s passion for makeup into a career is getting past yourself. You need to get past your fears of failure and the unknown. Dwelling on those fears can end up crippling you instead of pushing you to make progress. On the flip side, having fears can also be healthy if you channel that energy productively. For me, the fear of failure has been healthy because it makes me push harder.

You need to focus on surmounting your own fears because there will be naysayers along the way, who will feed your self-doubt. 

I mean, I used to work in a bank whilst doing makeup and it seemed like when I left, I was supposed to find another job. My mum surely expected this of me. My siblings kept sending me job vacancies, etc. but I was like ‘you know what I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s about time to put all of my time, passion and energy into this and turn it into a career’ and… HERE I AM. 

 

How do you see the role of a beauty professional changing post-pandemic? Especially in terms of reliance on consumers?

Feyisayo:  As a beauty professional, I believe what will make a makeup artist relevant post-pandemic will not only be passion and skill, but also EMPATHY and the wealth of knowledge MUAs have. Going forward, as an MUA, you need to be recognized as a “thought leader”, which is what will separate you from the number of other skilled artists. In addition, strengthening your relationships with clientele has become the key to success.  The 200+ women I shared my skills and knowledge with over my WhatsApp training are more likely to remember my business because I was able to make a lasting impact and laid the foundation for prospective relationships. 

 

Do you think such challenges will apply to beauty/skincare retailers as a result of the pandemic?

Feyisayo: I really don’t think that beauty and skincare retailers are going to be as affected as service providers because vanity is a drug. Through my organic skincare line KAZAI,  I found that pre-pandemic sales were really slow, I’m talking trickles, but during the pandemic, they picked up significantly.  During the lockdown, a couple of people managed to purchase products directly from me (while observing social distancing protocols) and once the lockdown eased, even more orders were placed. Based on my experience, I don’t really think that retailers are going to face the same challenges. However because inevitably prices are going up, they may need to appeal to people’s psychology of purchase

I think  I made that up but it sounds really good…*laughs* 

Yes, retailers will need to appeal to people’s spending emotions and will have to change sales tactics.

 

Are people still coming to you for makeup tips? And what sort of advice are they seeking?

Feyisayo: Every day, people ask me about makeup! People are constantly wanting to know their actual foundation shades, what their undertones are, what shade of red suits them, how to correctly use their brushes. The list is endless. And honestly, being able to guide my clients on how to achieve their desired aesthetic gives me joy. That’s the reason I do what I do. 

 

Your social media has been a huge platform to showcase your works and inspire people. What inspires your storytelling process?

Feyisayo:  Firstly, I love that you asked this question! 

When it’s not art or makeup that is tailored to a script or a project, I like to actually tell stories and if you dig down to some of my previous work, there’s a scripture tied to it.

One of my favourites till date is called BLACK GOLD and this one I actually dreamt about. I woke up and sat down with my Bible and I found a scripture that was relevant to it. It’s an artwork that speaks to the African, that you are a treasure, you are gold, you are precious and you don’t need to be anything else but your very treasured self. The art shows a crack in the black skin and there’s gold beneath it. It speaks to the youth of the African race and reminds us there’s so much more to us than the colour of our skin and that we are so much more valuable than we give ourselves credit for.

That’s basically it. It’s always very deep for me.

Also, I like to gather inspiration from what’s happening around me. I recently did a domestic violence series and it was mainly because of a meme I saw. It was about a violent couple and it made me think of people stuck in similarly toxic and abusive relationships because of the lockdown.  Doing that particular look saddened me, and I was emotional until I took off that makeup. 

 

How are you and your team working on reinstating confidence in your service and what are your short term plans for when you eventually reopen?

Feyisayo: One of the ways my team and I are working on this is by continuing to create. This ensures that our skills and knowledge don’t diminish. In addition, I’m not letting up on the online tutorials I give. 

Just to sneak this in here, the full lockdown helped me to pick up my makeup manual which I began writing many years ago so part of the things and skills I now use that I didn’t use previously, I put them down in the manual.

A makeup artist’s job functions include a lot, if not all the behaviours that we’ve been warned to discontinue, such as touching of the eyes and mouth. 

It may be a while before MUAs get back to doing what they do best but our hope is that this interview and the pearls of wisdom Feyisayo shared will prove that you can always rise above setbacks and find ways to reinvent yourself.


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By: Joan K. Vincent-Otiono