2023 Beauty and Makeup Category Winner: Akinselure Oluwatoni

  • What inspired you to embark on your entrepreneurial journey, and how has that initial spark evolved?

I have always believed myself to be entrepreneurial right from my primary school days. I remember selling stationery, snacks, and other little things to my classmates. I just knew how to identify the needs of people around me and meet them at a reasonable price.

Fast forward to some years later, I took an interest in makeup, not even to commercialize it. I just liked makeup. So, I would practice on my face and my friends’ faces. In secondary school, whenever we had extracurricular events, I would get them ready for free.

As time went on, I noticed that I was getting better at makeup and people also appreciated my skills. I then thought to myself, how about I turn this into a business? At that time, makeup artistry was gaining popularity and so I started Glam by Toni some years after that.

It has been an exciting journey, transitioning from doing makeup casually and leisurely to now being an actual registered business. I also believe that the “entrepreneurial spark” that I have will still lead me to many other endeavors because apart from Glam by Toni, I also run a ready-to-wear fashion brand.

  • In what ways has your business made a tangible impact on your community, and what changes do you envision it bringing in the future?

One thing I believe my business has done is redefine the art of makeup and generally change the narrative around it. Many clients I’ve worked with have had bad experiences with makeup in the past, where they were not satisfied with the services that they received. So in times past, when people hear makeup, what comes to their mind is your face looking lighter than your neck, altered skin tones, skin reactions, and all these things around it.

I’ve been able to change the mindset of my clients by using carefully sourced products. We focus on the type of products that we use and also promote the Nigerian beauty market. Many people used to and still spend so much money buying expensive makeup products from international brands when we have good quality and affordable Nigerian-owned beauty brands. Through my business, I’ve been able to turn the attention of my clients to these Nigerian brands and help them see that these products are unique.

So in summary, I’ll say that my business is committed to helping people regain trust in makeup artistry and also the Nigerian beauty market.

  • How do you stay motivated during challenging times, and what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs facing similar obstacles?

Maintaining a positive mindset has helped me through difficult times as an entrepreneur. This mindset entails understanding that some days will be tougher than others and nonetheless, you still have to show up and put in your best at work.

For me, I have decided to treat my business like a 9-5, because if you work a 9-5, you don’t go to work only when you feel like it, you show up every day. So, I feel many entrepreneurs have to treat their business(es) that way too, and put themselves out there.

For Makeup Artists, you’re going to have to put out content so that people see what you can do. Social media is going to be your best friend. You’re going to push and be resilient through all of the tough times.

Another thing I’ll say is to stay focused and master consistency. Believe in your craft because if you don’t, it will show in how you handle it. Because on the days when you’re not getting as much sales as you expect, there’s going to be this self-disqualification. But if you believe that you’re good at what you do, you will maintain a level of focus and commitment.

Lastly, trust God. After putting in a lot of effort to run a business, also trust God to grant you favor and bring you the increase that you desire.  

  • What pivotal lessons have you learned along your journey, and how have they contributed to the growth of your business and personal development?

One important lesson I’ve learned while doing business is to believe in yourself. Many times, people can see through your confidence, whether or not you see the value in your business and they are going to treat you in that corresponding order. So if you believe that you’re great at what you do, it’s going to show.

So one thing I’ve learned that shaped the way I treat my business is to reinforce my belief in myself, my craft, and the work that I do, that I’m great and unique.

Another thing I’ve learned is the power of community and collaboration. Many people in business see themselves as competitors. When they look at other people offering the same service(s), they tend to see them as rivals. I believe we grow in community and having like-minded people surround you will help you make progress because you can learn from them and vice versa.

  • What aspects of your business do you feel reflect your unique vision and set you apart in your industry?

The makeup industry is full of many talents. Everyone is doing different things and also great at what they do. Many people often say that it’s an oversaturated industry, which I believe to be true. However, one thing that has set Glam by Toni apart in this large market is my impeccable skin match ability and good clientele relationships.

Before I started to take an interest in makeup, I generally had reservations about the makeup industry because everyone just looked different when they had makeup on. And I understand that makeup intends that you look different from your usual self, so you’re not going to spend money to look the same. So, while makeup is going to change how you look, I did not like the fact that it eventually altered many people’s facial features. Like when they take off their makeup, they don’t have any brows left and other things like that.  I quite did not like about the industry.

So going into the makeup field, one thing I told myself was that I was going to do things differently; I was not going to do the things that I had reservations about. Glam by Toni focuses on skin work. When you get a session with me, you’re not going to look different from yourself. Your skin tone, skin match, and brows are intact. I pay attention to details. I also make use of carefully sourced products so that clients don’t break out or look botched when they go under the sun.

All these have helped me and set me apart in my industry.

  • How has the 25under25 Award impacted your business and personal growth?

As a small business owner, there’s just this thing of doing your thing in one corner; being in your lane, getting clients, and focusing on your skills. But being pulled out of that corner where you feel unseen and given an award by SME100 Africa is a big deal. It helped me see that many people who you do not think pay attention to your craft do pay attention. It’s amazing, that’s just what I can say.

I’d say it has reinforced my commitment and my drive for excellence and even dream bigger for the future. It has also helped me become part of an amazing community of like-minded business owners and many people who are committed to making Nigeria and Africa great.

  • Can you share any memorable milestones or breakthrough moments that reinforced your commitment to your entrepreneurial path?

First of all, I will say that it has to be me meeting people and seeing how much faith they have in me and the work that I do. It’s very encouraging and priceless, especially seeing people who are not interested in makeup or have had bad experiences with makeup get a session with Glam by Toni, change their mindset, trust me, and even look forward to another session. It has helped me hope higher and also reinforced my commitment to my entrepreneurial path.

Another very memorable milestone I should also say is getting recognized by SME100 Africa and awarded for my impact on the Beauty and Makeup industry in Nigeria is a big deal. More than anything else, it has helped me see that I’m doing amazing and helped me set stronger goals for my business.

  • Looking ahead, what are your future aspirations for your business, and what legacy do you hope to leave for the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs?

So, when I run my mind through the past 5 years that I’ve run Glam by Toni, I’ve seen the business grow progressively from scratch, and become a business that is recognized by Africa. That’s a big deal. And I think that the future is even brighter considering the platforms that I have now and the experience and knowledge I’ve been able to garner.

Glam by Toni is certainly going to become a household name and is going to be something that Nigeria and even Africa will be proud of.

For the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, the legacy I would leave is to change the mindset of being too young to achieve anything. Age is never a limitation. You can dream as a young person, start and grow a business, and be recognized globally. You also have the privilege to learn from mistakes you might make on your journey. So dare to dream and put the best into your craft.

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