Okpa-Francis Gift: Strong ethics and hard work lifted my makeup business – BusinessDay (satire) (press release) (registration) (blog)

Okpa-Francis Gift is the creative director of Proteus Vanity Creative and Beauty Makeover, which is in makeup business. Gift was born on October 3, 1994, but she is already worth N3 million even as a student. She studies Mass Communication at Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech) and hails from Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State. Gift spoke with ANGEL JAMES on how she started her makeup business with just N5, 000 and factors that made her a millionaire.

Tell me about your business?

My business is basically about makeup artistry. We are tasked with the responsibility of enhancing the God-given features of every client, and that is why our motto is, ‘Look beautiful, feel beautiful.’ Our specialty is beauty, bridals, editorials, creative and special effects makeover.

What motivated you to start this business?

Getting admission into a tertiary institution wasn’t a bed of roses for me. It took me four years to get one. In my anger, after my 3rd year of writing the university matriculation examination, I poured out my heart to my mentor and told him that I was tired of staying at home while my mates were in school. That day, he sat me down and advised me thoroughly and I can never forget everything he said. He spoke to me saying, ‘Education is just 25 percent of our whole well-being. As humans we have experience, character, exposure and skills.’ There and then, we spoke about my interest and then I decided that I wanted to learn makeup. I have been in the business now for three years.

How much did you start with and how much is your business worth now?

I started my business with just 5,000. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. I practiced day and night to attain where I am now. I pray tirelessly and work hard. I have made three million in three years. My business is worth a fortune!

What is the potential in this business?

In makeup, there are no rules, no boundaries and no restrictions. The fact that you can be extremely creative with it is what puzzles me. New trends spring up almost every week and that is one thing I love about makeup. I would describe myself as a bird, free and without any boundaries. I do not conform to a particular style of makeup; I do both usual and creative makeovers and what sets me apart is my ability to think outside the box, think the unusual, and bring it to life. So you see, the potential is endless and cannot be contained

Have you been approached by any investor?

Yes, I have been approached by some investors. I won’t say anything yet until it materialises, Just watch out for Proteus Vanity .We are going to be one of the foremost makeup brands pretty soon!

Makeup artistry is my passion. I didn’t choose it, it chose me, and I have indeed gained a lot during the course of my journey. I have learnt how to address clients, the act of hospitality, that is, making clients feel comfortable around me. Work ethics,  which is of paramount importance, has helped me, and, most of all, being business minded is key for me. I have worked on a lot of projects only to mention but a few. I have been part of the Team of Makeup Artists for MTN Project Fame West Africa for the past 3years, part of the team of Makeup Artists for Kaffy and her DancersLove like a MovieHeadies, and Rhythm Unplugged. I have been part of Put a Ring on it by Charles Novia (movie)Excess Luggage by Ik Ogbonna and Grace Godwin (movie)The Check Point by Lydia Idakula Shobogun (short film), and Single in Gidi Stage Play, among others.

 What are your long-term plans?

Future plan, in one word, is expansion. I want to get proper publicity and more contracts too and also, I want to own a studio so that I can pass my knowledge to the younger generation.

How do you combine studies and business?

Trust me, it is not a bed of roses at all. There are times when I have to skip lectures and tests for one shoot or the other, but at a point, I had to find a mid-point so that both school and business don’t suffer. So far it’s been an amazing journey. I thank God.

What have been your challenges?

It is a fact that there are a lot of makeup artists in this generation and the challenge is getting publicity and a good client base.

What can you say to young people who have nothing doing?

Acquiring a skill is of great importance if you want to survive. You cannot depend on what you studied in the four walls of the tertiary institution, because what rules the world and Nigeria in particular is ‘survival of the fittest’. To get a white collar job is not a bed of roses. Acquire a skill today and you will have nothing to regret.