Vanessa Onwughalu is not your average 23-year-old graduate. Having acquired a B.A in Politics and International Relations, and also a Masters of Law in International Law, she went on to do some short makeup courses with the AMF Academy in the United Kingdom. Vanessa was also privileged to have worked with Josie Maran’s consulting department for about three months. After some time in the UK, she returned to Nigeria to officially launch Taos Cosmetics, a line of luxurious and affordable cosmetics.
What was the motivation behind starting Taos Cosmetics?
Taos cosmetics was born out of a pressing need to have makeup for women like me. My aim for Taos Cosmetics was to be a go-to brand of cosmetics for women of colour all around the world. I wanted the everyday woman to have a relatable brand; one that people feel some sort of connection to while using.
What are the challenges you faced in starting up your brand/company?
Taos Cosmetics first started in the UK, and I have to say it was much easier there. UK consumers are more willing to give new products/brands a chance. I believe this is because they appreciate quality more than they do brand name. After that, bringing Taos to Nigeria was a difficult transition for me. Open arms weren’t exactly waiting, and a lot of marketing had to be done for people to be aware of the product. We wanted people to get to know the quality because, at the end of the day, a brand is known for its quality.
So, what would you say really made Nigerians warm up to your brand?
Well, a lot of marketing and word of mouth advertising had been done. Also, at the point when the brand was really coming up, the strobing trend also was a thing. We had this highlighter that was amazing in quality, and that really just put Taos Cosmetics out there. Everyone was talking about ‘The Taos Glow’ and ‘Taos Hollywood’ and that was a really big thing for the brand. It didn’t stop here; our highlighter became popular in other countries as well, and that sort of made us a pioneering brand for highlighter in African countries.
What would you say the reception of Taos Cosmetics has been like as regards getting people to buy more Nigerian products?
Firstly, I believe people should buy products based on quality; whether it’s Nigerian or not. Like I said earlier, Taos Cosmetics became known for its quality. People were able to buy our products confidently because they saw the quality is great, and we happened to be a Nigerian brand. They could also see that our products are more affordable than most foreign brands with the same quality.
What is the philosophy by which your brand operates?
To remain fresh, fun, sassy and luxurious. Luxurious in the sense that we never lose sight of our number one priority – quality. In my opinion, there’s no point in being a cosmetics brand if the quality of your products can’t sell them without a lot of effort on your part. Before we release anything new, we ensure they have been tried and tested repeatedly. In the grand scheme of things, we aim to enhance everyone’s beauty.
What are your thoughts on the Nigerian beauty industry?
I’m absolutely in love with the way the Nigerian beauty industry is going. Nigerians are now believing in Nigerian brands and foreign brands are beginning to see Nigeria as an investment destination. They’re willing to bring their products here to compete on a local level.
If you could change one thing about the beauty industry, what would that be?
I think I would change the perception of the industry. I would love for Nigerian consumers to appreciate and trust Nigerian brands more. Because, when you think about it, the foreign brands they love started out just like the local brands.
What changes do you hope your brand will effect?
My goal for Taos Cosmetics is to be an internationally recognized brand that can compete internationally with foreign brands. It is my dream that we bring a new face to the Nigerian market. We want people to start to think “if Taos can do this, other Nigerian brands can do it as well”.
Source| Life guardian