Thriving on cosmetics

BY VICTOR ADAR

When Jacque Mgido started Vault Cosmetics in Zimbabwe 10 years ago, a company that has since rebranded to now Jacque Mgido Cosmetics, there was no sign that one day a large section of the world will celebrate the brand. 

Ms Mgido took off to the United States to study, and probably be a professional film maker, but as fate would have it, her journey took an unlikely turn in St Louis, where curiosity to thrive on beauty and cosmetics business would make her land in Hollywood. 

The race to learn the cosmetics art compelled her to enrol at California based school, Make-Up Designory, and with fairly good success, she is proof that you don’t need a wealthy background to make your dreams come true. 

“I accomplished so much with so little,” she says. “The more I worked in Hollywood using Jacque Mgido brand, the more my actors and other makeup artists started requesting it. I was reluctant at first because the competition was unbelievable and extremely expensive for an indie brand (referring to an independently owned business) but we are finding our space and it’s exciting. Returns are slowly coming in.”  

As a brand that is family owned – Mgido co-runs the business with her husband –, it requires a broader scope of thinking to achieve sustained earnings. Fresh on her mind is how she pumped in a capital of $40,000 (about Sh4 million) but would suffer a major blow within the first year of operations thanks to more than $70,000 (Sh7.1 million) in losses. 

Today, she is past the challenging stage, which is usually a window of six years to one year, and has grown significantly. Within the 10 years, she says, more than $500, 000 (Sh50.04m) have been invested into the business. “This shows our growth and losses,” she points out. 

Apart from the more than 100 women she has employed in Africa, in Kenya, she has a team of two main makeup artists and whenever there are events, she is generally joined by different artists as needed. Focusing mainly on hair and make up, her true north is Africans. 

“I was lured into mainly the African market because I am African and I felt that as a brand I had the experience and I was exposed to everything that would cater to the African skin. I wanted to make a brand that relates to my African sisters and has a recognizable face that all would be able to recognize within themselves,” she explains. 

The future of brands like Jacque Mgido cosmetics is exciting. She has worked with Hollywood A-listers that include John Legend, Morris Chestnut, Denzel Washington, P Diddy, Jamie Foxx and Sylvester Stallone, and so far so good. 

In Kenya, consumers can purchase the Jacque Mgido brand at Lintons beauty supply branches. It was important to partner with a company that understood and supported an African brand among all the big international companies. Has it contributed to success? 

“It has been awesome because the Linton group has discovered my educational makeup background mainly the TV and Movie world. This has allowed us as a brand to fiercely stand out. Imagine a brand owner who lives, speaks the makeup world?” she posed. 

I was lured into the African market mainly because I am African and I felt that as a brand I had the experience and I was exposed to everything that would cater to the African skin. I wanted to make a brand that relates to my African sisters

The brand’s unique proposition to the Kenyan market is not to just sell them products they do not need but educate them about makeup and understand how to buy makeup customized for each individual so they do not feel like they are wasting a cent. The plan is to expand all over Africa, Europe and Asia. 

As technology introduces new dimensions, one can get useful online resource in a few mouse clicks. Social media too has played a big part on how people look, present themselves and this has motivated people to feel and look great. For Mgido, education of the masses might go a long way. As an example, she notes that making women understand what makeup does for their confidence, spirit and looks is something that cannot be ignored. It is all of enhancing the beauty that Africans have already. So, why is it important to keep re-inventing? 

“All this evolution gives the utmost optimism that the Jacque Mgido brand will do very well,” she says. “I will be able to significantly gain market share because the average consumer has become smart and savvy with their money. The Jacque Mgido brand is hands on and listens to the consumer closely and intently. As a brand owner that is accessible on my social media all the consumers feel like they are part of the family and we are listening therefore they get more for their bank.”

While the cosmetics entrepreneur understands how the bigger companies are having a tough time at the moment she argues that investors must get creative if they are to reach higher heights. She says: “Education is the future and this excites me because I live to educate.” 

PROFILE:
Jackie’s professional journey began in (1993) in St. Louis, Missouri. While she did not arrive in the U.S. via roller coaster, nor receive the warm welcome and steady stream of opportunities as she dreamed of as a child, she was grateful and determined to stay. She eventually moved on from St. Louis to Philadelphia where she worked as a nanny, restaurant host and maid to keep her dreams alive. 

Jackie got her first break in Washington, District of Columbia where she landed a job as an Instructice de Beaute for Clarins Cosmetics. Her experience and success at Clarins gave her the confidence to apply for a prestigious makeup school in Hollywood, California. She was accepted and, upon completion of a Master’s Program in Beauty and Special Effects, continued to hone her skills as an instructor and product developer for other makeup lines. As Jackie’s reputation in the industry grew, she slowly began building a large private clientele of Hollywood elites.

Jackie launched Vault/Jackie Mgido Cosmetics in 2012 with a simple mission and vision: “To provide woman across the globe with innovative and affordable products and services that enable them to enhance their natural (beauty and features) rather than change them.”  

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