Rebecca Donkor is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director,Makeup Ghana.
Rebecca has succeeded in empowering young ladies in the tertiary institutions with the Ladies in Prestige and Purpose (LIPP) and Leadership Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development (LEED). ’ initiative that makes them financially independent, improves their self esteem while building their marketing and entrepreneurial skills
She has received several awards for her contribution to the industry and active role in empowerment, including the under 40 CEO awards in Ghana.
I recently caught up with the budding entrepreneur in Accra, and had a brief chat with her where she recounted her journey and also shared some entrepreneurial tips.
Who is Rebecca Donkor?
Miss Rebecca Donkor is the CEO of Makeup Ghana, a social enterprise creating a unifying platform for stakeholders in the makeup and beauty industry in Ghana.
Beyond my love for the makeup industry, I am a strong believer in the African youth as a force for transformation on the continent. I live this belief by being a positive role model for the youth and by creating innovative action-driven channels of change through my initiatives, Ladies in Prestige and Purpose (LIPP) and Leadership Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development (LEED).
I am a holder of an MBA in Marketing from the University of Ghana, where I also obtained a first degree in Psychology with Linguistics.
What excites you about being the CEO and Founder of Makeup Ghana?
Making a difference and enforcing positive change. In 2015 when Makeup Ghana decided to organize the first ever makeup industry awards in Ghana, our focus was on bringing a positive change to the industry, by appreciating its players.
It went even further to encourage healthy competition in the industry which continues to grow the industry further. The story is no different for all of our activities at Makeup Ghana.
What was your reason for establishing the company?
The makeup industry is growing at a very fast pace in Ghana but there was no unifying voice or platform for it. This was the main reason for starting Makeup Ghana; to give the industry a unifying and empowering voice.
Today, we have made considerable progress with the immense help of all the players in the industry but there is always more that can be done and that is exactly what we are focused on doing.
How did you finance your start-up?
We have been lucky to have started with very supportive industry players. Strategic industry partnerships made the journey possible and financing was and continues to be a key part of their support.
However, we also had to use personal financing for a significant portion of our activities.
We are constantly seeking more strategic partnerships and believe some aspects of our activities would benefit from more public sector support, especially in the area of training and capacity building.
What is Makeup Ghana all about?
The goal of Makeup Ghana is to bring together all the stakeholders to project a single, powerful voice to empower the makeup industry. This, we continue to achieve through advocacy and consumer education; showcasing talent and innovation within the industry; training and professional development of practitioners and artists; fostering best practices and standards in the industry, all aimed at being catalysts for growth and inspiring excellence within the industry.
How have you kept your business in a competitive industry since you started?
We have ensured our relevance by being different, that is focusing on making an impact as our core goal. At the core of all our activities, we ensure there is an actual impact that can accrue to the industry. The principle is simple: Give more than we take from the industry. Doing so, we first of all give more to the industry than we take.
This approach which has made us an integral part of the makeup industry, part of the family so to speak, is what makes Makeup Ghana unique.
What is your goal as an entrepreneur and what do you look to achieve in the makeup industry?
As an entrepreneur, my goal has always been to engage in ventures that will enable me to bring a change to an aspect of society. Money has never been the primary goal. I believe once you make an impact in society, the money will follow naturally.
The best way to bring any change in your life is to first bring change in the lives of others. In ten years, if I have taken more from society than I have given back, I will consider myself a failed entrepreneur.
For Makeup Ghana, I look to achieve a stronger unifying platform for the Makeup industry in Africa but first in Ghana. A self-sustained industry across all aspects including production of its products, good working standards and financing.
Long term, I wish to see Makeup Ghana as the major stakeholder in enabling the African Makeup Industry become independent and competing effectively at greater scale worldwide.
You have been recognized for your contributions and most recently you won the Lifestyle and beauty Award in the first edition of the Forty under 40 Awards in Ghana, what does this mean for you?
It means a great deal to me not for the award in itself but for the fact that I was nominated by a mentee. For me, this a clear evidence that my work to make impact on society is bearing fruits. As I receive that award, I felt a sense of fulfillment and that is what it has always been about for me.
For Makeup Ghana, it means that we are on the right path. We put so much into our events and projects for the industry and this appreciation tells us that we should not relent on our efforts. It is even more inspiring coming from an independent observer like the Forty under 40 awards organizers.
You’ve successfully handled various projects, such as organizing training for makeup artistes, the Makeup Awards amongst others, where do you get the inspiration from?
Making a difference in an impactful way. This has been what has forced me to jump over all hurdles that I face. The day we stop inspiring to make impact in our small corners is the day humanity loses its sense of purpose.
Let’s talk about the Makeup Awards, what was your reason for establishing it?
Two years ago, at an award event, I asked myself what I was doing to appreciate the effort of the players of the makeup industry. Musicians, film stars, footballers and many more have awards for appreciation. Beyond appreciation, these awards serve as a way of promoting healthy competition in the industry which propels them forward. That was my reason for organizing the Makeup Awards.
Have Ghanaians accepted the Awards?
At the onset there were concerns that Ghanaians and as a matter of fact, players of the industry might not be ready for something of this nature.
Interestingly it was partly true but that never stopped us. We doubled our efforts and tripled publicity and it paid off. It was hugely accepted and successful beyond our wildest anticipations and we indeed are grateful and proud of Ghanaians and industry players for their response.
The second edition comes off next year and they should expect something bigger.
As one of the most creative and prominent beauty entrepreneurs of today, you are renowned for your inventive makeup and beauty looks, what beauty secret can you share with our readers?
First of all thank you for the compliments. There are a lot of secrets and I certainly cannot share even a fraction in this space and time.
It is for this reason we are creating a consumer brand which will include content providing secret techniques, how-to guides and tips from experts and other consumers all across Africa. This is close to a launch and your readers should wait for this in anticipation.
As an expert in the industry, what is your honest opinion about the industry, what is it still lacking and how can it be improved?
While there is still more room for improvement, I believe the industry is doing quite well currently. What it lacks most is government support.
There are a lot of Ghanaian brands and entities that contribute a lot in the form of taxes to the national revenue base and as such support from government will be a step in the right direction. I believe government can use the industry as a key platform for fighting national problems like unemployment.
Moving forward, I hope that we see more support from government.
How lucrative is beauty business in Ghana?
The industry can be very lucrative if you know what are doing. In makeup, just like every business sector, you need to have a complete knowledge to succeed. Participating half way or as a part time venture, produces half way results.
As I mentioned earlier, I have taken an approach of making social impact first, with financial goals as secondary.
However, the industry is growing so fast and has so many unexplored opportunities, that we believe even social enterprise players such as ourselves, with the right attitude and execution can benefit significantly from the industry.
The industry is ready for big breakthroughs, especially for female entrepreneurs.
What has been your biggest mistake as an entrepreneur, and what you learnt from it?
As an entrepreneur I have had my fair share of mistakes. One I can speak to is around Makeup Ghana.
I believe I underestimated the level of competition for even a social enterprise within the space. My assumption was we would be far and away the best player with no real competition which turned out to be a false premise.
The silver lining is that competition fostered innovation and it also reminded me of my personal life principle for success. Collaborate if you can, instead of unnecessary competition. This is especially true for social enterprises since our goals are the same, growth and excellence within the makeup industry.
Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment?
There are a lot of exciting moments, because it is always that moment when something myself and the team had planned and worked on for so long, finally comes to reality.
Event days however bring my most exciting days. When I see people arriving, people networking, people talking, people selling; those moments are the magic moments. They mean everything to me.
No matter the pressure on me, I take some time to soak it in and enjoy those beautiful moments.
Tell us about your everyday life
In my field of work, it is difficult to have a fixed routine but there are some activities in my day that recur.
I am an early bird; I like to wake up early. So right out of bed, I pray, then I like to take a glass of warm water with lemon. I then wait for 20 to 30 minutes (Checking my emails and messages) and then go for a walk (Not always, depending on my schedule). I follow up with a shower once I arrive back home and then breakfast next (Try to get my to do list ready during that) and then I step out. Once out, it is usually meetings either at the office or in town. The details of which I rather not bore you with. On a normal day, I arrive home roughly around 8pm and go to bed around 9.30pm to 10pm.
Let’s go back on your journey, how you grew up and started?
I grew up in a regular home. I was born and raised in Accra. Right from childhood, I knew I would be working for myself. It became quite clear in my days in University of Ghana. My entrepreneurial ventures like Nouveau face haus and The Leadership Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development (LEED) started from my days in school. That is how it all started for me and it has been an interested journey so far.
Let’s talk about some other people that have been your role model over the years
God: From day one my number one role model has been my God. I look up to him for everything. His word says nothing is impossible for him and that’s how I approach every situation. I don’t start without telling Him about it. When stuck, He is the one I talk to and He has never failed.
Uche Pedro: Not long ago, I discovered this amazing woman who has achieved so much and I have been looking up to her since. Uche Pedro, Founder of Bellanaija. From “Bellanaija Weddings” to “BellanaijaBeauty” through to “Bellanaija Style” she has proven that a woman can be anything she wants to with the right attitude.
What does your business, Makeup Ghana mean to you especially in Ghana where things are tough?
First of all, I think that things are tough everywhere but it all comes down to your decisions around the opportunities that come your way.
To me, anytime I take a second look at Makeup Ghana, how it started and what we have managed to achieved in this short period, it represents how much anyone can achieve if you have the right attitude and perseverance. It is a source of strength and motivation as well as a source of encouragement. Our achievements in only two years tells me we can achieve much more in years to come if we do not quit and we give it our all.
Would you say that the challenges we have in Ghana is an excuse for a young person not to succeed?
No I do not. As I said before, I think that things are tough everywhere, success or failure depends on the decisions we take about opportunities.
Ghana is a developing country and that means there is opportunity in every sector and sphere of business which is unexplored or under developed.
To any young person out there, you should know that what is important is to find what you love doing and put all your efforts into it. Read about it, build connections around it, nurture it, develop it and give it your all.
Are you a socialite?
I will say yes and no at the same time. No, I don’t live a glamorous lifestyle. I keep it down to earth and try to be as simple as possible. Yes, in the sense that I like to attend social events but I am a bit selective when it comes to that and that is very important.
It is not every social activity that should get your attention. You need to surround yourself with people relevant to your field of work so you don’t miss on any opportunities.
What is your view about fashion and how do you describe fashion?
Now that’s an interesting question. I don’t really know how to address that but I will try. So in my view fashion is a very important part of our lifestyle as Ghanaians. You can’t take it out. As a person, how I look is very important to me and I think it should be so for everyone. It is usually the first impression that counts most. But of course there is subjectivity in the “How you look” part as what might seem good to me might not seem good to you. In that regard I believe that fashion should be more about what you wear that makes you feel good about yourself. That said, it is also important that we remember that first of all we are Africans and that comes with its own style which we must respect. That aside fashion must also be respective to where we are going and what the event is about. You don’t go to an event that states that we want dress code to be a touch African style with sometime other than that because “That is what makes you feel good”. I believe that as a person, once you consider what you stand for and take into account your background and the particular occasion of event or place you are attending, figuring out your fashion style shouldn’t be difficult. Of course there is the issue of affordability too which you should consider. Don’t go buying things out of your means just to “make you look good”. That is just wrong and childish.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5years?
There is still a lot ahead for us at Makeup Ghana. Five years from now, I want to see Makeup Ghana become the preeminent authority on all things makeup in Ghana and beyond.
I want to make Makeup Ghana the main voice for the industry, the best in professional development of makeup artists and beauticians and the main authority for awarding and recognizing their hard work.
Now, Personally, in five years from now, I see myself at an even greater height of achievement and hopefully my influence would have moved beyond the makeup and beauty industry. My most important wish is to see Makeup Ghana become a source of encouragement for young entrepreneurs, especially women, to fight for their dreams and passions.
As a mentor to makeup artists and small business owners what is the most important advice do always give out?
Stand for something. Pick something you love and work hard towards it and leave your mark. That is how you stand for something. Is it makeup that you want to do? Good! Now, give it your all. Make it your dream. Write it down. Work towards it so that when the word makeup artist is mentioned in your area of work, your name is also mentioned.
You don’t have to be able to do everything to be successful. It is a lot of stress and you leave little or no mark. If even you want to do a lot of things, take each one at a time. It is difficult to name someone who is a somewhat good with almost everything but it is easier to mention someone who is very good with a specific thing.
Lastly, what is your expert beauty routine?
Well, I drink warm water with lemon every morning. I also usually clean my face twice in day with a cleanser; morning and evening. That’s important to me as it removes skin pollutants naturally attracted by the skin. It keeps my skin pores clean and my skin fresh. I also use a toner morning and evening to get rid of any excess oil and makeup that the cleanser might have missed. I also do exfoliate twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells.
Exfoliation helps people with black hairs, acne, break outs etc. I finally moisturize to keep my skin hydrated. As far as beauty routine goes, there a lot of ways to go about it depending on your skin type and having the right knowledge about it.
Thank you for your time