WITH her very fair, clear skin and without makeup, she’s fascinating. Olori Sandra Thomas, a beautician tells Sunday Sun in this interview she was not born with it but worked hard to achieve it. She noted that sticking with one particular body cream and soap over a period of time gave her that radiant complexion and advises women to avoid bleaching.
People think you’re a skin expert, can you tell us the secret?
I’m not a dermatologist, I’m a beautician. I specialize on black women’s skin and I have a presence in every state because of my clients. I do skin care assessment and it’s my major selling point in business. Even if you don’t use what I sell and you consult me, I would tell you if the product you use is good for you. I assess your skin before I recommend a product for you. It’s not just about selling my products. I’m a Makari representative in Nigeria and I have been doing this for nine years. The store is five years old in Nigeria. I have been doing this business from South Africa since nine years ago. Coming back home, I decided to open stores in Nigeria as well and it’s been great.
Could you tell us a little more about your relationship with Makari?
I’m a representative and I distribute directly from them. I import their product lines from New York and I don’t just distribute, I have one-to-one relationships with my clients. I trained to become a beautician. It’s not about you going to the store and buying the product and you get home and it’s unsuitable for your skin type or your skin tone or it doesn’t address your problem. If you pick products that are unsuitable for your skin, you add to your problems. We have some clients that doctors recommend Makari for and when they come with their doctor’s prescription we ask, which one the doctor asked them to buy. Some of our products are medicinal and you don’t just pick anything for your body otherwise it would turn the other way round.
What do you actually do?
I trained as a beautician in South Africa. I do eyelashes, nails, and spa treatments. I do just everything about beauty. I had my studio in Cape Town, South Africa but when I came back to Nigeria, taking care of the family and running the business wasn’t easy but I would go back someday. I love to do lashes, though I’m not into nails anymore. I interact with people and get their problems solved and what I’m doing right now is just perfect.
At what point did you become an olori?
Well, my husband is a prince born in Lagos. He is from Balogun Thomas family in Lagos. Someday, he will be a king and I’m his queen. I call him oba-in-waiting.
Do you remember some memorable moments while growing up?
I grew up in Ibadan in my grandfather’s house. He was a reverend, so I grew up in the vicarage. We’re Anglican and I converted my husband into Anglican. Today, he calls himself an Anglican. I’m a secretary by profession and I trained at Speedwriting International College an affiliate of Speedwriting Institute London. When I left Nigeria, I delved into business because I couldn’t continue with my 8am-5pm-work routine anymore with my little children. I thought of something else to do that would give me time for my family and that was how I became a beautician.
As a young lady, what were your dreams?
I actually wanted to be a PA with a giant company, because my aunt was a secretary with Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State in those days and she was really good. I admired her as she went to work elegantly dressed and I told myself I would become a secretary like her. I just wanted exposure, I wanted to relate with people.
What has life taught you?
Life has taught me to take one day at a time. Wherever you are today, whatever you are today, it’s not by your might. I have learnt that whatever you know how to do, do it well. If it’s worth doing, do it well but if you know it’s not worth doing, don’t bother.
So how and where did you meet your husband?
I met him here in Lagos through a friend and as I was looking for a job after graduating from secretarial school. He was working for Schlumberger then and I gave him my CV and he promised to get me a job and here we are today. He never got me a job but he got me a better life and we are blessed with lovely children.
What’s your assessment of beauticians in Nigeria?
The business has picked up in the past 10 years. It wasn’t this lucrative when I left Nigeria. Now everybody is beauty-conscious and wants to look beautiful. They want to take care of their skin. Women have realized that even if they have money to buy 20 clothes and their skin is not beautiful they have not started. These days, women now invest more in skin care. It’s really great.
Tell us about your journey into being a skin beautician?
I wanted a cream I could use that doesn’t contain hydroquinone and I Googled it. The name Makari popped-up. That was how I discovered it. Nobody told me about the product. I took that name to my doctor in Houston, Texas and requested to change my cream. He told me to bring one sample and that he would check it. That time they only had about 3 or 4 product lines. I bought the lotion and soap. My doctor ran a test on them and a week later, he told me that they’re free from hydroquinone. It was after a year of using the lotion and soap that people started asking me what I was doing to my skin. When I went to the mall people asked me what I was doing to my skin. I didn’t know skin care products had such impacts and influence on people like that. People told me I’m glowing and I told them the name of my cream and I started selling it. When I was moving back to Nigeria, the manufacturer suggested I start distributing in Nigeria and I was licensed to do so. I want to give Senator Florence Ita-Giwa the credit for bringing Makari products to Nigeria. She started it. When I wanted to become their representative, they told me that she was the first person to launch it in Nigeria. I think she laid the foundation for younger ones like us to follow. It’s her footprints that I’m following, so I respect her for that.
What’s fashionable to you?
I like to look good. People think I’m fashionable, I don’t think I am, I just like to look good. I like to wear what suits me and when I stand before the mirror and I look good, I’m okay. I don’t step out without looking at the mirror and it has to be perfect. Fashion to me is evolving and I just roll with it. I like changing my wardrobe often.
What about makeup for you?
I’m not into makeup. I allow my skin to breathe. When you are in this kind of profession and you pile makeup on your face everyday then you have something to hide. If a beautician wears makeup everyday you need to question the authenticity of the products she uses. You should not use makeup to conceal your identity. I don’t wear makeup everyday. I wear my makeup to parties or on weekends not everyday. When people see me at parties and say I look good, it’s not my makeup that looks good, it’s my skin. It’s my skin that brought out the makeup. Makeup is the least on my budget, because my skin is okay to bring out the beauty of the clothes I’m wearing.