He makes the ladies beautiful, literarily painting faces for a living! That’s Kilo Francis Abiola, one enterprising young Nigerian who decided to be his own boss instead of wallow in unemployment. I’ve known Kilo for some time now, right from the time he set out to conquer the Lagos makeup scene up until now that his startup employs others. He turned his passion for beauty into a business, and that is a success story that needs to be told. So I had a chat with the young man to discuss makeup, fashion and business. I can only hope that you enjoy this and be inspired to also turn your own passion into an enterprise especially during these difficult economic times.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Nice to meet you, Francis. Now do tell; how did you get your start in the makeup business?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Nice to meet you too Emmanuel. I’ve been reading your blog loyally for sometime now by the way. The thing is I never really planned to be a makeup artist. So I wouldn’t even recall how I started the business. It’s something I suddenly found myself doing and as the days got by, it became bigger and better.
EMMANUEL BENSON: So it’s more like a good story of passion turned into venture; yes?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Absolutely.
EMMANUEL BENSON: So what has been your experience in the craft so far?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : It’s been a ride with humps and free way… Just like any other occupation. It’s been majorly fulfilling for me and I’m not regretting making this choice. It’s even more beautiful as I am male in the beauty industry.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Exactly the next question for you- what is it like being a male in a female-dominated field like the makeup industry; do you encounter either special challenges or special privileges?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Special challenges are- 1. trying to break into the beauty industry as a male makeup artist. 2. the mockery starts when question like “do you have a girlfriend?” is asked constantly. It makes one uncomfortable being a starter. But as times goes on one gets used to it.
EMMANUEL BENSON: I learnt male beauty experts get lucky and often have more clients because the clients (who are mostly females of course ) are fascinated by them. Any truth to that?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : As for privilege for male makeup artists, the respect escalates after one has made a name for [themselves]. And this respect is mostly from people who have either patronized you or heard about you. So it makes it easier to market one’s craft being male. A lot of women find male makeup artists amusing too so they always want to patronize them believing the males in the beauty industry are perfectionists. So yes! Very correct…
EMMANUEL BENSON: Okay. So is the beauty industry in Nigeria booming at the moment?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Absolutely! Its good way to be self-empowered and not have to wait for a white collar job before paying basic bills.
EMMANUEL BENSON: So then you are making all the money in Lagos or nah?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Lol! If I’m making “all the money in Lagos” i probably will have my own fuel station by now and won’t need to go queue to buy petrol.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Lol. That’s right. But you’re certainly making money; no?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : If getting paid after doing my job is what you call “making money”, then yes I am.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Good. Would you ever consider doing something else?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Oh yes. i intend to switch to TV soon.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Really? As a presenter or what?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Yes…
EMMANUEL BENSON: Well then congratulations in advance. I guess there is really no need to put that International Relations degree of yours into foreign policy use of any sorts then…Lol
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Absolutely not. But for the records at least, i went to school. Lol
EMMANUEL BENSON: That’s right. So, your clients seem to be mostly high-society ladies. Are you even affordable to the average Nigerian woman?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : I have a budget package for every woman. Anyone contacting me can be rest-assured they will look beautiful with a budget-friendly package.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Budgets! It seems to be quite organized. Do you do all the jobs alone or have you assistants?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : I have assistants. Bookings gets over the top crazy sometime and I can’t do every client myself.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Just for the records, how long have you been in the profession?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: 4 years.
EMMANUEL BENSON : You have grown quite well in the craft. Congrats. But do you get to be a part of film projects or do you do mainly everyday facial beautification?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : For now just bridal and party guests makeup and of course photo/video shoots. I hope to go into film makeup in the nearest future.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Do you have anybody you look up to for inspiration?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Honestly no one! I’m my own inspiration.
EMMANUEL BENSON: I mean like other beauty experts… House of Tara madam for instance. No one at all?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : None at all.
EMMANUEL BENSON: Okay then. What is your assessment of the fashion industry in Nigeria?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : It’s been major source of employment for many. It has grown from a little baby to a grown woman and birthing means of livelihood to both old and young Nigerians. It’s amazing how one can live comfortably with just making people look super pretty for their events. So in all, I say the fashion industry right now is rewarding.
EMMANUEL BENSON: That’s correct. But what are some of the things you’d rather see done differently?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Well, not too much though. It’s just that some muas are abusing the makeup artistry. I see overly made-up faces and I don’t get why there should be tons of makeup on one face. I’d really like to see face look sultry and not hideous!
EMMANUEL BENSON: Like masquerades right? I’ve seen such faces too; trust me
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA : Lol, you bet! (Laughter)
EMMANUEL BENSON: Well it’s been nice having this chat. Any last words you’d like to add?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Thanks a lot. Having this chat is refreshing. Thank you again.
EMMANUEL BENSON: You’re welcome. Would you mind leaving your contact details so that prospective clients in Lagos may contact you easily?
KILO FRANCIS ABIOLA: Oh sure thanks. Instagram ID is make_upbykilo and contact number is 08033112726.