She carved a niche that was non-existent and is still making giant strides in the beauty industry. Our IWD feature is on Rebecca Donkor, CEO of MakeUp Ghana.
TNBGH: Kindly tell us about yourself and your brand?
RD: My name is Rebecca Donkor. I am the founder and CEO of Makeup Ghana. Makeup Ghana was founded two years ago to serve as a social enterprise creating a unifying platform for stakeholders in the Makeup and Beauty industry in Ghana. My immense love for the makeup industry coupled with my expertise in event organizing has brought the industry various groundbreaking events like the annual Ghana Makeup Awards and the Africa Makeup and Beauty Fair among others all under the umbrella of Makeup Ghana. Today, Makeup Ghana continues to do more than just events. Makeup Ghana has extended its arms into training, Consumer education, consultancy and capacity building all with the same initial vision; to promote the makeup and Beauty industry in Ghana. Beyond Makeup Ghana, I am also the founder of The Leadership Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development(LEED), and the country coordinator for the UK based GUBA Awards.
TNBGH: What’s your inspiration for doing what you do?
RD: From day one my inspiration has been to make a change where I see necessary. This goes way beyond Makeup Ghana. From my school days in University of Ghana right to where I am today, I have always been inspired by the little smiles on the faces of people that are affected by what I do. Those moments are what I live for. The Makeup industry in Ghana has many hardworking people who have and continue to put a lot of effort in what they do. Those people needed recognition. They needed someone to say to them ayekoo. Someone to say we have been watching your progress and efforts and we appreciate you for that. That was the reason for starting the Ghana Makeup Awards. I remember at the end of the first edition, I had a short moment when I stood back at the event room and had the chance to look at all the award winners and how happy they were. How appreciated they felt for being recognized. How that one act of appreciation has motivated them and others to do more.That has always been my inspiration. Bringing the change that I saw necessary.
TNBGH: What bold steps did you take to get to where you are?
RD: Getting to where I am to today needs a lot of bold steps. In fact getting anywhere worth going takes a lot of such steps. Irrespective of your inspirations and intentions, there will always be setbacks and you need to be bold about it. I have taken a few but if there is one particular I like to talk about, I would say my decision to venture into the Makeup and Beauty industry. I was not in the industry when I started Makeup Ghana. There were a lot of things I needed to learn in a short time for me to better understand what and how I could help. It was challenging but I submitted myself to it and stood by that. But for that bold step, I doubt the industry would be where it is today, even though there is still a lot ahead. It worth mentioning that my boldness would have been nothing If I didn’t get the support of the industry players and stakeholders. They have been supportive of me and Makeup Ghana as a brand and I can’t say that enough. I really am grateful to them. It further goes to prove that together, there is a lot we can achieve.
TNBGH: If you had an opportunity to do anything differently? What would it be?
RD: There are quite a number of things I think I would rather do differently, sadly I can’t mention any but if life has taught me anything at all, it is that you can’t be too certain of the outcomes of most things. In my human capacity, I feel if I had done those things some other way, the outcome would have been different but again, the concentration is on “Maybe different”. Who is to say that I will be happy with those outcomes instead? It is important that we recognize and appreciate the things we look back and call mistakes and use them as learning steps to build ourselves. Yes, we might want to change those but in the end, it has built us into a better version of ourselves. Most often, we tend not see that aspect of it. In my field of work, you really don’t get a lot of time from circumstances to over think. You either act or you don’t at all. I always choose the former and that always comes with consequences which I appreciate. If it tends out to be the wrong decision at the end of the day, I learn from it and move quickly. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.
TNBGH: What does pressing for progress mean to you?
RD: It means a great deal to me and I am so excited about it. Although I can’t quote Barack Obama’s exact words on this, I like to share something important he always says. That it doesn’t always have to be the “Best”. Sometimes “Better” is also needed. Success in everything you do is a process. Instead of keeping your eyes on the big final destination, keep your eyes on the few little PROGRESS on the way. #PressForProgress. Most of the times the bigger final destination might discourage and scare you but if you keep your focus on the little progress you make on the way, you enjoy the journey and appreciate your own efforts. Without that, the journey always seems so long and difficult. We have to learn to celebrate the little successes we make on the journey and pay attention to those rather. After all, it is that little progress that together make up the big success we see ahead. We have to learn to #PressForProgess
TNBGH: How can women in the beauty industry press for progress?
RD: First of all, we have to concentrate on the little success moments on the journey. It makes a long journey easier. Secondly, we have to work more in collaboration. Alone, our effort may seem too little to be celebrated but as a team, we will always have much bigger little success stories to motivate ourselves with towards the bigger once ahead. Finally, we must learn to support the little progress of others. It is not only about ourselves. It has to go for others too. So if tomorrow, we wake up to hear that Evita Joseph or Colorbox Cosmetics has made a progress for her brand, we should all jump behind that and celebrate with them. Show them appreciation. That will make her feel way more appreciated.
TNBGH: How are women making a positive impact in the beauty industry?
RD: There are a lot of women and men making a lot of positive impact in the industry and it is really remarkable. One of such area is employment. Some years ago, makeup used to be a hobby for most women. To say that people actually undergo training to become full-time industry players like Makeup artist or brands is a big impact. Some years ago, that was unheard of. Even though it is not at an excessive rate, it is still progress. Another impactful area is production and supply. Some years back, the only makeup brands we knew of were the foreign ones. But today, we have Ghanaian brands like Black secret, Evita, Colorbox cosmetics etc giving us our very own Ghanaian products that we can be proud of. We really appreciate them for their hard work. Going forward, we hope to see that day where 100% of the production will be done right here in Ghana.
TNBGH: What is your advice to young ladies who are aspiring to be like you or walk down your path?
RD: I say to them #PressForProgress. That is how I got here. Back then, I wasn’t so conscious of it but looking back and at myself now, I realize that is what has seen me through the various times. Set the big scary goals but also set for yourself little immediate goals that will lead you to the bigger one and concentrate on those. Give it all you have got. Go to bed with thoughts on how to make those goals come true the next day. Also, remember you can’t do it alone. Make connections with the relevant people in your field. They will teach you a lot and help you avoid a lot of mistakes. Don’t be proud of that. You will just be wasting your own time. Also be true and honest to yourself. Don’t overburden yourself. Give yourself time to learn. Finally, have fun on the journey. Don’t look back at the end of the road and see a boring journey behind you. No!! Have fun with it. What is the point of achieving all your dreams without you enjoying the whole process?
TNBGH: What’s the greatest goal for you?
RD: My greatest goal is to see Makeup Ghana as the authoritative voice for advocating for the Makeup and beauty industry in Ghana. If in 5years, a finance minister comes to read a budget and I hear him or her say we are allocating this amount to the Makeup and Beauty industry, I will consider my job half done. If in the same time frame, someone can say that I am going to University of Ghana or KNUST to study Makeup Artistry or any industry related programme, I will consider my job almost done. I also wish to one day see a Makeup industry that is totally dependent on itself in all aspect. From manufacturing to production to management and etc.
TNBGH: Do you think the beauty industry in Ghana is a viable career path? And what is your number one advice to an amateur looking forward to being a part of this industry?
RD: I don’t only think, I believe it but I say so with a condition and that condition is the same for every other career path. You have to be serious about it and mostly go in full time and give it your all. Most people just come into the industry as a part-time venture. Yes, whiles that might be safer, you tend to miss out on a lot especially given that the industry is growing at a fast pace.
My number one advice to an amateur is to always find someone as a coach or mentor. Find someone ahead of you and learn from them. It will take you really far in a shorter time.
TNBGH: Have you ever encountered a situation where you were being limited because of your gender and how did you overcome it to be recognized for your work?
Oh yes. Well, not more of limited rather me feeling limited. There is a difference. Whiles, there are legitimate limitations that women face out there that as a nation, we all need to fight against, it is quite interesting that sometimes some of the limitations exist in our minds as women. To be honest with you, I feel a major part of fighting limitations that women face is to constantly remind ourselves that we don’t have to entertain the thought in the face place. Our entertainment the thought is mostly what create them even when there are none. That is how I have faced those most of times. I have worked with men a lot in my field and to tell you the truth, they mostly admire women who come to the table with a clear mind that there are no limitations to her. That said, sometimes there are actually genuine conscious limitations, the details of which I don’t think sharing will help us. What is worth sharing in that regard is how I overcome them. I typically evaluate the situation and meet whoever is posing the limitation head on. I usually submit what I have to offer and Standby it with an open-mindedness.