She was working with Unipetrol over thirty years ago. Every Friday night, she hops on the plane to New York to purchase beauty products, comes back Sunday morning to resume work the following day.
This she does for several years. Mrs. Kudirat Fashola , CEO of Kuddy Cosmetics has proven that there’s reward in hard work. With her small beauty shop located on the Island in 1986 she now has 17 shops scattered in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abeokuta with over 80 staff. During the week she literally pulled all Lagos beautiful ladies, makeup artists, beauty bloggers, and fashion forward women to Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island for the rebrand of Black Opal . Very unassuming and simple dressed in a black top and pants she told Effects the reasons for the beautiful evening and went down memory lane about her journey into beauty products, challenges, her lifestyle and lots more.
You had a nice job, Unipetrol and you resigned to open a shop on the Island. What was people’s perception about that?
I’m from an enterprising family. My entire family is into business. My father was the life president for stock fish importers in Nigeria. They already knew that none of us can work for too long. My mother has the biggest medicine store in Balogun and after school we were always there to help her out. I started business at the age of 9. I started selling without my parents knowing. I always have this idea of making more money. I went as far as selling oranges but I never made money from it. But I was not discouraged. I tried selling coconut too as a child. I have always loved to double whatever money I have as a child. Later in life, I got a very small store. My mother has the biggest store in Balogun market and wanted me to have a bigger store but I refused. I started from there. I have a shop but I don’t stay there because I’m always on every flight to New York. And every flight coming to Nigeria I’m always on that flight bringing in beauty products . The flight that will take me down is the one that will bring me back. I don’t have a sales representative. I started business with Macys in New York where I buy fashion fair products. Once I arrived, customers were already waiting. I don’t think we are two doing that business then. I continued like that until the business got bigger and bigger. We started buying brand names from the beginning and this we are still doing.
What are the secrets of your success in business?
God, without Him, it’s impossible. You start with Him, you continue with Him and you end with Him. Do not despise your humble beginning. I have seen so many challenges; staff, a lot of things but especially with staff. I’m too open to them and I keep telling them I cannot stop praying for them. I pray for all my staff, lifting them up in prayers. I tell them if I’m doing this for you, you know what the bible says? I’m heaping a coal of fire on your head, so they should make sure what they are doing is right to get the reward of the blessing. If , God will turn it around to a curse. A lot of the staff are not very faithful but with God you forge ahead. Once you have God on your side, nothing can intimidate you or pull you down. If you are standing straight with God, you will be like a rock. You will be difficult to pull down. God has been faithful from the beginning, without him I can’t do it.
You had your 60th birthday three weeks ago, what are the secrets of your youthful looks?
My father died 94 years old and he was looking very young. Do a lot of spiritual exercise; a lot of waiting. (Fasting) I do that a lot. I believe that in this business if you are not pursuing something, something must be pursuing you. Once you know that you are on top, you don’t want to come down. Once you are on top, you have to come closer to your God. I don’t want to run all over the place. I already know the truth is in the bible. When I can find my God is right now, not until when things get bad then you go helter skelter. My name Kuddy means the power of Almighty God. That name alone is like a defensive weapon. Who can contend with the power of God? So, that name will remain Kuddy forever.
What lessons have you learnt about life?
Don’t give up doing good. Don’t expect anything back from anyone. My father said something a week before he died. He said ‘Kuddy, peradventure anyone comes to you and they have hurt you one way or the other, please forgive them and don’t ever hold on to whatever you have in your hand that you know somebody is in need of and don’t think evil of anyone.’ That was coming from him a week before he died. There’s nothing I can’t give out except I don’t have it. If I don’t have it, it’s a lot of trouble for me. You cannot satisfy all but I make sure that no one comes to me and go back the same. I have helped so many clients. Some get something from it, and majority of them were able to say God has used me to build them up in business. Many people have built houses, especially those from the East, and from the North. Some ran away after helping them and some came back to say thank you. This is how far I have gone in business. What I tell them now is , anytime you ask me for favour and I did it for you, don’t run away because you are going to hurt yourself. If I give out what God has given to me to assist you please don’t try to hurt me.
What is the essence of this beautiful gathering?
Over thirty years, Black Opal is more or else a household name. There are Makeup and powder everywhere. Black Opal is still the same but a slight difference in spelling of BLK/OPL. It is simply an evening of Rebranding Black Opal . For you to have people copy your product it’s because you are doing well. The product is good before now but it’s getting better. I have been with this company since year 1996 till date. I have been a loyal customer to them. I don’t use makeup before but all of a sudden something happened along the way . I just make sure everybody looks beautiful around me. It’s encouraging when customers come in and say, Madam Kuddy, you make me look good, you make me look younger, you make me look fresh. I went to the company and tell them the way I want the product for Nigeria. I know the theme, colour and what our women need to stand out in any occasion.
What advice do you have for women who want to be like Madam Kuddy?
Nobody should be like Madam Kuddy. Everyone should aim to be better. Even my children, I pray that they are greater and more popular than myself. Everyone out there should believe in themselves and have hope. They should remain focussed and prayerful. Prayer is the key. There is no door that prayers cannot open. When you are doing the right thing you get good result. Sometimes you do nice things and it seems it’s not working, don’t give up. I have been through so many things in my life. I have helped so many people but it seems like the more I help them the more attack I get. Still, I don’t get discouraged.
You look so simple, what’s your style?
I like simplicity. I’m wearing pants and tops because of this event. I don’t wear pants in Nigeria. But when I’m out of this country I wear trousers. I’m not going to disappoint you when you see me in a party. But when you see me in gele or owambe clothes then I have disappointed you. I have always been like this; Simple. My father was a fine dresser and my mum is gorgeously dressed and adorned with accessories but that has never been my style from the beginning.
Favourite holiday destination?
We always have family outing in July/August with my children and grandchildren. We are always in Georgia on holiday.
How do you relax?
On Saturdays I don’t go anywhere. I’m lying down just by self, playing some gospel music, I’m always under the shadow of the almighty.