We had the good fortune of connecting with Tope Adubi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tope, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
My name is Tope Adubi and I am from Nigeria. My dad passed away when I was 6. So, my mum had to work extra hard to raise my brother and I. Growing up, one of the businesses I saw her run was with Mary Kay. It was so much fun for me to see how she got the products, calculated her profit margin, considered a lot of factors before selecting her distributors and overall, the work she put in to drive awareness and inturn sales for the brand. One thing I noticed was the lack of foundation shades for dark skin tones and the absence of nude lip stains that matched our skin tones. Years later, I picked up a major interest in the continent of Africa and traveled to countries in the western, eastern, and northern parts of Africa. This exposure made me realize a few gaps. In my personal life, I still couldn’t find enough nude lip stain shades or functional matte lip stains. The few products available were not even affordable and on the continent of Africa, I realized the perception about the continent is flawed on several levels. I decided to put in the work and started Kilali Cosmetics a beauty business that believes in bridging the gap in the beauty industry and sharing more about the beauty that lies within the continent of Africa.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I launched Kilali Cosmetics in Nigeria and scaled to the United States a few months later with my 12 shades of 18-hour wear matte lip stains. Making a move like that especially to a new terrain is not a walk in the park as I have come to experience. However, It is all worth it as I get to share more about Africa with the world. A month after I launched my business in the united states, the COVID lockdown started. I was completely petrified and started thinking of ways to keep a newly launched business afloat. Months went by and people were wearing masks. The last thing on their minds was wearing lip stains let alone buying a new lip stain brand but I wasn’t going to shut down just after I started. I had to be resilient. I had always planned on launching a skincare arm of the business but not as early as I did. I started working on my plans, research, and product testing. This took long months but I eventually launched Kilali Skin. This part of the business coupled with my career experience as a digital marketing professional, I have been able to triple the revenue made in 2020 as a whole within the first three months of 2021. Resilience always pays off.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
God for my ideas, my family/friends for supporting these numerous ideas and keeping the energy positive, & the Tony Elumelu Foundation for providing a platform to work with and experience the different African countries. This actually brought my attention to the misrepresentation of the continent as a whole on different levels- entrepreneurship, resources, creativity, and overall beauty that lies within the continent.
Woske Thoughts Chudy Ogobegwu