Entrepreneur, wife and mother Dija Ayodele’s passion for the beauty and grooming industry started when she was just a little girl, accompanying her mum to the beauty salon. Since then, she spotted a huge niche in the market.
Results found that despite a burgeoning movement towards diversity within beauty, an astonishing 92% of those surveyed experienced difficulties in finding skincare professionals with relevant expertise and experience in treating darker skin tones.
Taking matters into her own hands, Dija created the Black Skin Directory in 2017, connecting women of colour with expert skincare professionals. She created a solution to address the specific needs of an often-underrepresented demographic.
The disconnect of being unable to find trusted and confident skin care professional, coupled with the strong spending power of women of colour, shows that there is an unrealised opportunity to bring both parties together. A significant number of women in the survey, even went as far as to say that it was important for both professional and client to be of the same skin colour as they felt that would increase the chances of the professional understanding their particular skin complaint.
The unique new platform will facilitate easier access to a network of nationwide qualified aesthetic professionals experienced in treating the common skincare complaints such as hyperpigmentation and keloid scarring found with darker skin tones, whilst highlighting suitable aesthetic treatments and products for women of colour.
Alongside this, the platform will provide tips and education on black skin as well as hosting events for women of colour to further learn more about their unique skincare needs. Black Skin Directory will also provide a great opportunity for skincare professionals to tap into a concentrated network to promote their services, products and treatments to women of colour demographic. We managed to catch up with Dija to talk business, skincare and what she does to relax.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone and lived there blissfully until 10 years old.
When did your passion for skincare/ beauty industry develop?
I’ve always been interested in grooming. As a child, I always accompanied my mother to the beauty and hair salon so the idea of looking after oneself has always been an interest. But working in the industry, I realise it has the ability to change lives, not just increased confidence for a patient but also in terms of providing employment and training for women from all backgrounds.
What made you create this directory?
So that black women and other women of colour could have a trusted resource to use to find skincare professionals and also to source product, treatment information that is concise, relevant and up to date. It’s also important that people can use it as a resource to look at various skin conditions and see how it affects and looks on black skin. Nothing like this has existed previously for women of colour and I felt I was in the position to create something that would be a sign post for women of colour to be able to access the services they need.
What’s it like to be a woman entrepreneur, creating your own business?
It’s interesting, it’s exciting and it’s hard work. There’s lots of plan As and plan Bs but every day is a school day. You’re constantly refining and evaluating to ensure you can still answer your ‘why’.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Definitely time and finance pressures. As much as I am a business woman, I’m also a family woman so ensuring I balance my time between the two can be tricky. Having financial pressures means that I have to be super creative and thoughtful in how I approach things. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing as it stops one from being impulsive and reckless with funds.
Where’s the Black Skin Directory going to be in five years?
Significantly grown the size of the Directory with more a global outlook. We have lots of plans but for now ensuring we are the number one reference site for women of colour in the UK is the number one priority.
What do you do in your down time?
I love travelling and exploring new places. Touching down somewhere new and jumping in a hire car to explore the parts not mentioned in the travel brochure is always an enriching experience. Thankfully my husband and daughter share my sense of adventure.
What’s your golden advice for people starting out their own business?
Do the work. Don’t assume things are going to land on your lap without you putting in the hours – to plan, network, learn, listen, soak in knowledge and information. Nobody owes you any favours, but people are always willing to help a hard-working person. Also, do you best work all the time, even when you don’t feel like it, show up for yourself as your reputation will go ahead of you.