Harmattan season is one season that comes with several changes and challenges especially on the skin. Alex Enumah in this interview with a skin/beauty specialist, Pastor Deborah Omale, sought to know how best to take care of the skin as well as opportunities in the industry
What should we know about you?
I am Pastor Deborah Omale, the CEO Beauty Secret Skin Care and Spa. I am also the Visioner of Divine Women in God’s Service DWINGS, a mother and a wife.
What do you do outside ministry and family?
Outside ministry and family, I run a spa. A med spa that has a lot of things running under one roof. We just wanted like a one stop shop for everything that you will want to do from your head to toe. A situation where you want to do your hair and your nails you come here. You have medical issues, advance medical issues, we have a dermatologist, we have doctors that are here to cater to those medical skin and hair conditions and a lot of other things that we do here.
How is the industry like?
The industry is beautiful and it’s something I love. I have always loved everything that has to do with how you present yourself, how you take care of yourself as a man, as a woman, from your hair to your toe, looking neat, looking well-kept and looking healthy. So, for me I will say the industry is one of the best you can find yourself. Anything that puts a smile in other people’s faces I find so much joy in it. Some people come here with so many complaints and by the time they are leaving you see they have a huge smile on their face, that itself gives me a lot of joy.
Many people feel that taking care of your body and even the skin is meant for just the rich. I want to know if this is correct and if it’s not, how can this perspective be changed?
Let me start by saying it’s not correct. I think everybody should take care of themselves. You know there are different grades of treatment and there’s a category for everybody. So, no matter the little you can do, it’s better to do them, than do nothing. We are going into the age and time when people are more interested in your physical appearance than anything. Before I get to know that you are a nice person, what I see at first, forms a basis for my impression of what I feel about you. So, that in itself is already sending a message even before we speak. So, looking after yourself is a must for everybody especially with what is happening now. All of a sudden everybody is washing their hands but this is something we should have been doing, it should be a norm.
You just talked about hygiene and emphasised on hand washing bringing to fore the COVID-19 pandemic. So, how has the pandemic impacted the beauty industry?
It has impacted a huge deal. But if there is one more thing that I have run with from the very beginning of my business, it is hygiene. For us here hygiene has always been the number one priority. So, we had a lot of clientele that understood that fact because they have experienced it and so even when a lot of businesses were struggling to get their hands sanitizer in places and ensure that their places were cleaned at all times, our own customers are used to it from day one. So, in as much as it was a little bit of a struggle because of the fear of the spread, I think that was what kept a lot of people away from businesses including ours fear of the spread and not even the hygiene part of it because that already has been sorted out. So, a lot of people were not coming out just because of fear, that they might get infected and all that and we were closed for all through that time the virus was just going round, we were not even opened. We opened our doors when the government said it was okay to open and then we put extra measure in place to make sure that as you are coming in you are wearing a face mask and sanitize your hands so it did affect us, but I won’t say too much because we had consistent people who were sure that if they come here they are in a safe hand and safe environment.
It is Harmattan season and it comes with several changes and challenges including skin, what is the import of this to Nigerians and how can it be handled?
For harmattan season, I think something that is synonymous with the weather is dry, flaky and dehydrated skin. So, some of the things we do here is, when customers come in, we advise them on the right type of treatment that is good for the weather. Because what works during the raining season for instance will not work during the Harmattan season.
We do something here called the Moroccan Hamman, it’s the best form of exfoliation that your skin can enjoy because it is a treatment that is done with herbs completely and is a treatment that scrubs you from head to toe, so that way you find out that a lot of people suffer from dead skin cells during the Harmattan season, especially people that have dry skin, the weather worsens it. So, with things like Moroccan Haman, we do proper exfoliating and then we advise you on the right kind of product to use. We also advise you on the kind of treatment steps to use, for instance we will tell you this is not the weather for cold water, this is the weather for lukewarm water. This is not the weather where you use soap that dry up your skin, that are very hash. This is the weather where you used moisturising soaps and creams.
What role do beauticians play in the Nigeria economy?
First of all, we are a large source of employment for people. For Beauty Secret, now we have over 50 staff and this staff include expatriate and these expatriate are paired with Nigerians who in turn are giving knowledge to the people they are paired with. So, you see we are providing job opportunity for a lot of people that would have been out there in the street. We are already solving a large chunk of the problem we are having in Nigeria which is unemployment.
We are also a great source of inter country relationships, because for instance most of the people we employed are Moroccans, their government knows that they are here. So, you see there is a lot of friendly relationship. In fact, recently, Nigerians are allowed to travel to Morocco without visa because a lot of spas employ Moroccans. So, you see, we are playing very important roles; providing employment, succor and comfort because a spa is a place that you can come in and your whole day has just been upside down, you are stressed, you are angry from the traffic and from everything and then you come into a spa and then you are happy. There’s one part of the spa I loved personally, like couples’ therapy. We have a lot of treatment and rooms here that cater for two people, in fact 90 per cent of our treatment here are for couples.
From what you have said, the industry has great potential. How well has Nigeria really exploited these opportunities?
We have not really exploited these opportunities! we haven’t. Nigeria is so rich in culture and Nigeria have so many places of tourism. There is nothing wrong if we merge our natural resources as part of tourism. We spoke earlier on about the harmattan season, our sheer butter is like a miracle in a jar, our coconut oil, the black coconut oil, if I tell you what it does for hair and for skin that is why when we are talking of skin care is not being expensive. These are things you can get in the market for N100, N200 and N500 and it will serve the whole family and it’s one of the best things you can lay your hands across. There’s nothing wrong if Nigeria have a large med spa that will infuse culturally with what we have and when you come there, everything that will be used on you are products that are made, sourced and used by Nigerians. I don’t know but, I don’t think we have any factory in Nigeria that is government owned that are producing natural herbs product for Nigerians and even those in diaspora because there is this notion on spa that it is just to go and do massage, do hair, but massage in itself is a therapy and it’s medical. There are certain things you go to the hospital for that three or four sessions of massage can relieve but it is not seen like that, unfortunately.
So, what is your message to Nigerians and also the government?
Invest, invest and invest in the beauty sector. The only sad thing is that half of the things we have to use here are sourced them from abroad because there’s no form of regularisation for our products here. So, people just need to invest and know that there is potential in it as you can make money out of it. There are a lot of organic things that we have in Nigeria that other countries cannot boasts of and other countries like Morocco that have it are making the best use of it. They are known for having best herbs, great skin, great hair, because of what they have and their government makes it easier for them to trade with other people.