December 7th, 2020
British born Banke Olowu left a career in IT to follow her dream of starting a beauty brand that encouraged individualism, versatility and inclusion. After years of buying products she loved, but all too often found difficult to use, she set out to identify innovative products that could cater to both makeup professionals and makeup lovers wanting to look their best. In 2018 Ruba Beauty was launched turning her long-held passion into her full-time job. We caught up with her to chat making that big career change as well as all things beauty.
What’s your background and what brought you into beauty?
I have no formal background in beauty, just a passion and love of it! I have a background in Finance, HR and IT and as I have a knack for knowledge sharing, I felt it was time to share my passion for all things beauty with the world.
What or who were (or still are) your beauty influences?
My mum solely influenced my views on beauty growing up.
What’s your earliest makeup memory?
My earliest makeup memory was me playing with mum’s makeup. Oooh! that got me into trouble a few times. But I remember my mum eventually bought me a toy makeup kit; it was all made of plastic, but it stopped me from playing with hers.
What’s the first product you remember using as a teenager and has that affected your later product choices?
It was a lipstick by a well-known brand that my mum gave me back in 1996. It had been gifted to her and because it was gold coloured, she didn’t like it, so she gave it to me. I was over the moon. Funny thing is, I never used lipsticks after that year till about 2014 and I have always wondered if that colour had an impact on the colours I’m drawn to now.
You started out in IT – not the usual route for a beauty professional – how did you make the leap and what was the impetus for making such huge career move?
Actually, I started in Finance, moved into HR and then IT as an independent consultant. Whilst I now consider myself as a Beauty Entrepreneur, I still have a leg in IT, as I enjoy sharing my knowledge in that space too.
What were the first steps to setting up Ruba Beauty and what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Firstly, I identified a problem which led to my curiosity on identifying beauty tools that anyone who loves makeup can use – this is an invaluable first step. The first product being the beauty sponge that could be used for a full-face routine – believe me when I say I can “blend, bake, contour and highlight with our beauty sponges like a pro. Next was to build a customer persona then I tested the market for independent honest reviews, for anything we could do better. This has been helpful so far. I can go on and on. My advice to other entrepreneurs out there is to exert patience (lots of it), be persistent in whatever they do and most of all “believe in yourself”.
What did you want to achieve with your product line? How long did it take you to create and develop the concept from start to finish and bring it to market?
I wanted products that are easy to use which is why versatility is also at the heart of Ruba Beauty. For the first product, it was definitely 18 months, and believe me that is the easy part. Once the first product idea comes, one needs to start thinking of the next product, then the next and so on. It keeps me up at night, but I enjoy it.
Your brand promotes inclusivity, versatility and individuality in beauty as you felt this was missing in the market – what more could the industry as a whole do to address these issues?
I have two children, and I have taught them the importance of loving themselves regardless of what anyone thinks of them as my mum did with me. However Social media now plays a huge role in beauty influences, and my teenage years were in an era where we had one beauty standard, but thankfully my mum taught me to love myself regardless.
Today, beauty brands like Fenty Beauty are showing the importance of inclusivity, versatility and individuality and are using their platform to promote the message that there isn’t one beauty standard. So, for me, I would say creating awareness is the work that needs to continue, till there is the realisation that beauty does come in many forms.
Your social media presence is growing rapidly with your brushes and sponges being used by influencers. Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
In terms of Beauty Brands, I am very excited, and I can’t wait to share what have planned I’m hoping within the next few months we gain even more traction. In terms of brands we would like to collaborate with, the list is endless but UOMA, ICONIC London, OPV Beauty, P.Louise, Eloise Beauty, Doll Beauty and Pink Salad Lndn are on the list of our favourite indie brands.
Did you ever expect your career to be this varied? What is next on the horizon for you and the brand?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs; I always knew my career path had to be diverse. I have dabbled into various businesses in the past. The next dream is to own a chain of Nail Bars within and outside the UK, so I’m ready for that challenge.
Follow Ruba Beauty on Instagram @rubabeautyuk
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