Hello, all you wonderful people!

It’s been a while. How have you been? Good? Great!

I have been tweaking things with Good Intentions and Major Changes are underway but I won’t be telling you what said changes are ‘cos I don’t wanna jinx anything. You understand, right? Sweet!

Anyway, since my heroine is a make up artist, I took it upon myself to trouble my make up artist friends and grill them about the whys and hows of their business. Expect interviews soon. Till then how about something from Gypsy Black’s archive. This was my first Cover Story (in 2008, I think); an interview with the very kind, very wonderful Banke Meshida Lawal. Enjoy!

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

I met Mrs. Banke Meshida Lawal on the day before St. Valentine’s Day at her BM Pro Studio in Ikoyi. I was a little late and very nervous, but she just smiled sweetly and said, “I’m Banke”.

Banke Meshida Lawal is the soft-spoken, very endearing owner and founder of BM Pro Studio and cosmetics range. After she had consulted with a client for a few minutes, we settled into her office for the interview.

BM: I’m Banke Meshida Lawal. My maiden name is Meshida, and my married name is Lawal. I’m married to Lanre Lawal (she adds with a smile); we got married one year ago on February 10th.

GYPSY: Do you have any kids?
BM: No. (GYPSY: Why?) It’s not yet time for kids.

GYPSY: What’s your romantic life like?
BM: Because I’m married to my best friend, every day is a fantastic day in our marriage and it’s been fun, you know, being with someone and being married to them.

GYPSY: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Any plans?
BM: Valentine just crept up on me. In fact, I just realized today that it is valentine’s tomorrow, but I really don’t have any plans for tomorrow.

GYPSY: Maybe your husband does?
BM: I hope so (she laughs softly), I hope so.

GYPSY: You are THE make-up artist. How did you get here?
BM: I suppose I am where I am today because it’s God’s plan for my life, but apart from that, a lot of hard work, a lot of dreaming and going to live my dreams and being focused on what I’m doing.

GYPSY: You have a first degree?
BM: In English, from the University of Lagos.

GYPSY: So how did you move from English to this?
BM: I think because English afforded me a lot of time to do what I wanted (to do) with myself while at the University. It was a good course; I enjoyed it. I didn’t see it as a problem. I was doing a degree I enjoyed, and I also had time for extra-curricular activities. Also, I’ve always loved to draw and paint and what I do now is an extension of art, and I started doing makeovers while at the University and it just followed. I just fell into this profession.

GYPSY: When did you start branding yourself as Banke Meshida – Make-up Artist?
BM: I think even while at school…when I was in UNILAG, I used to do a lot of henna tattoos on myself, I’d do my hair in funky, outrageous styles, so I think that helped in branding me because then a lot of people knew that there was this girl who used to do her hair funny and dress funny and have tattoos all over her body. I think the branding started then. And I had a lot of acquaintances, so…I wouldn’t say I was a social person, I just, you know, had a lot of people that I knew and…acquaintances so to speak and you know, for a brand to kick off, you need to be out there and I guess subconsciously, without making an effort, I was always out there.
And like I said, English…I wouldn’t say it was a simple course (she giggles a little, almost apologetically), but it gave me a lot of time to do other things.

GYPSY: Did you meet your husband in school?
BM: Yes I did.

GYPSY: How did you meet him?
BM: I met him one really hot, sunny day in the car park, and he was with a friend. We have a mutual friend who introduced him to me and eh, I thought, ‘Wow, this guy looks fit!’ (GYPSY: Okay!) You know (laughing bashfully), and I’ve always been the sort of person that if I like someone there’s no need beating about the bush and being…not coy but, it was I liked him and that was that. Of course, the feminine side of me had to find out who he was and if he wasn’t attached and all of that. So it was fun while we were courting, and basically I met him through a friend.

GYPSY: Your husband is a Muslim (and you are a Christian). Is that a problem now that you’re married?
BM: No, it’s not. I suppose because in our relationship it’s always been about the two of us. I don’t know when our kids come if it will still be about the two of us, but we’ve just been able to balance our lives. In a relationship, it’s about respect and trying to understand the other person; what makes them tick, what they are all about. It’s a learning process really, and once you know you don’t want to hurt the other person, it will work itself out.

GYPSY: When did you open this studio?
BM: This particular studio, I opened in 2006. Yeah, but previously I was at Rumens Road, Ikoyi. I opened that studio in 2003.

GYSPY: What’s your clientele like?
BM: People from all walks of life, both on the Nigerian and the international scene. Anyone really that has a knack for great make-up.

GYPSY: You have a make-up range now?
BM: Yes, I have my own make-up line; it’s called BM Pro. It’s a colour cosmetics line, in that we cater for Black skin, Asian skin, but most importantly, the Nigerian weather. It dictates what we have manufactured. Over the years, I’ve found out that most known brands didn’t cater for the Nigerian weather because it’s a humid and dry weather that we have here. Most products cater for dry and cold (weather) while a lot of them don’t even understand the extent of the humidity we have here. That’s why there are some things I wouldn’t do as a make-up artist, other people might do it but I don’t and I know why.

GYPSY: Things like what?
BM: Using oil-based foundation. If you’re abroad where it’s dry and cold that’s fantastic but if you’re here, I don’t think that you do because you put it on in a few minutes you need to touch it up.

GYPSY: Is your product range just cosmetics?
BM: There’s a lot of skin care in there. There’s the serum; the anti-shine serum, the cleansers, foundation primers.

GYPSY: Do you want to expand it?
BM: If the course of my work dictates that we should do more skin care then we most likely will. I don’t rule anything out. It’s what will give our customers the utmost satisfaction that dictates what we do.

GYPSY: When you started did you expect it to be this big?
BM: Em, no, I didn’t. I was just doing what I enjoyed doing. Over the years, I would look up some products, crush it, mix it, if it works…if it works for me, then it was fine. But, technology and the fashion world keep changing, and because I really am interested in those things, you know, I go along with them. I go along with the changes and try to bring them back home. Bring it to Nigeria and let people know what’s in and what’s out. I just try to help people achieve great results with their make-up.

GYPSY: Do you think what you do is important?
BM: It is so important. I can’t emphasize the importance of a well made-up face, because it does a lot for your confidence and confidence is key. One of my mantras is ‘Beauty is in-built but an attractive face is worked on.’ You can make your face look really attractive and you can use it to achieve perfection with your face.
In every day experiences, confidence plays such an important role in everything you do and if you’re not confident you’re not going to be able to achieve. It’s so important I can’t overemphasize it.

GYPSY: When you hear the word ‘competition’, what comes to mind?
BM: What comes to mind is, ‘Okay, so this is new’.
I see now that there are a lot of make-up artists which is great, because I…we can’t cater to…what’s the population of Nigeria now? And there’s just 6 or 7 of us in my team. We can’t do everybody. We will do the people that we can.
Each time I see make-up artists, it impresses me because I can see that there are a lot of people out there who realize it’s not only white collar jobs that can earn you an income. It can be anything, it’s possible for you to do anything as long as you’re focused and what you’re offering is very good, you will eke out a living and a very good one at that.
For me, competition is out there. It doesn’t dictate what I do. What I do I do because I’ve thought about it, and I want to do it. Then also, maybe it makes me raise my stakes. It helps me to go one step further. In this town, you have people, everywhere really, once you do something, everyone rushes in to do the same. I want to be one step ahead of everything.

GYPSY: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
BM: Changing the face of make-up. BM Pro is the first Nigerian make-up brand. I’m proud of that. A lot of make-up artists use BM Pro. I’m so happy with that. When I go for an occasion and I see the make-up is BM Pro colours, that makes me very proud.

I would want to be remembered as someone who changed the face of make-up products in Nigeria, and helped Nigeria grow in that field.

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