House of Tara: Building an African Beauty Company
In early 2014, Tara Fela-Durotoye, the founder and CEO of House of Tara, was contemplating one of her greatest achievements to date. Her company had been named by L’Oréal as a strategic distributor for Nigeria of leading international cosmetics brand Maybelline – marking another milestone in its ongoing success story. Lauded as a pioneer in the beauty and makeup industry in Nigeria, House of Tara was credited with launching the country’s first makeup studio, establishing the first makeup school in West Africa, and creating a full makeup product line entirely dedicated to African women. From a small venture in the late 90s, the company had grown into a sophisticated organization with a broad array of products and services, a multi-channel distribution network, professional makeup schools, and high-touch customer service.
With operations throughout the country, House of Tara was well placed to take advantage of the continued growth in cosmetics sales, fuelled by an emerging middle class with more disposable income. But despite the apparent opportunities, a number of distribution challenges remained. Unlike a typical beauty company operating through retail channels, House of Tara had a limited pool of beauty sales reps through which to reach the end customer. Since the mass-market segment accounted for the majority of cosmetics sales, how best could the products be made widely available?
The case describes the evolution of House of Tara from a ‘one woman show’ initially offering bridal makeup services to a fully-fledged beauty business with a network of resellers and branded stores throughout the country. It gives an update on the latest developments that have seen House of Tara become the leading indigenous makeup brand in Nigeria, with a focus on how the local retail environment shaped its distribution strategy to reach its target markets.