1. Why are you interested in Uganda’s cosmetics industry?
Why not? Black Opal has been around from 1994. We shall make 25 next year. She is a very bold, adventurous and confident woman who wants to go around the world.
When we talk about business, positioning and developing our distribution, Uganda was on my list.
2. Are you looking at the corporate woman only?
We are not just into the corporate woman but every woman.
Around the world, we work mainly with distributors because they are the experts in the market.
3. Have you looked at any places to distribute to?
That is a collaborative decision between me and my distributor; Lintons. It is a very well established premium beauty store for colour cosmetics, hair and skin care products, fragrances and it is located at Acacia Mall. There, you will find Black Opal in a flagship presence. We also have the Good Life pharmacies, Guardian and several other beauty supply stores and pharmacies. The list could be endless. We are looking at how we can penetrate this market further through cosmetics shops.
4. What share of Uganda’s market do you command?
It is too early to say so because we are just touching the surface of the Ugandan market. But our goal is to be omnipresent and we are making sure that Black Opal, in years to come, will become a household name.
5. How are going to deal with the counterfeits?
To overcome counterfeits, a brand, distributor, or shop owner cannot do it themselves. It should be a collaborative effort. The first step would be getting the average consumer out there, the person who is using the makeup to understand the difference between the authentic goods and a copy. I always say, “If anyone wants to copy you, it is the sincerest form of flattery.”
However, the more people buy counterfeits, the more it fuels this epidemic. We need to ensure that our customers are savvy, aware and educated. by streamlining our distribution channels. We shall only be present in registered shops.
I encourage our customers to ask questions as they buy the products, say about place of origin, why one may not have all the shades, why one is only carrying a handful of the products. If you do not feel comfortable shopping in a particular place because they are not providing you with an assortment to tell the brand’s story, then walk out and find somewhere else where you will find the right thing.
If there are no testers, if they do not have all the products or the products look a little bit different, it is a red flag. In Kampala, our first point of reference is Lintons. They will carry the full assortment of products with testers, samplers where you can try the product before buying them.
6. What is the worth of Uganda’s beauty and personal care products market?
I am just a guest from the brand. I have an idea what the size is in Uganda but I do not want to put a figure.
7. What range of products do you produce and which one is your number one seller in Uganda?
We are manufacturers of colour cosmetics. We bring our products straight from the labs to our distributors around the world and cut out the middle man. That means we can get you quality products from world class formulas at affordable products.
Our heartland is in foundations and complexions. We cover every skin tone from fair, light, light medium, medium, medium dark, dark and deep and in between. We want to make sure that we can cater to the ever- changing diverse audience.
We are also strong on our lip category where we have lipsticks in cream, matte formulas, high impact glosses and lip definers.
8. How many Ugandans do you employ?
60 Ugandans and growing. Some Kenyans are also coming here because they go to the Lintons beauty college based in Nairobi. They have decided to relocate to Uganda such as the regional manager, Uganda, Brenda Kajuju.
9. What are your latest trends?
We have new products for the market such as liquid mart lipstick that is exceptionally creamy and rich in vitamin C and E. It hydrates and nourishes the lips but dries down to a true matte finish. It comes in eight different shades. We are also launching the super volumising mascara with a curved brush and creates lashes for one with short lashes while building lashes for one with medium and long lashes. There are also illuminating sticks that come in five shades and are great for highlighting. Research showed that they were looking for something in a stick form rather than in compact.
10. Any challenges of operating in this market?
Time is limited. The talk about challenges will never end but I am about opportunities and what we can do to get more of them.
11. Where do you see the cosmetics industry five years from now?
I wish I could see the future, then I would not have to work. But it is evolving because there is a lot of opportunity in Africa. Just like Uganda is the pearl of Africa, Africa is the pearl of the globe.
12. The industry has been dominated by mergers and acquisitions elsewhere. Would you be willing to be bought out?
We own our company and a lot of different brands. We are the manufacturers so it is not one of our objectives and it is not something we are looking at. Nonetheless, that is the nature of the business we are in. But if the time is right and that is the right thing for the business, who knows? Nonetheless, I cannot speak for the future.