Get to Know Sholayide
GET TO KNOW ONE OF OUR GIRLBOSS FOUNDATION GRANT RECIPIENTS: SHOLAYIDE OTUGALU
Hi Sholayide! Where did you grow up? How did it shape who you are/the work you do today?
I spent my first few years of childhood in Nigeria and the remaining years growing up in Maryland. It was a very hard transition - understanding the ways and language of a new country and meeting new friends in elementary school was extremely tough. I was a social outcast! It took a little while for me to adjust, but while getting accustomed to the American lifestyle I was able to learn how to accept my differences and let them work to my advantage. The constant labeling of 'social outcast' allowed me to explore ways to still remain true to myself and my culture but to also be independent. It allowed me to do things my way - without having to fear judgement from others. I was fortunate enough to develop that mentality at a young age and it only grew stronger with age. Today, I'm a carefree spirit who thrives on being the social outcast! I think it's great to be an independent thinker and to do the things that make you happy, that make you feel comfortable within yourself regardless of what others might think.
Did you go to college? If so, where did you study and what did you get out the process?
I traveled down south to attend college at the real GSU - Georgia State University! I graduated with a degree in Journalism - Public Relations. College was the most rewarding experience for me... I never thought I'd be a friend to so many, and draw different people together in so many ways. I may have joined every social organization on campus - I was a social butterfly. I began to develop various skills that I utilize to this day.
College was also the time where I began to do makeup professionally. Before college I did makeup for my high school friends - dance competitions or homecomings. But once in college, I began working and training with major brands. I was balancing many hats - a full time college student/creative director for the campus fashion organization/student government/working part-time as a freelance makeup artist - plus other student organizations. I quickly learned how to be the jack of all trades.
Who was your hero or greatest inspiration growing up?
Growing up, I had two inspirations: Josephine Baker and Oprah Winfrey! Josephine Baker was such a vivacious being with a spirit that captures almost every aspect of my personality: strong, powerful, passionate, flirtatious, gentle, rare, mysterious, sensual... Every Black History Month, I found myself doing book reports on her life.
Show me someone who isn't inspired by the great Oprah and I'll show you a liar! Since elementary school, I've aspired to bring happiness to others just as she did and continues to do. I hope that what I can achieve through Joséphine Cosmetics can somehow intertwine the legacies both these women created for our generation.
What inspires you now?
I am inspired by New York City! After living here for four years I have encountered so many different people who all have a unique story to tell. Somehow our uniqueness binds us together and the friendships gained and lessons learned consistently inspires me to be my best possible self.
How did the idea for Joséphine Cosmetics come about?
While working on one of my favorite clients when she stopped me and said: "You really love doing this, huh?" I smiled and nodded. It was a great feeling to have someone recognize my passion. I then started to play with the idea that if ever I had to work for myself, I would start my own cosmetics line. The idea for Joséphine continued to grow as I continued to freelance for other brands. I kept saying to myself: 'If this were my line, I'd brand it this way' or, 'I'd have a product without these ingredients.' After a few months of those thoughts I then began study Ayurvedic skincare rituals, apothecary treatments, homemade recipes and other holistic approaches to beauty.
How did you develop the idea into a business?
I started with a big picture outline. I asked the tough questions and gave myself honest answers: How much money can I save? What will I sacrifice? I created a three year plan and outlined all the action plans that would need to happen each year in order to launch. I made sure I stuck to everything I wrote down and effectively executed. I started with the items I knew wouldn't require any outside resources - things I knew how to do by myself - and I went to work! I'm a talented ecommerce professional by day and a fashion loving diva by night, so I made sure I utilized my knowledge of both worlds to develop a really dope business model that would set Joséphine on fire! Once the model was locked down, I knew I had a great idea that eventually morphed into a strong business.
What advice would you give to girls who want to do your job? First and foremost, own your talents. You will encounter a lot of naysayers but you have to trust in yourself. Once you have that trust, you'll gain the confidence that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and take your artistry into various avenues. There should also be some level of understanding that, although your interest might lie in the beauty industry, each day won't be filled with photoshoots, makeovers, and all that jazz. The business and legal side of running your own line is extensive and you have to be well versed in every aspect of the business if you want to prove successful. No longer are you just the freelance makeup artist; you are now also head of development, production manager, creative director, operations, marketing, quality control - the list goes on. Prepare yourself!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
My mom just gave this one to me this week: PROVE YOUR STRENGTH. You will be faced with many challenges and opportunities when you'll have to prove that you are strong enough to be in your current position/situation. Prove that you belong where you are, prove that you can take it to the next level. Consistently challenge and prove to yourself just how strong you really are.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working?
No jokes here, but when there is free time - I really do enjoy binge watching Frasier & Family Guy on Netflix with my Westie Duke. If I'm not doing that, you may find me twirling around some dance floor in the Lower East Side (with Jameson in hand).
What are you planning next (in work/life)?
Once I get Joséphine to a certain level in the US, I plan on making a short-term move to Paris. I have many great things planned for the Joséphine identity outside of the beauty sector and I'm pretty sure I'll need to rub elbows with a few Parisians to extend my network.