I knew in my heart right from a young age that; I would end up working full time in the beauty industry - CEO of House of Merola

By Kemi Mobuse - Thursday, June 30, 2016

I recently came across a natural products brand on Instagram. I was intrigued by the packaging of their products and the way they presented themselves.  They branded themselves as a Beauty Revolution Company. Their product lines which ranges from skincare, scents to hair products are all are eco-friendly and natural; Petroleum free, SLS free and cruelty free.

I was able to secure an exclusive interview with the CEO of thus spectacular brand and you could feel the passion in her voice, as she talked about her brand and its journey so far, excerpts below;

KMB: Can we meet you?
House Of Merola: My name is Abiola Mercy Dawodu- Olumodeji. I am a wife, mother of two and a Christian. I studied Business, Finance & Economics and I am a qualified Beauty Therapist and Professional Makeup Artist trained by Estee Lauder, Lancome, Iman and London School of Makeup. My hobbies are singing, dancing and playing tennis.

KMB: What do you do?

House Of Merola: I am currently the CEO of House of Merola, The Beauty Revolution Company based in Abuja. We handcraft and create natural skincare, haircare and perfumery products with local ingredients from Nigeria and its African counterpart’s infuser with herbalism, aromatherapy and ayurvedic practices. We believe nature is powerful, nurturing and healing. Our mission is to beautify your life the natural way free of harmful chemicals and toxins.

KMB: What is house of Merola about And why that choice of Name in particular?
House Of Merola: House of Merola is actually a God given name. Merola is Mercy and Abiola blended together and the house part is because we make every product in-house with loving hands and a grateful heart. The name should make you feel at home and at ease that whatever product you buy and use will leave you feeling pampered and relaxed.

KMB: I observed that your brand niche is mostly skin and beauty related, how did you find yourself in this field?

House Of Merola: I have been interested in every aspect of beauty from a young age. I was always fascinated with the different products available for women especially, to adorn themselves with and make themselves more attractive and beautiful. I was also inspired by nature and all the different colours that abound and brightens up a place. I knew in my heart that I would end up working full time in the beauty industry but I had to work in a corporate environment for a couple of years to appease my parents for spending so much money on my foreign education for many years.

We started out as a Makeup Studio and Spa. We even had a salon and nail bar. We did very well but I was still feeling restless and when I had an insight to research about natural beauty products, something clicked for me. I knew I had found my true calling and I have not looked back since. One of the amazing things for me was when my Maternal Grandmother concocted a simple cream made out of shea butter, coconut oil and palm oil and applied it on my daughter's skin who had been suffering from extremely dry and sensitive skin with eczema and it completely healed, I knew I had found my Eureka moment. I started researching and taking courses on natural skincare formulation, herbalism, aromatherapy and most recently ayurvedic practices.

The natural haircare line was borne out of my frustrations of having natural hair since 2007 and struggling to maintain my daughter and I natural tresses without having to buy expensive foreign brands every time

KMB: How old is your brand and how has the market reception been ?

House Of Merola: House of Merola is officially 8 years old. The market reception is so much better than it was 5 years ago. Now people have more access to the internet so they can verify a lot of the information you give them and once they try our products, they keep referring people to us because they can see and feel the difference in their skin and hair. We are very firm in staying true to our brand promise so we do not promote Bleaching or chemically processing your hair with relaxers or texturizers.

KMB: What major challenges have you experienced since starting out, how did you sort them out, more importantly what can you say those challenges taught you?

House Of Merola: The major challenges we face in our ever growing industry is light issues, drastic economic changes, NAFDAC certification bureaucracy and poor packaging choices within the Nigeria shores. When the exchange rate was still absorbable, we imported our packaging and essential oils in bulk to help maintain a prestigious brand image. Our aim was to have high quality products in simple yet elegant packaging that most working Nigerians can afford. When importing options were no longer viable, we had to make do with whatever kind of packaging we can find in Nigeria and source for more of our ingredients locally without compromising on quality control. We explained to our customer about the packaging changes and most of them congratulated us on a wise decision. A customer actually said that it is better to have an effective product in a simple container than have a toxic product in a beautiful jar. My love and passion for what I do and my unshakable faith in Christ has kept my team and I going and every single success we have has been because our Chief Formulator is Almighty God Himself. Even when we make mistakes or mess up an order, we take ownership of our mistakes and correct it, learn from it and move on. Every milestone is celebrated and we appreciate all our customers because they are the reason our business is still standing in this current economic recession we face in Nigeria.

KMB: Is this all you do for a living?

House Of Merola: Aside from my job at House of Merola, I am also the Vice Chairperson of NNEW ( NECA's Network of Entrepreneurial Women) Abuja Chapter, I am also an MC at events and special occasions and gospel singer in my church. I also mentor younger women on generating business ideas, building up confidence as a woman, and Skill Acquisitions Instructor at Entrepreneurial Centres and Women's Groups.
KMB: Where do you see house of merola in five years?

House Of Merola: In 5 years time, House of Merola should be a known  brand nationwide and in some selected countries abroad. And House of Merola Beauty Institute should have become a reality in training and developing world class natural hair stylists, makeup artists, Natural skincare formulators and soap makers in Nigeria and beyond

KMB: Any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?

House Of Merola: My advice to any upcoming Entrepreneur is to be deeply passionate about what they want to do, learn all you can about the industry you want to penetrate, intern with an expert, start small but dream big, stay true to your vision, be honest and have integrity, surround yourself with positive and goal oriented people, ask for help, join a business networking group, find a mentor and never give up on your dream, no matter when. You can do and YOU WILL DO IT.

KMB: Lastly, how can you be contacted?
House Of Merola: Call: 08184931001
Instagram: @ houseofmerola

Thank you to Kemi for interviewing me. It has been a pleasure and an honour to be chosen to share about my life and my passion.

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