Eryca Freemantle is a multi-award winning international makeup artist who is working to shape the world of beauty. A keynote speaker, beauty trainer and expert, Eryca has worked with celebrity clients from Seal to Yasmin Le Bon, Whitney Houston, cosmetic companies, magazines, beauty industry conferences and so many more. We connected with the beauty guru to discuss the African beauty industry, beauty trends and more.

Glazia: Eryca, what do you think about the Nigerian beauty industry and the African beauty market at large?

Eryca Freemantle: I think you know in comparison to where the Nigerian beauty industry was five years ago, I think it’s come a long way but not in a positive light. Everybody and everyone in their own corner is a make-up artiste, a beautician, a spar specialist but I don’t see any training. You know when you talk about Africa, Africa the continent, there are over 50 countries so I can’t speak on all the countries but the countries that I know that have really stepped up their game in the beauty industry, and it’s far beyond Nigeria.

I have seen the places like South Africa, Kenya, Ghana really stepped up their game but I know once Nigeria gets the standards right, it’s going to be the place that every brand in the world wants to come to. And I have actually seen for myself, I have had inquiries from some of the biggest brands in the world on how to get here and it’s how do they penetrate the market? so there is a lot of scope for lots of the things to happen in the marketplace.

G:  According to the Nielsen study, African-Americans currently hold a buying power of $1 trillion with an estimated buying power of $1.3 trillion by 2017. Black women are said to spend 80% more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care as their non-black counterparts. Yet, they have been grossly unrepresented by the cosmetics industry throughout history.

Do you think the global beauty industry has failed to fully incorporate black skin needs into beauty products?

E.F: Straight forward answer to that is no! When you give your power and your ownership to others then it’s entirely your fault. So the industry is really fundamentally after money – it doesn’t care whether the money is black, brown or green. When you ask the question of ‘black’, I really have to as a professional question your worldview and that is because you are looking at things from an African perspective which I really truly understand but if you’re speaking global, the word ‘black’ is so limited, hence why as you know, I have got this campaign called “Embracing All Tones of Women” because there are so many different shades of women and there are so many Africans that are non-black.

G: Secondly, in what ways do you think this can be changed?

E.F: Ownership! Create your own stuff for yourself, simple.

G: What do you think the African beauty industry can do to tap into this readily available market?

E.F: Own it! I can’t say it enough. I say it all the time. We give away our power, we give away our rights and we look at western society to enable us, to recognize ourselves for who and what we are. We own or we should own who and what we are and what we are about. I don’t think we should allow anybody else to tell our stories. So you know if you always look at the global industry and I suppose you mean western as a collective – you would never fit into their agenda. You would always (only) be a part of their agenda. So if we spend millions and trillions, why doesn’t it come back to ourselves? The only way we could do that is give these organizations a run for their money and create our own – with structures and standards.

G: Where do you see the African beauty industry in the next five years?

E.F: I am part of an organization called SWAA and it’s about assurance, insurance, standards and quality. I would love to see personally the industry have some sort of standardization and some sort of association where people can complain. So right now, I think it’s open for abuse… that’s the negative. The positive… that there is so much creativity in this market place but it needs to be tamed, it needs to be controlled and people need to be paid accordingly. I don’t think those that are really skilled realize how much they are worth and how much they can actually earn. But it all has to be structured and certain legislations needs to be put in place. So the next five years, I can see huge boom.  I work and I deal with trends and predictions. Obviously due to confidentiality agreements I can’t give away that intellectual property for nothing but I do know that Africa – like everything else, is the place to be; the continent to be.

G: Where do you think they should be looking at as regards beauty trends and forecast? That’s in relation to the African beauty industry?

E.F: The woman on the street. Everything from fashion, to beauty, to hairstyle always permeates from the woman on the streets – and when you say ‘they’, I am not sure who you mean. I think you mean the authorities, the brands but this is where we need to take control because we as Africans, as black women – and I am being very specific now. We are on the streets, so we should be able to control and have a clearer understanding and earn gross on the profits and be part of the profits farther than going past us and going straight to these global brands who have their people to do trends and predictions. And this is  the disadvantage which I have seen over the years, I am a consultant for the industry. Many years ago, I had to do lots of research and brands would have me do their research. Now they hire no one because what do we do as black people? We give away our intellectual property and our secrets for free. Just look at YouTube, Instagram and the other places, you know, all that information people don’t realize that there are monetary worth behind it and what the brands do is just look at them, follow the leader, follow the people on social media and get all the information for nothing.

G: Bonus question. If you had to pick just one beauty product to travel with, what would it be?

E.F: Vaseline. Simple.

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