For the first MAC Cosmetics store that opened in the heart of Bole, the first such brand in Ethiopia, a soft launch with top makeup artists and celebrities invited to take a glimpse of the new franchised landmark store late last month.
Inside, an intimate reception took place were hundreds of people walking past noted entrepreneur, Nur Hussen Yassin, as he was welcoming them, conversing with them and in return, they congratulated him for his new daring business adventure.
“I have always aspired to bring high quality and brand name products to Ethiopia and offer ample choices within the country, without the need or the inconveniences of having people buy from abroad and asking others to bring for them,” he told The Reporter as he continued to multitask. “With the products we have within this franchise store, we guarantee genuine products and they are the same top quality products sold inside fine department stores of the world at some of the finest boutique stores.”
For the business mogul, an importer of beverages, food products, owner of a chain of Duty Free stores at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, and now builder of real-estates in the capital among many other business interests as part of his NHY company, for the once owner of London Café in Bole, this has been an exciting venture.
“We went through careful selections of who we wanted to hire and give them the training they needed and before the became a representative of our products. We did not just randomly select them to be our employees, but we chose them to be our ambassadors of great products of MAC carefully. Beauty products need to be elegant and bring elegance and that is what the vision is”, he said.
“It should be a pleasant experience, a choice and an option of an everyday lifestyle”.
For the opening of the store, located inside a glass building adjust to the Berhane Adere Africa Mall, all the employees were offered extensive training in both in Nairobi and in Addis with top notch professional makeup artists brought in from the global MAC team and also from within the capital of Kenya for over two months.
MAC opened its first signature-franchised store in Kenya in 2014, the first of its kind within the Eastern part of Africa.
The first store in Nairobi was opened by Kenyan entrepreneur; the founder of Nairobi’s Lintons Beauty World, Joyce Gikunda and took her 13 years to realize her dreams, giving way for the opening of the Addis Ababa location.
“I have reached the highest echelon of my career. Now that MAC is here I am fulfilled,” Joyce said at the time of the opening and has so far been received warmly by local Kenyans disproving the old wisdom that African’s are not able to afford such quality, top makeup products. This in a nation, like Ethiopia that is stocked with imitations brought in from China and the United Arab Emirates and there was to have been hesitant from MAC headquarters in New York.
But she was determined.
In an interview with a local paper, Gikunda described her experience and what transpired with the management of MAC.
“They kept telling us they were not ready for Africa. When an office was opened in Dubai, I flew there to plead my case, but they were still not ready. I came back disappointed. And when they opened an office in South Africa, we pursued them again and finally the dream came true,” she told Africa Business Insight Magazine.
MAC hopes the new Addis Ababa location will be warmly received as its operations in Kenya. The first indication seems promising.
“What is unique about MAC products is that, it is every woman products that has also taken note of individuality, diversity and the many ethnic makeup of the population that is out there. It does not just assume its product on the beauty or the one desirable woman that conventional wisdom assumes is beautiful”, a 19 years old Unity University student told The Reporter, as she was the few that were invited for the opening event.
Founded in Toronto, Canada in 1984, the MAC brand, now headquartered in New York and owned by Estee Lauder Companies has seen its popularity grown considerably in the world. It gained its popularity with its signature products of “100 shades of professional quality makeup must-haves for All Ages. All Races. All Sexes,” as it self-described itself and giving it a mainstream worldwide appeal in many parts of the world.
“I am a newly engaged woman and I have been searching the MAC websites for a while and looking at how I would be able to purchase these products. But with such a store, I can simply walk in, along with bridesmaids and purchase such beautiful products without venturing outside of Addis Ababa, or begging others to import some for me. Best is the fact that I can sample them here, instead of assuming based on images from the MAC websites,” Aida Tadesse, 34 told The Reporter.
This is music to the ears of Nur.
“That is what the vision is. To bring the best of the world to our doors and give people options and be assured that our products are those that others enjoy abroad but give that opportunities to our customers in Ethiopia. That is the vision and the dream we have,” he said.
Depending on the reception the signature store receives, Nur expects to open other stores in other parts of the capital and perhaps, across the nation. “For me, it is not just about making money, but service, quality and something that I want people to know me by, as hands on business person who listens and responds to our customers’ demands. To bring the best of the world to our frontier and give the same privilege travellers from Ethiopia enjoy elsewhere for those at home, is a strategy that I live by,” he concluded.