What a woman can do, a man can surely do better, so goes the popular adage. The name Segun Olaleye may not ring a bell …

but his brand name, Segun gele, sure does. He is peculiar because he has ventured into a woman’s world. As an expert with over twelve years cognate experience and a seasoned make-over artist, he has taken his trade beyond the shores of Nigeria. In this chat with BUKOLA BAKARE, he reveals how he started his trade as well as his love for gele (headgear) and make-up. Excerpts:

How did you venture into make-up business and tying gele?

I learnt how to tie gele using my mum’s headgear. Every Sunday, before I go to church, I would perfect the art but as time went by, I started helping brides adjust their gele during traditional weddings. This was as far back as 1996 but I went into it fully when I relocated to the United States in 2002.

Some people would argue that this is a woman’s field. What’s your take on that?

I believe that God created every one with his or her own unique talent. In Nigeria, we would say that Nursing as a profession is a woman’s job, likewise hairdressing, while mechanic is a man’s job. But that was a thing of the past because in today’s world, it’s a job for both male and female and I think I’m blessed to be in this field as a man.

Take us down memory lane. Take us to your early days.

I was a student of Saint Gregory’s College, Obalende, and I recall helping friends in neighboring schools such as Holy Child College and Aunty Ayo with hair styling and makeup during fashion parades when we go out for Lit Day (Literary Day). From there, I took to hairdressing as a hobby after series of university closure between1993 and 95 (my pre- degree days at Lagos State University) where I worked as a stylist (weave expert) and later became a salon owner as far back as 1996. I have trained about twenty girls who are doing well in their respective fields today. I took to bridal hair in 1996 as my specialisation and later dabbled into bridal makeup and gele to complement the brides’ look and there, the name: The Bride’s Escort was born and today I’m just but a pen in the hands of Almighty God.

What does it take to be a make-up artist?

First, you must be passionate about the job, committed and patient. You must love colours, have a very creative and artistic mind and be ready to be a peoples’ person because you will meet different people down the line and you should be ready to work with them all.

Any challenges since you started your business?

It has not been smooth especially when I decided to start in the USA. It was difficult for men to allow their wives go to another man to tie her gele, it took a long while before I became accepted as the King of gele. You can imagine going to a party with your wife and you feel so miserable that your wife is not looking her best because her gele adds twenty years to her age coupled with the time she wasted fighting to fix it. To God be the glory, my challenges of the old has become my advantage today.

What’s that job that you’ve done that has really paid off?

All my jobs pay off in one way or the other. Like I said, you have to be passionate about your job, I have built a long lasting friendship in this business and I can boast of the fact that all my brides since 1996 are still friends of mine today and the referrals has paid off in a big way. There is nothing better than that as far as I’m concerned.

These days, people have this erroneous notion that engaging the service of a make up artist is a waste of time and it’s expensive too. What’s your take on this and how affordable are your services?

Well, whoever says that this present day and age wants to die of stress. I must tell you I still have couples send me thank you text messages every year they mark their wedding anniversary for being a part of their life on the most memorable day. Makeup artistry is the best thing that has happened to the wedding and event industry in the past 10 years, and with the success of people like Nigerian-based Tara Durotoye of House of Tara and Banke Mashida-Lawal of BM Pro as well as UK-based Juliet Esiri of Paragon Makeover, you will admit that engaging the service of a professional makeup artist is the best thing that has happened to the wedding scene of today. And why would you even spend so much money on decoration, hall, cake, feeding people, souvenirs, musical band to mention a few and not spend money on looking good at your own wedding! Unless you want to be a guest at your own event.

What does it take to be a makeup artist and gele expert? Did you undergo any form of tutelage?

Like I mentioned earlier, I started working based on my talent which I acquired while helping mum, sisters and friends. But to be in the proper place in the industry, I had to undergo training as a Cosmetologist at Jones International Beauty College in Houston Texas. I also trained with Last Looks Makeup Academy and have also undergone various training with MAC Cosmetics during their Pro-Workshop all around the United States. But when it comes to gele tying, it was all developed by myself and I must commend my clients; they have made my gele styles very popular.

What’s your family and educational background like?

I’m from a family of six: my dad, mum, an elder sister, two younger brothers and a nephew. I attended St Gregory’s College – 1984-1989; Lagos State University with B.A. Hons in English Language – 1997-2001.

What are your our hobbies?

I love to sing, dance, cook and of course, paint faces (chuckles)

What’s the cost implication involved in your job?

I have always cut my coat according to my pocket; makeup is very expensive; I must say but if you start acquiring them in bits, you will get there someday. It’s a long term investment, I must say so. I can’t lay a figure on the cost.

How fulfilled are you with what you do?

How fulfilled am I? Well, I will give all glory to God for it is not by my power or might but by His grace alone. I own a business called Infinite Perfection Studio in Houston Texas, USA. My bridal studio outfit www.infiniteperfections.com and my gele outfit, Segungele.com

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for my integrity when it comes to my business, without which you cannot be a success in whatever you do in life.

What’s your philosophy of life.

I take things the way it comes and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Advice to people who will like to venture into your line of business?

Go into this business with your heart, mind, body, soul and spirit. You will have your ups and downs but be focused and make sure you are in the right field. Never go into any business because Mr. A is making money, or Mr. B has done so and so things. Find that thing which you love to do the best, look for that thing that makes you happy. Every morning you wake up, not every one loves to go to his or her job every day it’s because they do not like what they do. I love my job, I look forward to going to work every day and that is what keeps me going.

What useful tips every woman and potential bride will find handy.

Take to a daily beauty regimen by cleansing your face daily and use your moisturiser every morning and night to prepare your skin for the big day ahead. Mary Kay has the best skin care you can find in the market. Always ask your sales representative for what would sooth your present skin care needs before undergoing any type of skin care. Finally, consult with your makeup artist for colour.