Damilola Regina Harrison is an ex beauty queen and a graduate of Estate Survey from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. After graduating from the university, she practiced for a while and worked in a Real Estate firm before finally deciding to quit and follow her passion. She went ahead to study to be a cosmetologist and finally started her own beauty and skincare brand, Darlo Organics, in 2008 and became the official sponsor of Miss Ideal Nigeria. Damilola has spent over 10 years in the skincare industry and considers herself a worthy expert. A Mother, wife and entrepreneur, she is passionate about beauty and made in Nigerian products, hence all her skincare products are organic and hand-made in her factory in Lagos.
Tell us more about creating Darlo Organics?
DARLO Organics Limited is a company founded and run by me. It all began in early 2008 after my search for good, natural, wholesome products to care for a skin problem.
After many months of extensive research and the realisation that what goes into many skincare products was perhaps contributing to my skin issues, I decided to learn more about the skin and went on to create my own skincare brand, naturally, specifically tailored to all skin types and conditions.
Quite quickly, my skin began to clear of spots and blemishes and became softer, fresher and healthier looking.
I am driven by the passionate belief that health and beauty should be more natural, less synthetic and taking great care of your skin means understanding what you put on it, especially since most of what goes on your body makes its way into the body; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Every skincare formula is developed in-house and handmade from scratch with ingredients that are 100% natural, gentle and alive with healing benefits, designed to revitalize your skin, calm your mind and elevate your spirit.
Why did you decide on entrepreneurship and not continue with what you studied?
My passion for business and creating things in general started while I was in the university. I was a beauty queen and had issues with my skin, as it tends to be quite sensitive.
I struggled to find good, natural products for my skin.
So, on my own, I decided to try and find and put together the right products that would fit me and was almost impossible to lay hands on in the market.
I did my research, travelled for expert training on handmade skincare products and the rest as they say, is history.
I must say, I ran a small fashion business at that time, so I simply sold my soaps to my customers and I got referrals from them.
As my handmade soaps became more successful, I recognized this could be an amazing opportunity for others and myself and decided to start Darlo Organics officially in 2010.
I was 25years old at the time but that didn’t deter me and I haven’t looked back since then.
How did you raise capital to start out?
I was a runway model and beauty queen. I also did a series of paid fashion shows and adverts and I was able to save up some money to start.
I didn’t start big but suffice to say, I have grown with time.
What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome?
Even though I studied estate survey in the university, I have always known that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, to cater to the needs of people, solve problems and make money while doing this.
That said, one of the major challenges I have encountered is moving from estate survey, my original field, to cosmetology.
It was difficult trying to convince people that this was what I really wanted to do and was good at it.
Starting the business and breaking even was also a challenge, but when my products got out and testimonials started rolling in, it was a huge moment for me.
I overcame these challenges through prayers, the support of my husband, persistence and determination.
Also, a good product that caters to the needs of people will always sell itself.
What has been the highlight for you so far?
(Laughing) That’s a big question. Well, My life has changed beyond recognition and I’ve been really fortunate and I’m really grateful to have had some amazing opportunities come my way.
My top two career highlights are building a manufacturing factory of my own and getting my products NAFDAC certified.
There are several skincare brands in the market today, what makes yours different?
Originality and sincerity. Also, we understand our target audience and demonstrate this by creating products relevant for our target niche; this makes it easier for our customers to connect with us.
Consistency, we lock down our brand standards and ensure that all team members are skilled at their execution.
Finally, I believe we offer more value and better products than our competitors.
Why do you say health and beauty should be more natural?
Health and beauty should be more natural and less synthetic because what you put on it or in it is what you get out of it.
Natural products are gentler, compared to synthetic ones and you tend to get less skin reactions with the former compared to the latter.
Is there any difference between handmade skincare and mass-produced ones?
Yes, very much so. Handmade skincare is moisturizing while mass produced ones are not.
Furthermore, soap manufactured for mass distribution contains synthetic ingredients that are cheaper and easier to fabricate in a lab.
Unfortunately, these artificial ingredients are disastrous for our endocrine, immune, reproductive and respiratory systems, not to mention the terrible damage they do to our skin.
Who do you look up to and what keeps you going?
It is only the grace of God, nothing more.
Many times, when I’m down and things are not going smoothly, it is only his grace that sustains me and helps me ride the storm.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in the next couple of years?
Simply put, to be the best skincare brand in the country.