Make-up artist Suzie Wokabi makes Sh45m from sale of beauty firm


  • Mumbai-based Godrej in February this year took a 75 per cent stake in Canon Chemicals — makers of Valon petroleum jelly — for an undisclosed amount.

Make-up artist Suzie Wokabi raked in Sh45 million from the sale of her firm Suzie Beauty to Roto tanks maker Flame Tree, highlighting the lucrativeness of Kenya’s cosmetics industry.

Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Flame Tree Group, which completed buyout of Suzie Beauty early this year, has for the first time disclosed the value of the deal in its latest annual report.

Ms Wokabi launched her cosmetics start up in 2009, positioning Suzie Beauty to produce a range of products targeting African women. The Kenyan beauty brand was propelled to global fame after Oscar award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o publicly announced that she was wearing a Suzie Beauty lipstick during a TV interview on the Queen Latifah Show.

Her product line included facial cosmetics, including foundation, concealer, eye-shadow and liner, mascara, lip-gloss, blush, lipstick, powder and a full line of applicator brushes.

“The group also acquired a brand in Kenya by the name of ‘Suzie Beauty’ and inventories for Sh45 million subsequent to the year end,” said Heril Bangera, Flame Tree chief executive.

Other recent deals in the cosmetics and beauty industry includes French firm L’Oreal’s April 2013 acquisition of Nice & Lovely maker Interconsumer Products in a deal estimated at Sh3 billion.

Canon Chemicals

Mumbai-based Godrej in February this year took a 75 per cent stake in Canon Chemicals — makers of Valon petroleum jelly — for an undisclosed amount.

The price tag for the Suzie Beauty acquisition makes up a quarter of Flame Tree’s full year profit for 2015. Mr Bangera declined to reveal how the deal was financed — whether it was debt, cash from reserves, share swap or a mix.

Ms Wokabi will also be entitled to royalties at an undisclosed rate, and was also hired as chief creative director and brand ambassador at Flame Tree.

The wholly owned beauty subsidiary plans to introduce a new skin care line which will include moisturisers, cleansers as well as other facial products.

She had in an earlier interview with Business Daily revealed that Suzie Beauty grossed sales of Sh15 million in 2013 and Sh12 million a year earlier.
The entrepreneur started the company with Sh6 million capital from two chamas and a Sh10 million credit line from Chase Bank.

The company’s first year of existence was spent on research and development of the product line, the second year on product testing while the third year was spent on fundraising, hence registered first revenue in 2012.

Ms Wokabi started her cosmetics journey in New York where she trained at MAC Cosmetics, and also holds a certificate in media make-up from Los Angeles-based Award Studio.

She also holds a bachelors degree in International Relations from United States International University – San Diego.