Video report: Ethnic make-up made in France
Fatou Sarr Diallo is the founder of True Colors, one of the leading French-made ethnic make-up brands. In part three in a five-part series of radio and video reports profiling people making a difference in deprived neighbourhoods here in France, she discusses looking for markets in Europe and Africa.
Up until five years ago the ethnic French make-up industry here was dominated by American brands like Iman Cosmetics, Dark & Lovely and Fashion Fair. But now there are several French-made ethnic make up brands. Big names such as l’Oréal have entered the market and so ethnic make-up is now available in major department stores nationwide.
There are also a couple of brands started by French women of African origin that are adding their own sparkle to the cosmetics market. Fatou Sarr Diallo is one of those women. For her entering the French and African markets simultaneously is what made her brand, True Colors, a viable business.
“I started to distribute my brand in the same time in Europe as in Africa because I know the potential there is in Africa,” said Diallo Sarr.
This new generation of women entrepreneurs comes from the daughters of immigrants who came to France to work in factories or other low-paying jobs. Fatou belongs to the educated middle classes that are demanding more from French society than her parents did. They have greater spending power and more refined tastes that are not always met by the big French retailers
Aurore Attey is the owner of Nayenka, a boutique selling high-end ethnic cosmetics in central Paris.
“Fatou exploited a gap in the market that traditional retailers didn’t know existed,” she explains “We expected more than the previous generation because we live here so it is our right to have decent products.”
But away from the glamour and glitz of the cosmetics industry, Fatou mentors young women from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to develop business plans.
“I grew up in Mantes-la-Jolie where most people in my part of the town were African immigrants,” explained Sarr Diallo.“We didn’t have anyone to explain to us how to get into business or university, so a lot of people grew up without hope.”