The longevity of a career in beauty

The longevity of a career in beauty

Observed from the Scriptures, we were all created with a purpose in this life. Your job is to identify that purpose and pursue it with all the vigor and passion if you are to attain happiness, satisfaction, reward, accomplishment and contribute to this world knowing that life is limited.

This basic truism has informed my career longevity, which anyone can attain in their life time. Once you find your Purpose in life make it a PLAN A and strive to achieve it. Having PLANS B, C, or D often dilute the commitment and cut career longevity short.

I have been in the Beauty Industry for 43 years and still counting. How did I get here? Hmmm, such an interesting story.

Originally, I had chosen a career in Banking, and after graduating with bachelor’s degree in Finance in the U.S., I went into banking with then the largest bank in Chicago. All that time though, I knew my purpose in life was in Entrepreneurship. After 2 years, I moved on to a second bank which was known for its Management Training Program. Whilst there, I enrolled at one of the top five Universities in the U.S. (Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management) to pursue a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business in 1975. It was at that time that I met my future business partner, Al Washington, and began formulating our business ideas. We used to carry what we called “Ideas Note Book” and documented so many business ideas we wanted to consider.

After graduating with Master’s degree, I moved on to yet another bank – a French bank called Credit Lyonnais – as the Corporate Credit Manager in 1977. By then, through the process of elimination and with support and advice from a seasoned businessman who was a client of the bank where my partner worked, we chose the Beauty Industry, specifically, Hair Care Products.

Our research showed tremendous opportunities both in the USA and Africa, thus we coined the name AFAM Concept, Inc in 1977 as our Company name. AFAM meaning African American Concept to create a mutual benefit company for the people of Africa and African Americans. In 1979, I quit my job as a Banker to pursue my full-time entrepreneurial career. The brand we created was Vitale and Elentee. The rest they say is history.

Career Longevity in a Nutshell:

Let me now share some adjectives and truisms that in essence will guide your longevity in your chosen career:

  • Inner strength is a must.
  • Prepare for ups and downs.
  • Develop your personality and character.
  • Accept failure as part of the process for longevity.
  • It is all risky – No guarantees in sight but hope and faith.
  • Fearless needed to become limitless in life.
  • Be nimble – Trends evolve and be part of it.
  • Stay educated and informed – be savvy.
  • Integrity cannot be taught or bought.
  • Believe in Beauty or your chosen field.
  • Innovate or die.
  • Quality always triumphs.
  • Customers always come first.
  • If your take care of customers, sales and profits will follow.
  • Invest in marketing and promotion.
  • Learn from mistakes quickly and move on.
  • Listen more, speak less, react less and observe more.
  • Know what you bring to the industry.
  • Entrepreneurship is a long and lonely journey.
  • Delayed gratification is important.
  • Do not be afraid of debt.
  • Do the work first before using money, and use money wisely.
  • Hard work, perseverance, commitment and enthusiasm are gems.
  • Self-discipline is essential.
  • For healthy habits, eat right and exercise.
  • Spirituality and positive affirmations are essential.
  • Rejections and failures are not final.
  • Dream big and visualize.
  • Everything has a beginning and an end.
  • Let your work be your play and your play be your work.
  • Be calm and accept the things you can’t change; have the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Pay your bills.
  • Exercise humility and patience.
  • Cut your coat according to your size.
  • Be truthful with your bankers and creditors.
  • Balance family with work.
  • Competition is good for you; it makes you better.
  • The 80/20 rule applies in all things.
  • For marketing, less is more.
  • Nothing or no one is born big.
  • Pursue the road less traveled.
  • Create new brands when necessary.
  • Be punctual with your time in all things.
  • Master time management and learn to multi-task.
  • In advertising repetition is the key.
  • In branding, Positioning Statement is a must.
  • Use 7 words or less to describe your benefit.
  • Do all you can while you can.
  • Read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.
  • “Ask”: If you don’t ask you don’t get.
  • Ideas are the most important currency you need.

How I created longevity in my Beauty Care career

Having settled on my purpose in life in the Beauty Industry as in Hair Care, making people look and feel good became the objective. From the time of Cleopatra to modern days, ladies have always adorned their hair with different ornaments and even used henna as a hair color to give it a different appearance. So not only is the Hair Care Industry timeless, it is also dynamic and exciting, thus the potential for growth and wealth are always there.

I then have to apply all the business principles I have learned in research, education, career as a banker, chemistry from the high school days in Ghana, discipline and success in Athletics and the willingness to seek counsel and directions of successful older people in life and in our industry to guide us became the first step.

I have had this longevity based on our beginning philosophy of our approach to the industry. We decided to create Quality Perception with all our products. We strongly believed in INNOVATION and becoming a trend setter in new products introduction. We adopted NEW CONCEPTS and SYSTEMS APPROACH to hair care.

Our Vision

Our company Vision was defined as:

“To be a preeminent company in Africa in the hair care and beauty aids industry; recognized for Quality, Innovative and Timely products; supported by advanced research in Science and Natural ingredients, New Concepts, Systems approach and product utility; and focused on responsible service to hairdressers and customers in the global environment”.

This Vision has driven our longevity in the industry. From the USA, where I started, we were the first to introduce:

  1. Never Greasy Concept in Hair Care.
  2. MOISTURE Retention approach to Heat Styling & Blow drying.
  3. Inner care Technology in the Hair relaxing techniques.
  4. Healthy Scalp approach in hair care.
  5. Transformation and Natural hair to the straight look without using chemical Relaxers.

After 22 years with Vitale and Elentee brands in the USA and taking it International, we sold our company and I returned to Ghana to establish the MVP (Most Valuable Product) brand.

Our firsts in Ghana

In terms of hair products, we were the first to introduce these products in Ghana:

  1. Leave-In Conditioners, as we know it today in Ghana
  2. All the three different chemicals you can use to relax the hair in Sodium, Lithium and Calcium.
  3. Chelating Neutralizing Shampoo in Kit Relaxers – to eliminate dryness.
  4. Hair Polisher – for shine and humidity control
  5. Foaming Protein Conditioner – to stop hair breakage and thinning.
  6. Vitalizer Positive Conditioner – to internally condition the hair during the chemical process.
  7. Styling Spritz to hold finished styles in place.
  8. Switch – go natural to straight chemical free.

Additionally, we started and expanded hands – on training, workshop, seminars and beauty biazzars for the hairdressers across Ghana. Over the years we have trained over 50,000 hairdressers nationwide.

To date most people, believe MVP is a foreign brand because of our quality and packaging.

The reality is when you set out to create a global brand, you increase your chances of longevity tremendously. As I have said, “Do all you can while you can” and also “Learn to multi-task”.

In the course of my long journey in the Beauty industry, I have also had the opportunity to serve as the Chairman of the Ghana Athletics Association; Board Chairman of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA); Board Chairman of a Mutual Funds Financial Company; Board member of  various Companies including Printing and Packaging House; Resort and Boutique  hotels, and Sector Chairman of AGI’s Cosmetics and Toiletries Industry.

Furthermore, I was also honored with the Nation’s highest Civilian award, ORDER OF THE      VOLTA – MEMBER IN 2008.

Lessons learned, “Keep busy and your life will be full”.


In the final analysis, you too can do this and have longevity in your career. Let me with the following story: “A person not deterred by time”

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester, we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed, she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success.

You have to laugh and find humor every day.

You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything, I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end, Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died – peacefully, in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example: that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

Have a great life ahead.

The writer CEO, Slid Industries, Ltd,Makers of MVP brands.


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