Article by Tracy Ninsiima:
My business idea is to open up the first cosmetics concept store in Uganda called Blair’s. A concept store is a store “that sells a carefully curated and unique selection of products that connect to an overarching theme.” Concept stores are meant to be inspirational with handpicked items from various brands and designers, and usually appeal to a specific target audience.
As a beauty fanatic and a collector of cosmetics, I often find it disheartening when I go shopping for beauty supplies in Uganda and the only items to be found are exorbitantly priced mainstream products. In Uganda, the cosmetics market is on the rise, however the supply is still very low – a problem which pushes the prices up. The products that aren't stocked here have to be bought online at an unnecessarily high cost, usually attributed to very high shipping costs. Ugandans are left to either pay the high price, or ask a friend who is travelling to buy on their behalf. It’s a broken, expensive system that is ready for change.
Blair’s would start off by stocking a small number of sought out product categories such as foundations, concealers, eyeshadows, face palettes and lipsticks as well as fragrances. The products would be a mixture of up and coming African beauty and cosmetics brands as well as carefully selected international brands like Nyx Cosmetics and L.A Girl Cosmetics. This would allow us to bring in products that cater to our target customers’ needs and skin types, whilst educating them in both African and International brands.
Although the beauty market in Uganda is increasingly becoming aware of the beauty world, it’s not at the level where it could support a store like Sephora; a store with various product categories and many stock keeping units. Furthermore, Uganda doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity at the moment to manufacture cosmetic lines and products to support the market.
In spite of this situation and other challenges of logistics and pricing, I believe the market can support a concept store and I hope to prove this in the near future.