By Jacques Achille, bird
African cosmetics are attacking international brands and are seeking a big part of a growing African market. Dominique Raya hopes that his brand will gain a foothold in what is likely to become a huge market very soon.
The shelves of Dominique Raya’s cosmetics store offer an almost bewildering variety of makeup products, ranging from face powders to lipsticks, eyeshadows, compact powders, loose powders and makeup products. eyelids, eyeliners and translucent powders, all presented under the Raya brand. Cosmetics – and all based on herbal ingredients. The variety of colors offered is also suitable for all skin tone types: from light to dark skin.
“I wanted textures and colors suited to local demand and especially to customers with darker skin tones. The products are also specially adapted to our tropical climate and can withstand the sun, humidity in the air and a warmer environment, ”explained Raya, speaking to a range of products.
While her boutique and makeup studio are located in Rose-Hill, in the center of Mauritius, Raya’s cosmetic idea was born in Paris about ten years ago, while she was working there in the events and banking sector.
Now 45 years old, Raya would later choose Paris as her destination to study makeup techniques and cosmetics. During this time, she realized that most makeup products were not suitable for her skin and complexion that she inherited from her African and Indian ancestors.
“I didn’t want to have, like, a mask on my face. I wanted something more natural for myself and for girls with darker skin tones.
She also had the opportunity to prepare models who worked in different fashion events – and saw an opportunity.
“The products available were not always suitable for African and island skin. The makeup results didn’t show the models in their best light.
Her belief was also that makeup “shouldn’t change someone’s nature. It is meant to highlight the characteristics of those who use it and make them naturally more beautiful without changing who they are.
After developing skin problems using products available in France, she decided to visit one of the manufacturers. Here she learned even more about cosmetics and decided it was time to design her own brand, to specifications that would suit the Mauritian and African markets.
“I also chose an ethical product, made from ingredients that had never been tested on animals and that are 90% natural,” she said.
Raya Cosmetics was the result. Upon returning to Mauritius in 2015, Raya decided to compete with international brands in terms of quality, affordability and value for money.
“Unlike international brands who spend a lot on packaging and marketing, I decided to adopt a classy but simple presentation to avoid unnecessary expenses in order to keep prices low and give customers the possibility of having access to quality brands. at a reasonable price, ”she explained.
In 2017, she opened her first boutique in the northern tourist village of Trou aux Biches. Presenting herself as the main brand ambassador, she helped Raya Cosmetics establish itself as an alternative to international brands on the island. It also sponsored various national events to ensure better visibility – and these efforts quickly paid off.
Not only has Raya Cosmetics become popular among Mauritians but many foreigners have also noticed the brand. Tourists from nearby hotels walk to his studio every day, while a large number of many Mauritian expats have embraced the brand as well. Claudio Morris, a South African who has lived in Mauritius for almost 10 years, is one. She also became an ambassador for the brand.
“Other cosmetic brands I have used here in Mauritius simply flake off my face and leave my skin oily and very poorly covered in the severe humidity. A flawless appearance is a top priority for me and Raya Cosmetiques never disappoints, ”Morris explained.
The brand’s notoriety continues to grow and the products are now displayed in more than twenty points of sale in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
Although her expansion plans involve increasing her workforce, Raya also has her eye on mainland Africa. “My wish is to be able to have my products manufactured on the continent itself,” she said.
The youngest of 10 children from a modest family in Mauritius, Raya believes that hard work and patience pays off.
“My mother worked as a maid for the rich. She raised her children on her own after the death of my father, who was a mechanic. It made me realize that hard work always pays off and that is the only way to get ahead in life, ”she said.
After college, she worked in the tourism industry where, in five-star hotels, she learned the concept of taking care of her personal image – and her body.
“It was then that I developed a real passion for makeup.
Later she moved into the banking industry and, thanks to her contacts, had the opportunity to travel and work in different countries. At the same time, she joined the world of events and helped bring international artists such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Wailers, Gentlemen, Morgan Heritage and many others to Mauritius.
“Finally, I decided to move on to something that I would like even more. So I decided to go to Paris to study makeup.