Entrepreneurs the world over say the key to founding a business is solving your own problems, especially in a sector that doesn’t serve you or your problems well. Tomi Gbeleyi is a prime example, growing a global direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand based in Toronto, a city with a very small DTC startup ecosystem.
MFMG now sells globally and has been featured in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Flare, and Buzzfeed, among others. Gbeleyi grew the MFMG Instagram account from nothing to over 165,000 followers. She built the company to $10k a month in sales when we first met in mid-2018 (they now keep revenue numbers private, but Gbeleyi says their targets are aggressive and revenues are far up from when we met).
Oh, and she did it completely alone until recently (much like LUS Brands founder Sahar Saidi). Not a bad start for a woman who didn’t originally want to start a makeup business.
She just wanted to be a model
“The same day I got my admission letter to come to school in Canada – I’m Nigerian – I also got into a pretty big model search back home called Elite Model Search.”
Gbeleyi says her Nigerian parents “were like, uh… no. You are going to school.” So that was that and she went to school in New Brunswick. But she kept her passion for modeling, a “bug” she calls it, and modeled while she was a student.
She’d do hair and makeup shoots, but said she always felt “like an outsider”.