Black is bold and extremely beautiful. It is the colour of strength, intelligence and determination. I love being black and so does Grace Amey-Obeng, a medical aesthetician and therapist.
Grace was born in La Cote d’Ivoire in 1957; she had her Secondary education at Keta Secondary School in the Volta Region of Ghana where she obtained her Ordinary and Advanced level certificates.
Her love for the black skin and insatiable quest for knowledge in beauty therapy drove her to Croydon College in the United Kingdom for her Foundation and Intermediate programmes (Level 1 & 2) in Beauty Therapy. She then proceeded to the Profile Aesthetic Institute also in the UK for her Advanced Programme (Level 3).
In the United States of America, Grace studied Paramedic Aesthetics at the Aesthetic Research Institute, California and proceeded again to the Newlands Hospital in the UK where she obtained her certificate in Derma Brasion, Electrolysis and Lymphatic Drainage. She later went on to the Sports Science Institute in South Africa where she undertook a course in Surgical Needling (Collagen & Botox Injection) .She is also a regular participant at the Alan Roy Aesthetics Institute and Jast International Science College both in South Africa where she has attended and still attends annual refresher courses. A determined and purpose driven lady, I would say.
The alarming rate at which a huge number of Africans seek the ‘oyibo’* skin colour (although some end up the colour of either a loaf of half baked bread or a badly burnt one) propelled Grace to seek a possible and lasting solution. According to her, there was “a lot of skin-bleaching going on,” a trend she found not only repugnant but also common in much of Africa. In her words, “the women in the market had destroyed their skin with all this kind of beauty products, bleaching products, and so I saw the need for assisting them to reverse the process because otherwise it would become a social problem.”
After her years of thorough research and training, the first class entrepreneur returned to Ghana and set up her first beauty clinic. This was not an easy venture for Grace who at the time lacked the funds and resources needed to launch the project, but with determination, perseverance and the support from her family, she pulled through. The business she started years ago with as low as $100 (£63) now has an annual turnover of between $8m and $10m.
Her FC Group of Companies – which includes a beauty clinic, a firm that supplies salon equipment and cosmetics, and a college, now has eight branches in Ghana and exports to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
This woman of excellence has won dozens of accolades and industry awards for her skincare beauty products and marketing. Like The CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year in 2002; the GAWE awards by the Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs in November 2003; the Nobles International Award presented by West Africa Nobles Forum in November 2003, the Silver Award for Technology, the Industrial Pinnacle Awards in 2004 and the ACE Awards in 2004.
She is reckoned to be the first Ghanaian Beauty Specialist to come out with her own new range of make-up and colour cosmetics products specifically formulated for the woman of colour, and which is enjoying international patronage in Africa and Europe.
One of the things that make her particularly proud is her Forever Clair ( FC) Beauty College which, since its opening in 1999, has trained more than 5,000 young people, mostly women. According to her statement in the BBC’s series African Dream, “It’s like a family bond. I’m so proud that they have managed to go through the programme.”
Equally important to her is her role as a medical aesthetician. Nothing gives her more joy than seeing a skin condition resolved, “I’m so happy that God has given me that talent and that touch to heal people,” she said.
Grace has now become a regular columnist for a host of local and international newspapers and magazines like ThisDay fashion magazine in Nigeria. She also has a host of TV and radio appearances to her credit.
Grace is the founder of the Grace Amey- Obeng foundation, a not-for-profit organization established to aid less privileged women. She says “The joy of putting smiles on the faces of people that this business offers, that’s what makes me want to do it forever; Women leaders should offer a helping hand to less fortunate women, encourage them and share expertise.”
To a good number of people, her brand name; Forever Clair has become a controversial issue, but it is in no way a worry for the flourishing entrepreneur; she insists that “Clair” refers to “light, hope and strength”, not skin colour. “Light shows the way, it’s not about complexion, it’s about the heart.”
*oyibo- Vernacular for ‘white man’