In The Life Of Dija Ayodele

10 Jul 2020

The aesthetician and founder of Black Skin Directory tells us about life outside of lockdown

I work best in the mornings…

Getting up between half four and five means the house is quiet! The children are still asleep, so I can sneak off downstairs and get started. I’ll have a lemon tea first thing, before starting my marathon of cups of coffee throughout the day!

The house then wakes about 6:15am, so it’s time to get everyone ready and drop my daughter to school and son to nursery. I’ll see my personal trainer twice a week after drop-offs, doing mainly weight training. As much as I’d love a big fry up, a protein-based breakfast will follow!

I work in my clinic, West Room Aesthetics in Maida Vale, three days a week, while the other days are spent working from home on admin and future plans for both the clinic and Black Skin Directory (BSD). On the days I’m home, mornings are filled with liaising with clients and virtual consultations – I do a lot of hand holding to reassure those who’ve never had skin treatments before. I mainly treat women of colour, usually aged between 25 and 45, with most suffering from acne or hyperpigmentation.

When I’m in clinic, about 50% of my time is dedicated to consultations – lots of people just want to talk about their skin and purchase products. It’s worth taking this time with clients as 64% of all my consultations turn into long-term treatment plans. We only offer medical-grade skincare, such as NeoStrata or Skinbetter Science, and our most popular procedures are microneedling and chemical peels. I get so much satisfaction from seeing people achieve their skin goals.

After lunch…

It’s another chunk of work until it’s time to pick the kids up. At the moment I’m working on a really exciting project for BSD, alongside Glamour magazine! The festival-style event will feature lots of speakers and brands, educating black consumers on how best to take care of their skin.

I set up BSD around two and a half years ago to connect people of colour to practitioners who can help them. While it started as a consumer platform, it’s evolved into educating practitioners too and has won the Aesthetics Award for Professional Initiative of the Year two years in a row!

We now have clinics listed on our website, allowing consumers to find appropriately-qualified and experienced practitioners to treat their skin type. Unless you’re a dermatologist, many medical professionals don’t get much training on skin, so really value what we offer and how it can help them reach a wider audience. Through BSD, we also offer guidance on brand positioning for treating black skin. Most clinics and companies have really good intentions, but are wary of getting their messaging wrong. We’re glad we are able to support by sharing feedback and making tweaks here and there!

Evenings are spent…

Doing work that doesn’t need my brain engaged! After putting the children to bed, I’m back at my desk for two to three hours. In this time I do a lot of social media and content planning for the clinic and BSD. Throughout July I’ll be hosting Instagram Lives with BSD members to allow consumers to get to know them and find out about what’s available. As well as the usual treatments, we’ll be advising on dermatologic conditions of the scalp and managing children’s skin concerns.

Running our events and communications takes a lot work; sometimes I wish I could just focus on my clinic, but then I’ll receive an email from someone saying they’ve just discovered BSD and how much they appreciate it. Many have told me that they feel like the content is written just for them, which makes me so proud and encourages me to keep going!

The entrepreneur in me reminds myself that there is a huge market for black skincare and if practitioners realise that, they can capitalise on it too. They will meet patients who are truly appreciative, as they’ve never had this personalised advice and care available to them before. Not only is that a good thing for practitioners, but for society as a whole.

What are you reading at the moment?

Do Open: How a simple email newsletter can transform your business by David Hieatt. We’ve recently updated our clinic branding, so are planning to revamp our communications as well and this is really helping with ideas! Newsletters are a free way of getting your info out and helps people get to know you. I enjoy writing content and find it so valuable for client engagement!

Is there anything you would change about your working week?

Quality time with family. When lockdown first came into force, it was so nice to sit on the sofa and watch TV with my husband – which I never normally do! I love my work and tend to keep going until I’m told to stop, but I know it’s important to balance it with my personal life.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Explore! Growing up black, you’re told you have to work twice as hard, so I didn’t really get the opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities that weren’t related to improving grades. Now, I change my daughter’s clubs on a regular basis so she has exposure to many different types of people and experiences.

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