After a few years of employment in the beauty industry, Gladys Wanjiru decided to pursue a solo venture as a make-up artist.
At first, she relied on friends and referrals from happy customers. But when the pandemic hit two years ago, she tapped into the power of social media to market her business and has had an easy time attracting customers.
The 28-year-old has gained a following of 28,000 on the short-video sharing app TikTok where the Nakuru-based freelance make-up artist goes by the name of ShishDavis.
She says that employment is not for everyone. She advises that once one has gained experience and expertise in their field of interest and believes they can stand on their own, that might be the best time to plunge into entrepreneurship.
“Starting a make-up business is quite an investment and by the time I convinced myself to leave employment where I was working in the beauty industry, I knew I was taking a big risk since I had to use all my savings to purchase a decent make-up kit and my clients' list wasn’t that promising. I took the leap and I can say the gamble was worth it,” she says.
- DCI Twitter: Where suspects are charged, declared guilty online
- Social media now a battleground for votes, but...
- Five beauty business ideas you can start
- Digital platforms can be used to poison our politics
The start wasn’t that good as she hadn’t built herself a proper customer base when she quit employment.
She never bagged a single client until a month after starting. This was a client she had once attended to while still in employment.
To boost the business, she had to go the extra mile and advertise on social media platforms. She uses TikTok and Instagram, describing them as a great source of customer traffic. Content by upcoming and professional make-up artists, including tutorials, is highly popular on these apps.
“I communicate on these platforms with my potential clients for either make-up services or make-up classes. I try to keep up with the trends and post as often as I can by creating fun make-up transitions or very simple make-up tutorials just to show people it doesn’t need to be as complicated as it may seem,” she says.
Wanjiru specialises in glam or beauty make-up. Her make-up style is an almost skin-like finish, meaning it isn’t heavy or cakey. She says she likes her clients to feel light on their faces when they’re wearing make-up.
“Everyone is beautiful and make-up should be used to complement that beauty and not to serve as a mask. That’s what I believe in and that’s my motto when it comes to make-up,” she says.
The business is not without challenges, though. One of her biggest tasks is convincing a client about her charges or why they need to cater for her transportation if they prefer services at places of their convenience.
Another challenge is dealing with self-doubt as an entrepreneur.
“When someone trusts me to make them look cute, it doesn’t matter how many times I have done it before but there’s always that little voice in my head that makes me think I’ve messed up or the client may not be happy with that final look. Also, this is not a predictable line of work with business going up and down. It can be stressful but the trick is not to lose hope,” she says.
Along the way, she has learned several business lessons that can inspire upcoming entrepreneurs.
She advises on self-belief and identifying the service or good they have to offer to the market.
Passion into income
Market research is a key aspect of entrepreneurship, she adds. Passion, she says, can easily become a source of income. She advises entrepreneurs to have a backup plan in case things don’t work out.
“Before venturing into the make-up business, I knew my passion lay there and followed it. However, there were doubts. For example, I didn’t think I would be good at it or anyone would pay me to do it,” she says.
“When I was unemployed, I tried to do everything for two years other than following my passion and nothing was working. When I confronted my doubts and followed my passion, everything began falling into place,” she tells Money Maker.
She says that every entrepreneur faces their own share of challenges and sometimes she wishes she has more than one revenue stream. She is, however, adamant that she can’t return to employment.
She ploughs back all profits in business as she is focused on business growth and has future business expansion plans. “I plan to have a well-stocked make-up store that sells make-up and suits everyone’s budget because it is my belief that all beautiful ladies should be able to afford make-up. Also, I plan to establish my own beauty class where one can enrol and learn to do make-up for self-use or as a make-up artist,” she says.
She has been lucky to have worked with two make-up brands in the country and is currently in a contract with a certain make-up brand for a couple of months.
When not in business, she teaches make-up classes. She also has a YouTube channel where she posts weekly vlogs where she shares her life with her subscribers and offers make-up tips as well.