As the founder of Suzie Beauty, Kenya’s first make-up brand, Suzie Wokabi is more than just a make-up artist; she is a pioneer of the make-up industry in Kenya. As her work in the Kenyan make-up industry continues to flourish, her greatest motivators include her love for beauty and Africa.
Although Wakobi has always had a love for fashion and beauty, she discovered her passion for make-up when she graduated college in the United States and started working with Clinique. “With their limited make-up tools, I still excelled and wanted to pursue it further,” Suzie explains. From Clinique, the International relations graduate turned make-up artist, Suzie Wokabi explored different jobs in New York, from working at a designer eyewear showroom to working with photographers and models, though her first real paid job was for a hair styling DVD. “Where I started out in New York, it’s a very cut throat industry. Getting a free job was even difficult! So I had to hold a full time pay-the-bills job (fortunately still within the fashion industry) as I hustled in the make-up world,” Wokabi adds.
Eventually, in 2007, Wokabi moved back to Kenya. In 2008, she got to work with MNet Idols (East & Central Africa), which to this day remains one of her all time favorite experience. “It was a very exciting show, and an amazingly well-organized production, [which is] rare to find [and] it paid well too!” Wakobi admits.
As an established make-up artist, with a prosperous brand, Wakobi relishes in the creativity of being an a make-up artist and the transformation that comes out of a makeover. Her make-up style is very clean and pretty, her aim being to create a look that is as natural as possible. For her, she defines a make-up artist as someone who understands the art of make-up and creates beauty using appropriate products. In fact, her top five favorite make-up tools include a complete brush set, a translucent powder, a concealer, tweezers, and mascara.
Despite her deep passion for make-up, presently Suzie functions more as a businesswoman, a “BeautyPreneur” so to say than a make-up artist. This is not a move she regrets in any way, Suzie Beauty is a fully fledged business which allows her to produce her own products. [bctt tweet=””I believe in next levels, I would not have been happy unless I transitioned this way,””] she confesses.
Change is important in any profession, there needs to be some sort of advancement and initiative; Suzie is a big believer in that. In actuality, one of her favorite make-up artists is Bobbi Brown because her story resonates with hers. Like Suzie, Brown is a make-up artist who found a gap in the cosmetics market and started her own brand. However, advancement is not merely about brand growth or initiative, but also about respect, quality and integrity, which is also why Koby, her number one protégé, is one of her favorite make-up artists in Kenya, because to her, he embodies these characteristics. “He does amazing work, is full of integrity and is a really good person. He will reach the stars and higher,” she professes.
Suzie Wokabi is an inspiration to many make-up artists, especially in Africa where the field is still growing. She is an example of perseverance and passion, illustrating that being a make-up artist can mean a lot and open up a lot of avenues for change, revenue and creativity.
However, as she develops as a make-up artist, is the local make-up industry growing with her? Find out what she thinks in the second part of this interview.
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