Guest Blogger: Makeup Artist Nzale Katama
- Why a makeup artist?
Well, this is a hard yet simple question. Growing up I was a tomboy- makeup was for little girls who lived in a fantasy world 😅. But then I grew up, and the journey of me embracing my femininity was a struggle. I had a DJ Shiti moment of ‘nitaambia nini watu sasa’ 😅 because I felt like I was a ‘gangster’ turning ‘soft’ and didn’t know how to explain that to my friends, especially since most of them were guys.
My first attempt at embracing my femininity was a makeup experiment. I tried grooming my brows and ended up shaving 3/4 of my brow 😅😂😂. It was a loooong dayyyy. I had to cover it up with a plaster until the hairs grew back. The thought of explaining to my friends why I barely had a brow on one side was terrifying. They would laugh at me till my last breath. This happened in primary school and told myself not to embarrass myself like that in high school.
As soon as I finished high-school I had time to entertain my femininity. I promised myself to get to campus as a lady and not a “jack lady.” It was in a different city meaning a different set of people. In short, I had an opportunity to start over without the need to explain my change of style to my friends.
My dream was a Bachelor’s Degree in Business IT but was advised to take Finance instead. During my four years in campus my interest changed and I started desiring farming and, I would sketch images from time to time even made paintings but my heart was in agribusiness. When I graduated I got a job as an accountant at a company that provided outsourced services for 6 months but I wasn’t satisfied so I quit my job to clear my thoughts. While I was at it, my sister suggested I do something of which makeup popped in my head. Once I opened that door, I have never looked back. I am still thinking about farming though! 😁
- How did the journey to mastering your craft begin and how has it been so far?
It began after quitting my accounting job, and in the midst of finding what sparks my imagination, I found makeup. I used to sketch and paint so if I even thought of pursuing art. Fine arts would be it, but I guess it’s still the same; the only change is my canvas. I always do makeup on myself, sometimes on models. That’s how I have mastered my craft- constantly practicing. So far the journey has been humbling, exciting and most of all educative.
- Who are your typical clients?
I take in all clients that want makeup services. I haven’t closed myself to doing editorial /bridal /videography /production makeup artist. I don’t like confining myself in a box so I take all clients and I target middle to high-income earners.
- What’s the one thing you wish Kenyans knew about makeup artists in Kenya?
We are females, and we are humans. Sometimes we have bad days, but due to the respect we have for our profession, we let you talk down on us. “When they go low we go high” that’s our mantra. Okay, okay it’s my mantra borrowed from the lovely Michelle Obama. We also want to go to Dubai for the holidays aah aah so now pay us what we ask for and don’t bargain. It’s like stealing from the blind.
- What’s the one challenge that you feel you continually need to overcome?
As an artist, I am passionate about the art, so if someone comes to me with a project that excites me but has 0 to low budget, I usually find it so hard to decide whether to take them up or not. Normally what I do is check it against my goals. If it’s a project that will give me a good portfolio I just do it under the disguise of “marketing expenses.” I have to use a technical term for my financial advisor to understand this move!
- Apart from a beat face, what’s the most rewarding part of your craft?
Seeing my clients smile and transform from a shy ladies into confident and fierce women. Oh and the feedback. I literally live on the feedback. Good or bad because, that way, I get to work on a certain area and perfect the whole art.
- How long have you been doing this for?
This is my second year.
- What moves do you hope to make in the next ten years?
Oh my! The intention is to finally open a beauty parlour, and ten years from now Nzale Katama will be an international brand, so help me Sweet Jesus.
- Any advice for your younger self?
Hmm… believe in yourself and all the crazy ideas you harbor in your head. Everything is possible and achievable with the right motivating factor.
- Parting shot.
Believe in your brand and start with what you have NOW. Don’t wait to get that fancy camera for you to start taking a keen interest in photography. I forgot to mention this, when I was in my third year in campus I bought these makeup brushes from Morphe Brush Set of 18 brushes at Ksh10,000 😅. I intentionally did that so that I can let myself know that whatever I end up doing after campus I have to find my way to makeup. That Ksh10, 000 was a commitment for me and I have recovered it. I can never get brushes worth Ksh10,000 because now I have learnt I can get a good brush set for Ksh2,500. #bougieonabudget 😅
When asked about her best works …
Every look I create has a story behind it and it’s all based on my feelings at that particular moment in time. So for my best work I picked this particular model cause how you work with dark toned ladies is different and the difference comes in when sculpting the face. For the contouring and highlighting when it comes to dark tones, you avoid contouring and only capitalize on highlighting the face. This way you end up getting a realistic sculpted face as opposed to contouring. If you contour a dark toned face you will have to use very dark shades almost black which might give you a bad finishing. I find it a gamble contouring a darker toned face.