For Nancy Blaq and Ashley, becoming a professional makeup artist was not the dream job and that was also the story of most individuals who currently find themselves in the beauty industry. The love and appreciation for the craft, however, caused them to learn more and with time, they began earning from it.
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Looking good is one of the priorities of most women. To some, how they look determines the kind of people and opportunities they attract and to others, their personality is all the 'looking good' they need.
There are many who are of the view that ladies who put on makeup lack confidence and is their way of hiding their insecurities. To others, putting on makeup is just a means to enhance already existing beautiful natural features.
The evolution of makeup
A publication by Medusa Makeup reports that the earliest record of makeup usage dates back to 3100-2907 BC in Egypt where unguent, a type of scented substance was used extensively by men and women to keep their skins hydrated and supple and to avoid wrinkles from the dry heat.
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The report also shared that the women in Egypt back then used to decorate their eyes by applying dark green colors to the under lid and blackening the lashes and the upper lid with kohl, which was made from antimony (a metallic element) or soot.
The cosmetic industry has since evolved and now men and women alike are fond of using makeup both to feel good and to look good.
Applying makeup on people as a profession is something that was particularly known in the western world, but as technology advanced and more and more people got access to platforms like YouTube where various tutorials could be found, individuals across other parts of the world learnt to apply makeup on themselves and as their love for the craft grew, they gradually mastered how to apply it on others.
In modern Ghana, there have been an influx of both male and female full-time professional makeup artists who have learnt the craft in diverse ways.
In a quest to throw more light on the industry, two successful Ghanaian makeup artists were interviewed by YEN.com.gh on their individual journeys to excelling in the beauty industry.
How Nancy Blaq moved from a first-class university student to a full-time makeup artist
Nancy grew up with the goal of becoming a superstar someday. This meant either turning out as an actress or a musician. She just wanted to be in the lime light.
The dream however evolved as she grew older and she finally made the decision to become a medical doctor.
She would however face a life changing moment after successfully gaining admission that would cause her to drop out of medical school in her 3rd year.
"The institution lost its accreditation in my department and I had to start all over again. I joined University of Greenwich later after the disappointment", she revealed to YEN.com.gh
Rather than give up, Nancy grabbed an opportunity that came to pursue a bachelor's degree in Business in Information Technology and she grabbed it.
"Thankfully, I enjoyed the program and ended up graduating with a first-class honours"
Ashley's switch from architecture to makeup
Like Nancy, Ashley's plan was not to become a makeup artist from the onset. Her dream was to be an Architect.
That dream was cut short when she unfortunately was not offered Architecture at the University of Ghana.
"I was given Information Studies and Communication instead but I ended up really loving it so it was a win for me"
First experience with makeup
Ashley had her first encounter with makeup after seeing her mother and sister use cosmetic products on themselves on regular occasions.
"I remember my sister and my mum used to do their own makeup and I liked it so much. So it all started from there."
Being intrigued by what she saw, Ashley began to practice with the makeup products on herself and with time, she learnt a few basics.
For Nancy Blaq, she managed to teach herself. She learnt the craft so well and a YouTube makeup tutorial video she watched one day helped her understand how well she had grasped the makeup skills.
"The first day I watched someone else apply makeup on YouTube I was shocked as to how I knew most of the things they did without learning or having the appropriate materials. At the time, I did most of the work with my bare hands", she told YEN.com.gh
Venturing into make-up artistry as a full-time job
An encounter with a teller at a bank is all it took for Nancy to venture into the beauty space on full-time basis.
"The teller at the bank approached me and asked if I could help train her after she saw the makeup I had on my face"
Getting a good feedback from a complete stranger meant a lot to her and that gave her the idea to start her business.
"I started looking for other customers and that’s when I met a friend who became my husband years later.
He introduced me to one celebrity friend of his, TOP MODEL VICTORIA MICHEALS, and when other celebrities saw my work on her, they wanted my touch for their special occasions and the calls started rolling in . That’s how I got to work with tons of celebrities both in and out of the country"
The emergence of makeup artists in Ghana
According to Nancy, many Ghanaians started venturing into the makeup around 2014 and by the following 2 years, the industry became massive in Ghana.
"I got my first recognition in the industry in 2016 , however before then makeup had started gaining grounds 2 years prior .But it became huge in 2016 and that’s when more people became proud to be called a MAKEUP ARTIST."
Proudest moments as makeup artist
Ashley delights in the fact that through what she loves doing, she has been able to help hundreds of brides feel and look good on their special day. She also prides herself in the number of students she has helped train.
"By the grace of God , I have been able to do about 200+ weddings (bridal makeup) from the beginning of my career and I've also trained more than 100 + students for makeup; professional and personal use .This means a lot me"
Nancy holds the same sentiments. Being in a position where she can impact knowledge to others is something very fulfilling to her.
"Training over a thousand students and seeing most of them do so well in their careers makes me very proud", she told YEN.com.gh.
Some of the challenges professional makeup artists face
Like any other job, making brides and individuals look good comes with some challenges. For Nancy, being constantly on call means good business but it also means standing for long hours and getting caught up in so much work that she forgets to eat sometimes.
"The round the clock run no matter the time is a lot. Once a client books you, you’ll have to go. I’ve had clients walk-in at 3:00am even if they have to pay extra you’ll need to attend to them. Also, when we have long day shoots and you’d have to be on your toes the whole time.
It’s scary how when I’m in my work element, nothing else matters not even food nor sleep till the job is all done."
For Ashley, mastering the craft is the hardest part because it requires a lot of practice especially for someone who is a professional.
" You need to put in lots of practice to be able to do the work professionally. I mean your ‘A’ game should be top notch. I won’t say it’s the easiest career choice. It requires more practice and lots of experience and patience to learn."
Advice for individuals who wish to become professional makeup artists
For up and coming makeup artists in Ghana, Nancy admonishes them to take their craft very seriously, build good networks, make their work known through effective use of social media tools and most importantly, rely on the directions of God.
"The very first thing you must do is invest in your craft. Post your work on social media , but do not dwell on likes and engagement. Rather, see it as your work gallery. Try beauty networking events and get to know more people in the industry whom you may share ideas with.
When you get that client, be ready to serve their needs, have something exciting to offer that will turn them into returning customers. Watch and pray because a good relationship with your maker will guide you and put the fruit of the spirit to work in your business life."
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