In the pursuit of her dream, Muthoni Njoba quit her cooperate job to follow her passion – to be makeup artiste. That didn’t go well with her family and friends and in spite of years of little signs of success – through sacrifice, hard work, and persistence – Njoba kept her eyes on the goal.

Njoba, who recently landed a lucrative deal as the lead brand ambassador for Maybelline, is now one of Kenya’s best makeup artistes.

She says making her brand has not been all milk and honey as she had lost a lot in bid to be where she is right now. The 31-year-old mother of one says she has worked with almost all Kenyan celebrities and has traveled far and wide to do makeup.

“I moved back home in 2006 after completing a communications degree in England. I interned for a while I did makeup as a side job. It wasn’t very sustainable to be a makeup artiste then,” recalls Njoba.

Njoba later got a job at Centum Investments where she worked for two years as she studied Human Resource Management.

“I would see my boss come to work with so much passion for what he does and I thought, I have 0.100 passion for what I did. So that’s when I opted out,” says Njoba.

“It was easier to tell my friends and family I got fired so that they didn’t think I was a quitter. Can you imagine quitting your job to do makeup? But it’s the best decision I ever made in my life. When I left my corporate job, all I wanted to do was makeup; there was no plan or even a strategy. The first thing I did was to invest in a good website because we are in an age where everything is online.”

Muthoni Njoba

Njoba put a lot of emphasis on quality from the beginning, engaging a professional photographer.

“I tell makeup artistes, don’t do great makeup and then take a picture with your phone, and then that’s what you’re putting on your website. Presentation is key…being a makeup artiste is all about the visuals, that’s what I did with my first three months after quitting my job.”

She recalls the rough times, at the beginning, when she had to do free jobs for almost one and a half years.

“I never wanted to accept any less than what I wanted to price myself. So I preferred to do it for free so that I could showcase my art and put it on my portfolio. I wanted to show that I have worked on this person or this corporation and when they like it, they will call back and from there, I can price myself.”

Njoba admits that the time and effort she invested on perfecting her product afforded her the luxury of charging a premium for her services. Doing free jobs meant not having salary for a long time, which meant cutting costs and changing her luxurious lifestyle.

“My father worked so hard to provide the best life, so when I left to do makeup, things changed; my family turned the other way, my friends disowned me because I could not afford the luxurious life anymore. I remember I lived in a house with no running water for two years I couldn’t afford a nanny for seven months. I couldn’t afford even good clothes. One time, my Auntie took my son somewhere and she said she was embarrassed to be with him because he looked like a mess with his clothes,” Njoba narrates.

“There were times I used to sit and look at my son and cry and wonder, ‘what I’m I doing with my life?’ But at the core, I knew makeup is what I enjoyed with every part of my soul. I financed my entire business with any money I made I would put it back into the business so a life of luxury was not an option…a product, if it’s the website, if it’s developing social network pages, I only used money for the basics.”

Njoba says her free jobs opened up many opportunities for her than she could imagine pointing out that her passion kept her going even  during those tough times.

“If you are passionate about something, opportunities will come that you can’t even explain. Everything that I lost I regained in double portions, “she says blissfully.

“It’s been five years in the industry. I have done jobs in, Zanzibar, Juba, Dubai, former chair lady of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, during her 50th birthday. It has opened up opportunities for me to travel,” She adds.

She urges budding entrepreneurs to always be confident in themselves and their ideas and cautions budding entrepreneurs to avoid burning bridges even when people don’t really get what you are trying to do.

“Be confident in yourself because if you are not, you make partnerships that are not right and for the wrong reasons, I have burnt my fingers many times through partnerships and I believe it was lack of confidence, but I should have just seen it from the beginning.”

“I was 25 by the time I started my business, angry at the world because very few people understood what it is I was trying to do. I burnt a few bridges here and there and the networking is ruined when you burn bridges,” she advises.

And how is the makeup industry in Kenya?

“The business is thriving a while ago there were just three makeup artistes and now the industry is flooded. People are now appreciating what the industry has to offer; locally and internationally, there is great opportunity in the industry.”

Article written by: Kennedy Kang’ethe

Article adopted from:

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