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Niwensiima: Putting a glow on the stars

Betty Niwesiima

Make-up artist: Betty Niwensiima is only 24 years old but she is the brain behind Real Best Glam in Mbarara city. Passion and childhood admiration of makeup on artistes inspired her to give up on her teaching profession. Rajab Mukombozi caught up with her.

Who is Betty Niwensiima?
I am 24 years old, born in Magyera, Rugarama in Ntungamo District. I am the second born of seven. I went to Dawanguvu Primary School in Nyarushanje, Rukungiri District, Bwongyera Girls and Rubaare Secondary School and Kyambogo University where I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Arts with Education (literature/English). I also went to Mwangi School of Beauty.

What inspired you to become a makeup artiste?
I grew up loving make-up. At school, I used to have powder, steal part of my mother’s lip balm because I could not afford to buy some of these. I remember in S.4, our classroom got cracks that exposed one of the bricks and I would extract this reddish ash from the brick and chalk to use as makeup. As I grew up, I used to see how nice celebrities looked after applying makeup and I was personally attracted to Rema Namakula.

When and how did you start?
I started immediately after my university in 2018. I pursued a two-week course on make-up in Kampala because I had no money to go for a full scale course; here I acquired a few but not enough skills. Then in 2019 I went to Mwangi School of Beauty. The start wasn’t easy; I had no money. I remember borrowing Shs200,000 from my father and I had to hustle borrowing another Shs150,000 from a friend. But I got into real business last year when I worked on 10 graduates at Kyambogo University. I earned Shs200,000. It was little but I was very excited and motivated.

Who are some of the artistes you have worked with and who are your other clients?
I have worked with Omega 256, Nimrose in his video Akateteyi and Emily Kikazi in her video Hinduramu. I also work at weddings, introductions, graduations, photoshoots and casual makeup.
What has been your experience working with artistes?
It has been a great experience because whenever I post them on my status, people compliment and trust me with their makeup needs. Artistes have helped me in building a client base.

What keeps you moving?
I am a patient person, I know today’s faults can be tomorrow’s success. Also I have the support from friends.

How did your parents react when you chose to become a make-up artiste?
At first they were against the idea. I remember my father telling me if I wanted to become a makeup artist, why did I waste time going to the university and not for a salon and cosmetology course. My mother was also worried, she associated the make-up industry with bayaye. But I had to convince them until they became supportive financially.

What are some of the challenges?
Negative criticism. Some people equate this business to bayaye. Also the little pay; someone comes and wants make-up of Shs3,000 when just only the foundation costs Shs60,000
What is your most memorable experience?
When I got my first clients in 2019, I was very excited and my confidence levels shot up. It is a moment I will never forget.

What’s your dream?
My dream is to turn Real Best Glam into a big brand in Uganda and across the region. I also dream of having a beauty school and venturing into the manufacture and sale of beauty products.

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