Six years into the craft horned from her Akamwesi Hostel room in Nakawa, Shillat Nambooze does not regret taking a path when she picked up her admission form from Makerere University Business School (Mubs) in 2015.
“At the hostel, most of my friends and other girls would occasionally come to my room for a face glam whenever they had functions to attend,” she recalls.
After her graduation day, she had to shift from Akamwesi and Mubs into the real world. Before the make-up venture, she opened a boutique at Mabirizi. The girls who used to show up in my hostel room for make-up followed me in my boutique. Two months later, women at the building too started coming for make-up and that was when I realised I had to capitalise on it,” she says.
When the numbers started increasing, Nambooze realised that she needed more and quality make-up kits.
“I got Shs1m and contacted my friend in the US. She sent me quality foundation and different shades to prepare me for the next chapter,” she says.
Not a lot of money but it got her started. It is in the same small dressing room that boutique clients used to try on their outfits that she installed as a make-up studio. It has since become the mainstay with a make-up package going for Shs120,000.
On days when she gets bridal bookings, Nambooze smiles to the bank. “When I have about three brides and booked to full capacity, I can make up to Shs3m,” she says.
With a team of three other employees, Nambooze can comfortably work on three brides and their bridesmaids.
Her working days involve interactions with people from all walks of life such as artistes, socialites and celebrities. Meeting a wide range of personalities comes with benefits such as learning, social capital, exposure to marketing of services and feedback from clients, among others.
Nambooze’s outgoing character makes it even easier for her to mingle with strangers. The business journey has precipitated her growth both in character and business for Nambooze. From a boutique and make-up services, she has added Puristry Organics, a company that deals in organic products for women such as shea butter, shampoo and sunscreen.
“I have been able to invest in another establishment that keep women’s skins healthy. As a make-up artist, I help women take care of their skins,” she says. Through her business, Nambooze has managed to fend for her family.
Her artistry has also presented travel opportunities for her. She prides in the fact that what started as a small make-up kit today has grown into a solid business from which she is making profits.
Despite her growth, there is one more milestone on her hit list. “I intend to become Africa’s number one make-up artist. It takes time but I will get there,” she promises.
Her creativity has opened her eyes to knowledge on beauty products, make-up and women as a whole. She is open-minded and ready to learn more. Her business has been through both good and bad days but still wades on through challenges. Clueless clients leave her with headaches. Fake make-up products is one of her challenges. “Quality make-up around town is expensive and one would rather import. Some clients are afraid of experimenting, which frustrates me sometimes. People keep doing the same looks which I find very boring. There is a lot more to make-up than what they know,” she says.
She sells some make-up products and has partnered with the friend who sent her first batch of make-up from the USA. Together, they run an online store called Lavish Pretty Bank. With make-up prices not about to fall, Nambooze is thinking of a better idea. She intends to make her own make-up in future.
Nambooze says the business makes her learn something new everyday because she meets many people. Patience is one of the values that has kept her going through the years. She has also learnt the art of packaging and branding her craft. Her communications skills have also improved. To Nambooze, the most important thing in the make-up business is believing in yourself.
“Nobody will let you work on them if you look like you don’t know what you are doing,” she stresses. Teaching yourself everyday gets you there. “Anyone can do this business as long as you practice. Have the right products, pray and market yourself. You get better with experience, “she says. Nambooze has worked on socialites such as Sheebah, Winnie Nwagi and Betinna Tiana.