Claudine Utuje Mwangachuchu is a makeup artiste and a teacher at the International School of Kigali whose passion for quality make up prompted her to start doing it commercially after gaining an overwhelming clientele. She is behind the makeup of most models on the billboards in Kigali as well as brides. She was recognised as the East African Makeup Artiste of the Year at the ASFA’s awards held in Kampala recently. The 29-year-old spoke to Sharon Kantengwa about her experience as a makeup artist.
When did you realise your passion for make up?
It started a long time ago when I was about six years old; with me admiring my auntie’s bright red lipstick and her makeup but off course, I was too young to start applying makeup. I bought my first make up kit when I was 12 years old through the influence and peer pressure of society. I never thought I would do make up for money and so when I came back to Rwanda from the Philippines, it was not something that I thought I would do even though I loved it. Not until one day when I saw a bride with inappropriate make up and I helped her fix it, that’s when the idea came and I started getting clients.
Did you do any training?
I did some training in the Philippines in a cosmetology company to learn about the basics of makeup, like colour blending, but what I learnt totally differs from what I do. It’s more of talent and love to be able to fix colours that are appropriate for the skin tone and type. There has to be a little bit of talent to have an eye for something. I am also a perfectionist which has also helped me do a good job.
How do you balance your two occupations?
I also teach toddlers, these are two things that I love the most. I’m lucky that I can find time for both jobs as most of my clients come to me after working hours or during school holidays, depending on the season. The timing works perfectly for me, and my clients book ahead of time as I sometimes have vacation time off my busy schedule.
What is your makeup viewpoint?
My philosophy is beautifying without having to change how you look. I enhance my clients’ beauty, sometimes I get criticism from people who say that my makeup is boring because I don’t do bright colours. I do elegant make up, and if one wants something crazy, I’m not the right person. I also get quality makeup from the US because it’s better to have quality makeup than quantity. I believe that my clients deserve what is good for them and it gets you even more. Like my father says, make up shouldn’t change you but should enhance your beauty.
What are some of the challenges that you have encountered in this business?
The culture of loving ourselves is still lacking in Rwandans. I meet so many Rwandans who think it’s extravagant for one to spend on makeup, and yet makeup makes one feel good and confident. Some people also do not trust my skills and do not give me a chance to do my work as they tend to dictate how I should do their makeup.
What are your future plans?
I’m a private person and I honestly have no idea how I got nominated for the East African Award of the year 2016. I didn’t expect to win but I believe that I was nominated because someone liked my work. My plan for next year is to go out there and be a little bit aggressive. The good thing about makeup is that there is flexibility and most of my clients need me during the weekends with weddings and anniversaries. For now, I will do both but I also intend to open up a makeup studio.
What advice do you have for the youth?
Be good, be consistent, practice, practice and practice. This is how you will be good at what you do.