The path to career choice can sometimes be a bumpy ride. Potholes, detours, traps, alligators and many challenges face those who walk in it. We were told that traditional careers like medicine, engineering, law etc are more lucrative and it gives you a status in the society.
Capital Campus caught up with Wilson Odiyo, a 27-year-old makeup artist and creative director with Madora Kenya. He shared with what it takes to make it in the makeup industry as a man.
Born and raised in the Manyatta slums of Kisumu city, Wilson never knew that make up would be the source of his bacon. Yet it looks like fate led him here. As he says, fate conspired to have him do this job which has turned out to be his passion.
Capital Campus (CC): Where did it all begin Wilson?
Wilson Odiyo (WO): I started as a freelance makeup artist. I was doing both beauty and film makeup. But I decided to specialise in beauty.
CC: Definitely you didn’t dream of becoming a makeup artist. What drove you to this career?
WO: First of all, I didn’t wake up and become a makeup artist. It started way back in 2010. I went to South Africa to visit my brother. I hadn’t really decided on what I wanted to do as a career.
There was a school in the neighbourhood where my brother used to live. I got curious about what they were offering. So one day I walked into the administration block and enquired about their admission process. Three months later, I was admitted to the Port Elizabeth school of beauty college.
I didn’t graduate sadly. I stayed there for 6 months but unfortunately, my brother passed and I had to come back home.
CC: How did you pick up yourself after the blow?
WO: It was tough but eventually, I had to move on. When I came back home, I did my research and enrolled at Vera beauty college to finish what I had started in South Africa. In 2013, I graduated with a higher diploma in cosmetology.
CC: Many young people believe that after graduation, it’s a wrap with the books, is that so?
WO: Not really, if you love something, you must improve in it. I did a lot of makeup training with internationally renowned makeup artists and I’ve also gone through training with leading local artists like Muthoni Njoba and Susan Wokabi. I’ve also done special effects makeup for theatre and film. Learning never stops.
CC: But surely, being a makeup artist doesn’t require such rigorous training? That could be the mindset that people have. It’s only engineering and such that needs such rigorous training, why does it sound so complex?
WO: That’s the misconception people have. This is art, though you might be a talented person but you still need to put in more work and time. You can’t just write a CV, people must see what you can do so that they can trust you. Every single day when you do what you love, you become good at it. And unless you invest in making your craft better, you will never grow.
CC: Is that the one overriding requirement? Loving what you do or doing what you are good at?
WO: You see, I believe that if you do what you don’t love, you won’t be good at it. You will be incompetent. But if you do what you love daily, you will soar.
CC: You probably grew around nice smelling women and that inspired you to take this route, ama?
WO: (Laughs hysterically) Not really. I grew up in Kisumu in a place called Manyatta with my mum and my sister. I grew up among women. But I don’t really want to say that it’s where I got this interest. I just stumbled upon it and it grew in me in ways that I can’t explain.
CC: On a normal day when you walk in your office, how does your day begin?
WO: When I walk into this office every day, I first check whether the merchandise are stocked and well arranged and our models are wearing the right makeup and the right perfume.
CC: Do you love what you do or you are good at it and that’s why you are doing it?
WO: I’m cant do what I don’t like. I remember doing so many free gigs out here. I really wanted money which wasn’t coming. If it wasn’t for the love of this craft, I would have given up a long time ago. My cousin used to tease me that I was wasting my time doing ‘women stuff’ instead of doing a real course like him who was pursuing surveying. Funny enough, someone was willing to pay that fees for me but I still didn’t like it.
CC: Before you came to Madora, what were you doing?
WO: I was working for another beauty shop. Madora offered a handsome package and I decided to cross over.
CC: Is there growth in the makeup industry? What does the future hold for you?
WO: In this industry, it’s like when a baby is born, they have to grow and learn to do things by themselves. Makeup artists are the people who design the lipsticks, the powders and everything you see here. I want to grow and become the master. I want to be so big that even if Madora will decide to do their own brand of makeup, I would be glad to be in the creation committee.
CC: If you are given a chance to advise campus students and anyone else reading this, what would you tell them?
WO: Stick to what you love and what you are good at. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.
Wilson Odiyo is a makeup artist and the creative director with Madora Kenya.