Our July Rising Star is a very talented makeup artist from Nairobi, Kenya named Kangai. She works full-time as a Marketing Manager & Lead Makeup Artist for a local beauty retailer in Kenya. In her spare time she manages a YouTube channel and blog called Bellesa Africa. She creates powerful transformations using makeup to bring out her models best features. Keep reading to learn more about Kangai:
Sigma: What made you decide to start Bellesa Africa?
Kangai: 5 or so years ago I was a part of a creative group of people here in Nairobi. We would get together for 6-day intensive shoots and produce amazing content. After a couple of years, we grew into our own areas of expertise and sadly the movement ceased. For a while, I felt that there was a gap in my life and I knew that I needed something exciting to fill it. Deciding what to do was easy, especially because there was a gap (in my view) on YouTube for content targeting women of African heritage, with different skin tones, types and conditions. On the other hand, deciding whether to go ahead was the scariest decision I ever made, mainly because this time I would have to do it all on my own. After dithering for a while, my friends encouraged me to shoot my first tutorial during a shoot that we did for a local clothing brand. In a few months, I forced myself to learn more about photography, shooting and editing videos, recording voice overs, as well as honing my makeup skills along the way. It took well over 6 months to gain any ground, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
Sigma: What is a normal day like for you?
Kangai: I don’t think there’s ever been a normal day in my line of work. First- I do have a full-time job as a Marketing Manager and Lead Makeup Artist for Lintons Beauty World- a local retailer and distributor of high-end cosmetics, fragrances and skin care products.
However, in my spare time I run Bellesa Africa, and I love it because no one day is typical! What’s fun is that I get to work with local artists and celebrities. One day comes to mind though, when our call time (as requested by me, regretfully) was 4am. We were shooting album visuals for a local musician, and the shoot was to take place in a foggy forest about an hour from Nairobi. Makeup had to be complete by 5am so that we could catch the fog in the morning sunlight. We made it to the location on time, but as we got out of the car, we realized that it was absolutely freezing cold! I had brought along my favorite pair of Reefs, which in hindsight was absolutely silly on my part. So, my extremities froze to the point that I couldn’t feel them at all. After about two hours of intermittent leaping into the air to maintain bodily warmth, we got back into the car, cranked up the heat, defrosted and then headed to the next location. We shot in over six different scenic spots, with makeup and clothing changes on the side of the road, near a sunflower farm, on the shores of Lake Naivasha, in random bathrooms, on the tops of hills and in a deep gorge that was absolutely beautiful. 8 hours later, we headed back home- now that was fun!
Sigma: What does the future of the cosmetics industry look like in Kenya?
Kangai: I must say that it’s really exciting. As an integral part of the company that is leading in Kenya’s high-end cosmetics industry, I get to play a pivotal role in directing where the country’s cosmetics industry is heading towards. Also, the fact that Kenya is the business hub for East Africa makes living and working here an exciting journey. Within the city, there are quite a few large retail expansions and within 5 years we’ll have 10-15 large malls catering to hundreds of thousands of people. Each of these will have spas, beauty retailers, salons, nail bars and many more service offerings. This is a result of the demand for cosmetics for men and women who want to look good, and can afford to as well. It is an exciting time to be in Kenya!
Sigma: What is your go-to Sigma product?
Kangai: WOW! This is a hard one. I have had the chance to use quite a few of Sigma’s brushes and I must say that I always turn to the Sigmax Kabuki Kit. I’ve not found one brush that has disappointed me among the 5. Out of the 5 though, my favorite is the F80- Flat Kabuki™ brush. It is obvious, but it is such an AMAZING brush- it blends foundation so well!
Sigma: What is your favorite beauty tip you love to share with clients?
Kangai: SPF! First- always wear SPF, especially if you are out in the sun, which here in Kenya is literally all the time. The largest misconception I have heard is that since Africans generally have darker skin, we don’t need to use SPF. It is not the truth! I encourage all my clients to use SPF, as it will protect them from the sun’s harmful rays, which don’t discriminate based on their skin’s melanin content. Of course, it has many more benefits… Wear SPF!!!
Sigma: When I’m not working on my YouTube channel/blog, I am___________.
Kangai: Traveling and going on adventures. I absolutely love adventures- especially the ones that stretch me out of my comfort zone such as traveling to new countries, getting lost and then finding my way again- it’s so liberating! I really think that life is the best adventure in the world, and I plan to live mine to its fullest potential.
Connect with Kangai: