From Earning Kshs10, 000 to Building a Beauty Empire…Meet Suzie Wokabi

Suzie Wokabi, Founder of SuzieBeauty Cosmetics

 By Tabitha Makumi,
 I love creating “something” from scratch. The start, frustrations, failures, the “I think I am losing my head” part, the “aha” moments and so forth. But enough about me. Some people use that drive of “creating something” into starting their own businesses and building empires while at it. Such is Suzie Wokabi.

You know that gut feeling you have something won’t work but you still go ahead and do the thing anyway? I reached out for an interview with this super cool lady, thought my request would disappear into her spam mail, go unread or something… but what do you know!

Get to know more about the woman behind SuzieBeauty, a revolutionary Kenya’s first make-up/ beauty brand for the African woman, by an African woman!

So, what makes this lady tick? What are her fears? And just like everybody else, are there parts of her job that drive her nuts? Read on!

What was your first job?
I had an internship at a veterinary clinic, does that count? Yes....I was toying with the idea of being a vet (Laughs) But my first paid job was after high school at a stockbroking firm where my aunt worked and gave me a shot at corporate work.

How much were you earning then?
That was 1995, I think I was earning 10,000 per month.

Why make-up?
I’ve always had a love for beauty and fashion (more beauty though) and had the opportunity to work with some cosmetics companies while I was in the US. I discovered my true passion for beauty then. I also went ahead and got a certificate in media make-up artistry.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing is that – as a creative – I get to CREATE! Be it products or looks, creating gives me life!

What gets you up in the morning?
Apart from my 2 noisy boys (Laughs) My passion for what I do. My passion for being a part of growing the local beauty industry. I strive to do something towards that every day.

What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever had?
Nothing that is not a cliché – because they are all true. Never give up. Love what you do. Be persistent and patient. Nothing good comes easy. Hard work will always pay off.

Who has had the most impact in your professional life?
Hmmm… myself? I do have a great support system though – my husband, parents, siblings have always had a positive impact in my desire to achieve.

What part/s of your job makes you want to pull your hair out?
The business end of things. Anything to do with the daily runnings – managing finances, cash flows, HR issues…. Ughhhhh!!!

What advice would you give to young folks willing to venture into the make-up industry?
Enter it with the correct intentions. If you are getting into the industry to make a killing, you will be disappointed very fast. That will only happen when you pay your dues as the pioneers in the industry have.

Don’t expect to jump in and be successful immediately, it will not happen. You will have to work very hard for that.

How do you relax after a long day at work?
I avoid doing meetings after 4pm when the kids are home, whereby I cook, hang out with them, do homework, dinner etc. Thereafter I can get back into finishing off emails, catching up with messages I may have overlooked during the busy day, etc. Once in a while I’ll go out with my girlfriends, but that is rare.

Apart from that, I also love doing videos with my bff Pinky Ghelani. We film funny videos under our Pink&Suz brand and have a big following. It's our therapy because we have such fun at it!

If you could go back in time ... What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Stay positive! Be brave! Jump in with 2 feet and don’t worry about making mistakes, learn from them and move on. Enjoy and savour the great moments.

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