• How and when did you fall in love with makeup?

I became interested in makeup in high school, but I never really acted on it. In 2016 I finally left home and went to university. I got exposed to YouTube and for some reason which I can’t remember, I started searching for makeup tutorials and that is when things just got out of control. It was the only thing I would watch for the whole year. Like every day in the morning when I woke up, I would watch makeup tutorials; before I sleep –  it’s a makeup tutorial. It became part of my routine; like I was obsessed.

In 2017 I went back home and that’s when I decided to gather all the little coins that I had and go to Clicks and buy all these things that I had been seeing them use in all these tutorials. Mind you, the only makeup I had until 2016 was lipstick, mascara, eye pencil – just what everyone had. I started doing people’s faces and my goodness it’s been a love of mine since then.

  • How did you start learning your skills? Are you self-taught?

Yes, I am self-taught, but I did learn from YouTube. It’s just not a professional or traditional school that I learnt from; so I guess I am self-taught. I practised on myself and on my cousins.

  • Do you think you have come a long way in your makeup career? Tell us about some of the highs and lows along the way.

Oh, I’ve definitely come a long way! The big high was when I got booked for the first time by New Media, for a shoot that they were doing. I was so proud of myself because I was like, “Oh my goodness, I’m doing this; I’m a makeup artist.” Just seeing my name on the core sheets and stuff: “Makeup artist, Thobeka Zulu”. At that point I could scream; I was so proud.

I would say I am an optimistic person, and so don’t dwell on the lows, but a definite low for me was a wedding in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. I went with the family; we drove down. The drive down was a mess because their plans were just falling apart. So, it started on a very terrible note. The next day I did the wedding makeup; everything was good. We drove back home and that was all fine, but when it was time to get paid, I had to get the police involved. So that was a very big learning curve for me. I didn’t know that people you trust could do that to you. I didn’t like having to call the police on someone, but that’s how it got sorted.

  • Do you see your business growing in future? If so, how?

Yes, I do see it growing in the future. Right now, I’m just going with the flow, taking on new work, challenging myself. I’ve added on new services, which is doing hair installs and styling. There’s still a lot of room for growth, but I do want to open my own spa; it’s been a childhood dream of mine to own a spa/salon that just has everything. A one-stop shop. I guess it’s manifesting; slowly but surely.

  • What is your average makeup price and why?

My average makeup price is R350. That’s what I charge for all my makeup looks and the reason why I don’t have “different prices, different looks” is because the process is the same. You may come to me and tell me you want a natural look. Am I not still going to apply foundation? Am I not going to do your eyebrows? And am I not going to do highlights and contouring? It’s the same process. And I don’t want to be too expensive for people, so I feel like R350 is the perfect middle ground. Anyone can afford it. R350 really isn’t that much, especially compared with what other makeup artists are charging.

  • What is your favourite makeup look?

This is a difficult question. I like a very soft look on myself compared to my clients. I really love the graphic eye trend, with rhinestones and little pearls on their eye makeup.

  • Any tips and advice for someone who would like to pursue a career in the makeup industry?

With me it came easy because it’s something that I love. I honestly never even saw it as a form of income or as a career choice. It was literally just me doing what I love. I guess if you can find that love for it first… . There’s a lot of work involved, but then you won’t mind doing that work. I hate waking up early, but for makeup I could wake up at 3am for a client. I don’t mind at all because I know this is what I love and right now it’s the only thing that’s feeding me.

Then, be patient; be very patient. You’re not going to blow up soon. I’m still waiting for my blow up, I hope it comes soon. So just be patient, don’t be afraid to make mistakes; learn every day. Try and do as many different faces as you possibly can because different people have different features, and different looks look better on different people. Practise, practise, practise. Practise on yourself; practise on your models. Create a social media page and post often. Try and keep your makeup as clean as possible; be friendly to clients at all times, and be smart with your money. Have a booking policy in place because people will take advantage of you. But I am still learning!

Read more here on what it’s like to be a vet.

Tell us: Do you have a love for makeup? Why or why not?