Men & Makeup: Meet Willy Collins Mbogo


Willy Collins Mbogo working on a client. Photo/COURTESY
Willy Collins Mbogo working on a client. Photo/COURTESY

In Summary

  • The makeup scene is definitely more competitive because there is an influx of artists.
  • However that indicates an increase in demand of the service, which is a silver lining.
  • Don't follow my footsteps you'll either lose track or remain in my shadow forever.

Makeup artists in Kenya have increased in number over the years. In the beginning, women dominated the scene. However, men are now part of the industry. The first male makeup artist we talked to, Willy Collins Mbogo, reveals how he got into the industry, his dreams and his most memorable client.

How did you enter this industry and where were you trained?

After high school I went to media school for a diploma in Mass Communication. I desperately wanted to be a radio host after school. I’m a talker, a good talker. Lol. When we took a break after 2 semesters I went to a beauty school (the now-defunct Personal Care Institute) to study media make up. My teacher Mary found me a job at a media station and I have been doing it for 5 years now.

Do you know of other male makeup artists and have you had a chance to work with them?

I know of about 5 or 6 other freelance male makeup artists but we haven’t worked together yet.

What is it like to be a makeup artist in Kenya today?

The scene is definitely more competitive because there is an influx of artists. However that indicates an increase in demand of the service, which is a silver lining.

Aside from weddings, news anchors and meetings, what other events do Kenyan women seek your services?

I get a lot of clients for personal branding photoshoots, baby bump shoots, basically shoots to celebrate motherhood in general, dinners and often as therapy. I play therapist to my willing clients. Some book me just for conversation then they go out for a meal and back to sleep.

Do you use the same products for all clients?

No, I use different products for different clients. This is guided by their look preferences, location and skin type.

What is your biggest achievement in your opinion as a makeup artist?

My biggest achievement as a makeup artist is yet to come.

Who has been your most memorable client and who would you love to work on?

I have been blessed to be able to book only clients with personality. All my clients are outspoken divas.(My friend Linda says you attract what you possess) It’s difficult to forget any of them. I still would like to work on Rev Kathy Kyuna. I like that she loves colour as much as I do. We met once at a wedding in Migaa and she is even more likeable in person. Bless her heart.

Is there anything you feel needs to change in Kenya to boost the profession?

I feel like we need tighter laws on counterfeit cosmetics. This in my opinion would be a game changer for the industry.

Any words of wisdom for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I don’t believe in copy pasting someone else’s path but I believe in borrowing from their footsteps. Don’t follow my footsteps you’ll either lose track or remain in my shadow forever. So in the words of Caroline Mutoko,” Don’t be me. Do better”

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