Ruth Mbugua is not only hardworking but very driven. She started out as a model but she is slowly making a name for herself in the beauty industry. She also finds time to stay true to her first love which is dancing. She shared her inspiring story with me.
1. You recently featured in Amos and Josh’s videos, how did that come to be?
Amos and Josh are really good friends of mine. I have known them for several years and we support each other in our careers. Being part of their videos was a request and I accepted.
2. Your belly dance in their last video ‘Dansi Na Mi’ is quite something.
Laughs. I have been a dancer since my teens and I have performed in various Arabian Nights events in Kenya so I was in my zone in the video.
3. Besides that, you are a self trained make-up artist, walk me through the journey
It all started four and a half years ago. The first time I did make-up was during a photoshoot and the models thought I had gone to school. That’s when I thought I can actually do this. Soon after that I began uploading photos on . and I got my first client who was a bride. I withdrew all my savings and bought the gear I needed for the wedding. I went above and beyond for that gig and hardly made any profit but I gained confidence in my craft. I got another two more clients after which I decided to get some training in order to truly understand what it is was getting myself into.
4. Did it ever get to a point where you felt like giving up?
Oh my gosh! It has happened like thrice.
At first I could not find a make-up school in Kenya so I went online and did as much research as possible for six months. I laid out a schedule like a formal school till I was done with the six months. At some point it felt like I was not getting anywhere but after I was done I knew I was ready for business.
Business picked up and I began making progress. Then sadly I lost my big brother and the whole thing drained me completely. As if God was trying to cheer me up, I got one of my biggest job then with Kenyan artist STL few weeks later. Besides being a client she was really supportive as was the rest of the team. The third time was when my business went up in flames the same day I opened the shop. I had wiped out my bank account just to revamp my business then the fire happened!…..I thought I was going to lose my mind.
5. Tell me about the fire
Ruth seems to drift into a memory that made her incredibly sad before she answers.
I had withdrawn all savings again. All the money the business had made. I had never paid myself a dime. I channeled all of it into a new idea I had of a make-up bar where I could have different brands of make-up and all you had to do was order the look and brand you would like just like at a normal bar. A friend who owned a salon in Ridgeways offered me space where I could set up before stepping out on my own.
Weeks went into preparation of the launch and I was hands on. I dealt with fundis, painters, and suppliers and finally just before the eve of valentines in 2015 we launched. I had a wedding on the said Saturday so on Friday I carried some products home that I needed for the wedding. That same evening, I got a call from my friend who owns the salon and he told me everything was on fire. I thought it was a prank then he broke down and I knew it really had happened. That was my breaking point. I had no money, no business and I literally checked out of everything.
6. But you are here today…
Friends from church and my family contributed some money to help me out but it took five months to get back to work. I came up with a personal mantra that it is better to crawl than to give up. I had to keep going. I feel like God allowed me to go through that so as to make me stronger.
7. Tell me a particular moment in your career that you are most proud of?
Hhhhmm… I can’t say I have one particular moment. For me, everytime I work on a client and after looking at the themselves in the mirror they go like “wow… Oh my gosh… Thank you thank you Ruth” those are moments I treasure most.
8. Who are some of the big clients that you have worked with?
I have worked on music videos like STL’s Biashara remix, Obe Baba and Chukua Hatua, The Kansoul , Amos and Josh , Size 8 among others. I have also worked with the SportsPesa Festival, some commercials and TV series with Hennessy East Africa, Arena Media and Storylab productions.
9. What are you doing different with your craft?
I love art in general and sometimes I use makeup and prosthetic to create an artistic look. I have different themes that guide me to achieve a certain look based on what the client wants. I’ve done body painting as well and it’s something I’m looking to explore more.
10. What, in your opinion, should be done to improve the industry?
I think we need to have an association that protects the rights of Make-up artists in Kenya. Some clients have never really understood our job and therefore getting your paid becomes an issue. We need to have a standard rate for all professional make-up artists in the 254.
11. What does Boldface Artistry mean to you?
It means being bold in whatever you do in life. Wearing a bold look when you leave your house, giving you that feeling that you can face whatever the world thinks of giving you. It means being confident with or without makeup, means believing in your self, your craft, your strengths…I can go on and on. In a nut shell, that word makes me wake up in the morning and helps me face the day with confidence and courage.
12. What is the future of Boldface Artistry?
I have a lot in store, some long term goals and short terms goals. All about helping women understand inner and outer beauty and how to maintain it. I would like to see how I can merge both beauty and fitness for women but I am yet to decide how I will do it.
13. How do you stay fit?
By dancing and healthy eating.
14. What does fitness mean to you?
I made it part of me..My lifestyle! I love to dance, been doing it for years. Back then in my teen years, I never knew the kind of benefits dance can have in my body, until like half a decade ago,it hit me. Anyone one I know who has danced for years, they look young, have good skin and hardly fall sick. I use it as my way of fitness and to top it up, it’s fun!!
15. What do you think of society’s tendency to give women pressure to be fit?
My two cents would be, I think anyone who wants to be fit should make that decision based on them wanting to truly live a healthy lifestyle not because the society or someone close to you has forced you. It should be a personal hunger. But looking at the women who have conquered losing weight and maintaining, they are a good motivation to the ones who are starting the journey. Helping them understand that they can actually do this.
16. What is the one insecurity with your body that you have since overcome?
Fortunately I’ve never had any insecurities with my body.
17. What do you love most about being a woman?
A woman is a special being. I don’t get why women fight for equality when God has given us all we need. We need to be grateful and embrace womanhood. We are stronger than we think and we can handle a lot of things that men can’t.
18. Congratulations on your recent nuptials, what is the one thing you enjoy about being married?
Marriage is a beautiful thing. God is the initiator of this union in which a man and a woman become one and just knowing that I am living according to His will, gives me blissful days. I’m enjoying building this life with my better half who is also my biggest supporter. He is the one person who pushes me to be the best version of myself. It feels good to have to someone who has your back.
19. What drives you?
Everyone on earth has a purpose to fulfill and that’s why you are where you are. I know I have to impact people’s lives with what I do, and that gives me the drive to keep on. I mean… think about it…. what do you want people to remember you with once you stop existing?
20. What would you say to women about going after their dreams?
Women should stop thinking less of themselves. We were not just created to give birth and do house chores and be employed in low level jobs. We are more than just beautiful, curvy, flawless species. We also have a mind that we can put to use and help the world in different ways…. ways in which men cannot. That gift that you have not tapped, that idea that crossed your mind, that dream you have, be bold and execute it. The world needs to hear your voice…the world needs to be impacted positively by you and what you can do.
You can find her on Instagram (@boldface_artistry [email protected]) , . or on her website.