How 20-year-old Otim created makeup business

Sunday March 24 2019

Great technique. The youthful entreprenuer

Great technique. The youthful entreprenuer found his calling in cosmetology. PHOTOS BY GABRIEL BUULE 

By Gabriel Buule

Before Daniel Valentine Otim ventured into makeup artistry, he had to ditch Makerere University, and Information Technology, the course he had been admitted for.

Then, he may not have imagined what makeup would turn him into, yet today, it is his main source of income. He applies makeup and prosthetics both for events and artistic productions.

Unlike many businesses where one needs to own a stall or shop, Otim doesn’t own a makeup studio. Instead, he curates web spaces to define and push his business to those that need his service.

It is the twitchy attitude toward business that has seen him grow a reputation and clientele, that make him one of the most sought after makeup artists in Kampala.
Thus, it was not surprising when he got a nod in the recently concluded Abryanz Fashion awards, he was nominated among the best makeup artists in 2018.

Starting up
Much as his story may sound like a joke, he notes that it was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make.
“I remember telling my friends that I was choosing makeup as a career and they could not stop laughing. They thought I was kidding” he recalls.

Otim, a self-taught makeup artist says, he could always look at his mother style his hair, apply makeup and discovered that if someone could specialize in doing that it would help women like his mum save time.

He says he made a personal decision to start practicing makeup, learning from saloon ladies around Nsambya, Kampala where he would go. Look at them, ask questions and later practice on his siblings at home.

With YouTube and its always available tutorials, Otim started flocking Internet cafes where he learnt different styles from the many videos he viewed, he would always find ways of reproducing them.
“I could cram whatever I had learnt online and as I kept trying, I felt I was almost there and never looked back since then,” Otim notes.

He says as time went on, he kept developing passion while he kept finding ways of getting finances to start up the business.
Surprisingly, it was after a sickness that saw Otim admitted to Nsambya Hospital that his business ambition was kickstarted. A friend, who then stayed in New Hampshire, United States, had learned of his sickness and sent him money to clear hospital bills.

Otim says that even though he initially thought all the money would be consumed by the bill, he kept a balance of Shs800,000 and he used the money to buy his first makeup kit.

He would then wait for almost two months before landing a client.
Otim had anticipated resistance from his mother, but says she was only impressed and kept referring clients to him.
His charges range from Shs200,000 to shs2.5m, depending on the kind of makeup or a client’s location.

With YouTube and it is always available tutorials, Otim started flocking internet cafes where he learnt different styles from the many videos he viewed, he would always find ways of reproducing them.
“I could cram whatever I had learnt online and as I kept trying I felt I was almost there and never looked back since then” Otim notes.

Working with big names
At a time when he realised he could make makeup a full time job, Otim started courting celebrities with offers which paid off as they later started paying for the services.

A darling for female celebrities, he has worked with big names such as socialite Sue Ochola, Shaddy Boo, artistes Cindy and Rhoda K.

He is the official local makeup artist for Judith Heard and singer Fille Mutoni.
Otim though decries clients who steal his products or those who take long to pay or fail to clear bills at all.
He also says travelling for long hours, especially moving late night to catch up with upcountry gigs, which are most times time bound especially weddings, is another challenge.

Otim celebrates being independent and soon, a landlord in Kampala at 20.
He is looking forward to starting a makeup studio and a training center for disadvantaged youth in Kampala slums who can’t afford tuition to go to universities. He seeks to go back to university abroad to study makeup and train others as well.

Otim was born in Naguru in Kampala, he grew up with his grandfather, who was a warrant officer at Bombo Barracks.
He went to Kigumba Intensive Primary School. He completed his O-Level at Katikamu SDA Secondary School in 2014, then later joined Progressive SS Kitintale where he completed A-Level in 2016.
Otim was later admitted to Makerere University for a Bachelor’s in Information Technology, but he dropped out to concentrate on the business.