It is undeniable that the cosmetics, beauty and hair industry is currently flourishing in the country. A walk through a couple of arcades around Kampala will leave you marveling at the countless beauty salons packed with clients, some working from corridors and really small spaces.
However, this comes as no surprise. According to the cosmetics industry overview, by Allied Market Research, global cosmetics market is expected to garner $429.8 billion by 2022, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 4.3 per cent during the forecast period of 2016-2022. This growth was attributed to the considerable rise in disposable incomes; the growth in global economies, changing lifestyles and the rising demands of skin and sun care products due to varying climatic conditions.
It is, therefore, necessary that human capital to cater for the needs of such a growing industry get the right skills to handle the demand. Recently, Ice Kenny School of beauty graduated 40 students with certificates and diplomas in Cosmetology, a package that comes with hairstyling, bridal styling, makeup, pedicure, manicure and facial treatment.
Just like it has already been applauded, one can never go wrong when it comes to skills training. However, not everyone concurs with the idea like Gloria Angucia shares.
“I have loved styling hair since I was a child. I would plait hair of children in our neighbourhood. When I completed Senior Four and my father did not have money to support me through A-Level, I knew what I wanted to do,” she narrates. She knew she would finally do the things her hands and mind have always wanted. She also knew it would be financially rewarding.
“I asked him to join a beauty school where I could learn hairstyling, makeup, and other beauty-related courses but my father did not like the idea. But different people came in to help me. My cousin gave me the tuition I needed and now I have finished my certificate in cosmetology,” she says. On her graduation day, Angucia had no relative around, but her smile was broader than everyone else’s.
But it has not only been a journey of accomplishing her dreams, but also, enjoying the benefits that come with having skills. “I started benefiting financially before I was done with school. I can work on three or more people in a day depending on their beauty needs and earn not less than Shs30,000 a day. I made Shs600,000 from bridal hair and makeup recently,” Angucia says.
But this field does not go without challenges such as tough competition. “Each day, you have to make sure you come up with new ideas both in hair and makeup but also be able to market yourself. One way of doing that is by being excellent at what you do. The kind of clients you get also matters - for example celebrities because they sell your brand and consequently raise your income,” she says
Furthermore, Elizabeth Kiconco, a cosmetology graduate from Ice Kenny School of Beauty, decided she needed to tap into the beauty field after her Senior Six.
“I shared with my mother the idea to first go for a beauty course before going the university and she agreed. I had a passion for makeup and beauty but I also knew that the beauty industry was flourishing and trending in Uganda,” says Kiconco.
While working in a cosmetics and hair products shop at Galiraya Plaza in Kampala, she took the one year course in cosmetology. “I sell to them beauty products as well. Sometimes my customers want makeup, or to just shaping their eyebrows. Here, we charge according to the kind of makeup,” she says.
To shape the eyebrows, something she can do for not more than 10 minutes, Kiconco charges Shs3,000 whereas drawing the eyebrows is Shs5,000. Doing only these is able to cater for her petty needs such as food and transport costs every day.
She also adds that when you have the right skills, you are spoilt for choice. “Even on days when business is slow, you cannot lack customers. Very often, you cannot take a week without getting a bridal gig. But even without a bride, you those for birthdays or bridal showers, coming for services. To me, this is better than waiting for a salary. Right now, my next plan is to have a makeup studio that offers different beauty solutions,” she notes. Kiconco earns around Shs50,000 per day and more.
Ice Kenny School of Beauty is one of the beauty institutes that offers certificate and diploma courses in cosmetology. Students study for a year. In addition to tuition, every student brings their requirements and materials for use since most of their lessons are practical.
Esther Baroma, the founder of Baroma School of Beauty in Mukono District, says the perception people have towards the beauty schools is often negative. “Majority of people undermine students who enroll for beauty courses. They look at them as academic failures,” she says. In order to resolve this, Baroma says, a lot of sensitisation needs to be done by both the government and communities through continuously educating masses on how beauty schools are positively impacting the society.
Putting skills to use
During graduation, a beauty competition was held where graduates did bridal styling in 30minutes. Edith Namuwawu, the first runner up, in the completion proudly says having skills opens opportunities. “If you have skills, you can put them to use wherever you go. I sat Senior Four in 2016 but even while studying, I was already working, without needing any documents, I just had the skills,” she says. Immediately after the competition, she was approached by different employers who wanted to employ her. “The offers are even bigger than what I was previously doing. I have been able to showcase my skills and I will sit down after this and decide where I want to go,” she noted.