Ann Mwenje, 24, is using make up to mentor young girls from underprivileged backgrounds.
Although her love for make up stemmed from a young age,it took her a while to pursue her passion. All through her childhood, she associated make up with a notion she had been fed since she was young.
“Growing up, all I heard about make up was negative things- that it was for women who were ‘selling themselves’, ” she shares.
It was not until 2017 when she met Priscilla Ndanu of Urembo Creations through a workshop that she realised that make up held a lot of power. Not only did it empower women to look and feel good about themselves but it also was a source of livelihood for many.
In June of last year, Ann enrolled for a certificate in make up from Urembo Creations. “I had just finished my hospitality course and I was being pressured to look for a job but I knew I had to pursue what i wanted,” she offers.
Having been a mentor with Cross Generation,a mentorship programme, she is aware of the impact it has on young minds. This is what has led her to starting ‘Beauty in the Closet’, a mentorship event through make-up. Beauty in the Closet stemmed from Ann’s personal realization that beauty stems from the inside and through make up, it can be enhanced outwardly.
Through the event slated for October 5th-6th and is the first of its kind, Ann plans to teach girls between 17 and 25 years the basics of make up application. “I want to teach them a skill they can use to make money given these girls’ background. Some may not make it to college but the can enhance their lives through make up,” she says.
Aside from make up, she has partnered with modelling agency Sauti Afrika who are collecting pads to donate to the girls during the two-day event. Her friends from Cross Generation are also partners, providing mentorship sessions, group therapy and writing materials. The smallest library in Africa in Baba Dogo will play host as Ann and her team seek to empower the girls.
With plans to hold more events of this nature in the future, Ann is hoping to work with NGOs and other youth empowerment centres to ensure that girls from underprivileged backgrounds get a chance at empowering themselves. To her, the epitome of her work would be helping the young women and girls to improve their lives through make up.
“Most of the time, people get stuck in life because they are holding on to the past. Beauty in the closet is meant to prompt them from that closet or past and into their full potential where they can realize their beauty,” she concludes.
You can find out more about the make up workshop and mentorship programme through her social media channels, Beauty in the Closet.