Ruth 'Ruthie' Kinuthia is an award-winning makeup artist and beauty guru, as well as the founder and head makeup artist at Makeup by Ruthie. She is also a former Miss Kenya, and was the Makeup Artist of the Year in 2016 at Kenya Fashion Awards.
She spoke to Nation.co.ke about her journey:
Was the switch from beauty queen to makeup artist natural, or difficult? Coming from being on the stage to behind the stage must have been quite a shift.
It was quite the shift but I have always felt like going from the modelling world into the makeup art world was a natural transition for me. As a beauty queen, I always loved the beauty and cosmetic industry and was very acquainted with makeup because I did my own makeup for a lot of the pageantry appearances and events.
What's next for Makeup by Ruthie? How do manage to find ways to reinvent yourself and stay relevant?
I'm quite enthusiastic about the world of makeup so naturally I'm driven to learn new things, new techniques, find out about the latest products and makeup trends from the around the world. I also listen keenly to what my client's needs are and do a lot of research. Knowledge is power.
What is the makeup scene in Kenya like? I know you travel cross country a lot for things like weddings and events. Is there a lot of competition, or work is in plenty? Do you guys help each other out, or have a network of some sort?
The industry looks very promising and is rapidly growing with a lot of new entrants into the market. I do quite enjoy the fact that I get to travel all over Kenya and abroad. As with every industry, competition is inevitable. The upside is that the makeup artistry community is closely knit. So we do come together to work on projects and jobs quite often.
What products do you prefer to use? Would you say that the product business in Kenya is booming, especially in regards to local products like Suzie Beauty? Would you ever consider doing a line yourself?
The cosmetic industry in Kenya has rapidly evolved over the past 10 years. Ladies have gone from wearing a simple lipstick when attending a special event to wearing considerably more makeup on a day to day basis. This of course goes hand in hand with the availability of high quality and affordable makeup products in the country. I love using products such as Mac, Bobbi Brown, Inglot and Estee Lauder products. I would definitely consider doing a line.
What are some of the amazing places being an MUA has taken you, some of your favourite gigs?
I have travelled to quite a number of places both within Kenya and abroad... . I'd have to say that one of my favourite destinations was Johannesburg, South Africa. One of my most memorable gigs locally was when the country held its Kenya at 50 nationwide events. I was privileged to work back stage as a makeup artist at the Kenya at 50 All Stars event that hosted almost every single musician and performing artist in Kenya... . that was a great event.
What do you think needs to change in the Kenyan beauty scene as a whole? More cooperation, more events, more quality, for example?
First off, there are way too many counterfeit products in the market... there should be a stricter regulation enforced against selling counterfeit cosmetics which more often than not have negative reactions on the user.
What did it feel like to be given an award for your makeup work? Has it changed you, your business, or expanded your horizons in any way?
It felt surreal. I was extremely humbled by the experience and receiving recognition for my work was worth all the investment and hard work I have put into the Makeup by Ruthie brand. Receiving the Makeup artist of the year Award definitely set me apart and enlarged my client base and opened my eyes to new heights I could scale in the industry.
Do you do any type of mentorship for up and coming makeup artists or beauty queens?
I do offer training programs for upcoming and aspiring makeup artists. I love to give back and share the knowledge, experience and skill I have acquired over the years. I also avail myself to mentor beauty queens and walk them through the ins and outs of the pageant world. It's always a great feeling to give back.
Who are some makeup icons, both locally and internationally, who you look up to?
I would have to say... . Danny Sanz, Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, and Kevin Aucoin, just to name a few. They have made leaps and bounds in the international makeup scene. Locally I would have to say Suzie Wokabi (founder of Suzy beauty) and Muthoni Njoba (Brand ambassador for Maybelline New York) who are incredible icons in the Kenyan makeup industry. They both took me under their wing when I started out in the makeup industry. I learned fortitude, focus, diligence and the importance of working towards a goal and achieving it.