Mabel Okoye, does the name ring a bell? Maybe for those who are very close to her, you may know this name. For the purpose of those who don’t know, she is the founder of Mascoteda Studio’s one of the prominent names in the Beauty world in Abuja. She is one of Nigeria’s most creative personalities.
It is amazing what Mabel does with make up products and brushes as well as body paint. She has taken make up artistry and body art a step further by making her work not just for aesthetics purposes but a source of inspiration. You can’t help but marvel when you see her work.
SR leafed through the pages of her life and discovered countless reasons why she should be celebrated.
Mabel Okoye, in this interview takes a walk down memory lane with Spotlight Reports on how she became a “Make-Up” cum “Body Art” artist among other inspiring stories about her life.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Mabel Okoye. I was born into a family of seven being the second amongst them. I am married to a lovely man and have two adorable sons presently. Am a professionally trained Makeup/Body artist and an entrepreneur.
What was Growing Up like for you?
Growing up was so much fun with five other sisters and a brother to play with. I loved to draw as a child; it was easy for me to recreate what my eyes saw. I would do a drawing competition with my brother, listen to stories told by my elder sister and not get along with my immediate younger sister is (lol). My mum would yell while we run round the house playing with stuffed dolls and a play house made with our cushions. We were a typical average Nigerian family who experienced the hard and happy times of living. My Dad would say Education is important it will never fade away so he made sure we all went to school.
Journey to this profession: what did you study, what were your goals before now? Did you go through any formal training?
I studied Geography and Regional Planning at Ambrose Alli University and graduated in 2006. My goal before now was to become one of Nigeria’s best painters. Like I said I’ve always loved art, it’s in born and it’s a part of me but unfortunately I couldn’t study art due to the belief of my parents that there was no future in being an artist. My Dad most especially wanted me to study law. Now I work as a makeup artist and yes I trained professionally for it at House of Tara in 2009. It was the next best thing close to me painting. I figured if I can’t paint on canvas I can as well paint on faces and be creative with body art.
Who’s your role model?
A lot of people inspire me at every stage of my life …… Picaso as a great artist, Funmi Iyanda, Oprah Winfrey and a whole lot of others.
It wasn’t my will to be an entrepreneur, I practiced as an artist for one year before my Youth Service and it wasn’t easy to break even in the artistic world since I didn’t study fine art and after Youth Service I couldn’t get a job that’s when I went for my training in makeup. Although I was good with makeup but I lacked the ethics of the trade so I lapsed back into looking for a job and finally found one with an NGO but didn’t stay long on it. I couldn’t because the art in me wanted to unleash so I searched for jobs in makeup studios and when I couldn’t find one I opened one. Working with my former boss taught me a lot and I guess it prepared me for the life of an entrepreneur. She taught me self confidence and need for God in my life, armed with all that I know and the confidence in my skill I ventured into entrepreneurship.
Any reason you think you excel in this profession?
Am good at what I do and I love it. These are the only reasons I can give.
What Impact has being a makeup cum body art artist had on your life?
A lot of positive impact. I don’t think I have ever thought of makeup as important before I became a makeup artist but since I’ve been one it has broadened my ideology on it as a topic and as a business, it’s importance and contribution to our economy, it taught me how to approach and handle people, how to be out spoken and appreciative. It has taken me places and given me room to meet beautiful people with different cultures and backgrounds.
Every makeup artist has what they love the most in their makeup box that they feel they can’t do without; for me, my brow pencil, mascara wand, liquid liner, lipstick or a lip-stain and an eye liner. With these I can always convince someone about my skill (lol).
What inspires you?
Life, things around me, nature, shapes, patterns on fabrics, a splash of water and colours
You seem to always come up with different initiatives aimed at assisting others, what informs your decision as regards these initiatives, as regards assisting others with their packaging, free training and so on?
In my years of working as a makeup artist and as a tutor I’ve come across people who wish they can achieve more in life. I’ve also gone through a tough time starting up my business and wishing I had all the funds to quickly achieve my dreams so I understand that feeling of nothingness and hoping for more from a God sent person. This need propelled me to draw up a scholarship program once every year to reach out to individuals who truly deserve it. I love to see growth in individuals so sharing my knowledge on branding and how to start up a business is something I love to do. I just don’t find it difficult to share ideas with who ever needs it especially in my line of work.
What is your favourite make-up trend?
My favorite makeup trend is winged liner
Your views on fashion airbrushing?
Air brushing is a different technique of applying makeup …….internationally it is well used but here in Nigeria few clients request for it. Generally as a fashion trend I would say the technique has come to stay, it gives this flawless finish and perfect look.
How long can one keep or use a make-up item before discarding it?
Every makeup item has their expiration date except it’s not listed for instance mascara should stay two to three months before discarding it or when you notice it’s smelling. Most makeup products might not carry direct expiration dates as expected but might have numbers and letters written on them to indicate the date. The letter M is for months and Y for years which means a products that says 6 M means it expires in six months and 2 Y means two years.
My creative skills and innovations
In Nigeria at the moment, Make-up artistry is now an All-comers affair, everyone is jumping into the profession, does the profession still retain its exclusivity and uniqueness in Abuja?
Yes it does. In as much as you said it’s common there is a uniqueness to every artistic touch and I think that’s what makes clients seek them out.
Give us an insight on Cosmetic ingredients that are harmful to the skin?
Lead in cosmetic is said to be harmful
I get the impression you really enjoy what you are doing, what are your top five “loves” and “hates” of this profession?
Top five loves:
- Gives room for creativity
- Opportunity to meet and make amazing friends
- The smile on a clients face after a makeover
Top five hates
- I can’t really say there is so much I hate about the profession, the only reason I would have said is how fellow makeup artistes treat each other. I don’t believe we should see each other as… but rather as one body with same passion. We should be able to share ideals that will help make the industry strong.
If you can turn back the hand of time and you are to start again would you still choose the beauty business?
I think I would.
What advice do you have for those who want to join the Make Up Artistry Profession?
Don’t build your skills on only what you were taught in makeup class strive to learn more; most especially from other makeup artistes’ jobs in Nigeria and the world. Dedicate time to reading and studying all that has to do with it, most makeup artistes don’t read, trust me it’s not all about practical sometimes especially if you want to become a makeup tutor. Carve a niche for yourself in the industry, don’t just do it because people are doing it and please don’t ever believe you can’t be good, believe in your passion, set your goals high and become your own dream chaser.
What’s your take on Gender Equality?
I believe if there is balance in gender equality then we would find the change we seek.
What Lessons has life taught you?
Life has taught me a lot but most of all it has taught me that I can’t walk this earth without God and never to give up and that no matter how I fall I should find the focus and ability to rise.
What advice do you have for the young Nigerian Woman on achieving success?
Never give room for excuses
Final Words to Nigerians
Nigeria is a blessed country and as a Nigerian it means you are blessed too.