Since Tara Durotoye blazed the trail with her House Of Tara cosmetics specifically created with the dark skinned Nigerian woman in mind, we have seen several indigenous makeup brands spring up to meet Nigeria’s growing beauty demands. Kenya has it’s own trail blazer in Suze Wokabi, the creative director behind SuzieBeauty, Kenya’s first indigenous beauty and skincare line.
Wokabi, a graduate of international relations started her journey into beauty in Los Angeles as a MAC licensed makeup artist, working within the US Fashion and beauty industries from 2001 to 2007 before returning to Nairobi, to open a professional makeup studio with interest in bridal, runway and theatrical make up. Despaired by the lack of beauty products created specifically for the African skin and the African climate, Wokabi began to research her beauty line, working on it for three years before finally launching in 2011.
Wokabi’s work as a makeup artist has brought her critical acclaim, including features in Vogue Italia, L’Uomo and several Kenyan fashion magazines including True Love West Africa. Since 2008, she has worked with Kenyan fashion veterans such as Ann McCreath of Kiko-Romeo and the illustrious annual FAFA show (Festival of African Fashion and Arts), which draws several international heavyweights in support of its noble cause.
She has also had a long career with MNET Africa, working on Idols East Africa, The Patricia Show, Catwalk Africa, Face of Africa, and Coke Studio. She has led SuzieBeauty backstage through 4 seasons of the biggest regional TV Show and Tusker Project Fame. Suzie Beauty sponsors most major fashion events including Fashion & Beauty Expo (FAB), Nairobi Fashion Market, Samantha Bridal Expo, Miss World Kenya, and Kenya Fashion Week. A great compliment was paid to the brand by Oscar Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o when she wore SuzieBeauty’s Zamba lipstick to her appearance on the Queen Latifah Show and posted it on her social media.
In 2013, Suzie received a finalist award for the Most Influential Women in Business & Government in Africa. Under her able leadership, the company won 2nd runner-up in the Trade category of the 2013 Africa SMME (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was invited to speak at the 2015 Global Economic Summit in Kenya, discussing her journey in fashion before President Barack Obama.
SuzieBeauty products are readily accessible online and in retail outlets in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and even in Kampala, Uganda, Addis Ababa, and Cote D’Ivoire, and soon in Nigeria and South Africa. Additionally, the company plays a key role in the fashion, beauty, media and bridal industries and has established a seasonal school where aspiring local make-up-artists can learn this valuable skill.