Home Featured Mums How I Survived 12 Months Without Pay –Rose Ntong’ondu

How I Survived 12 Months Without Pay –Rose Ntong’ondu


Hello friends! Today I once again feature Makeup Artist Rose Ntong’ondu, who shares helpful entrepreneur lessons based on her own experience. In case you missed it, she last shared this experience here on Mummy Tales: One of the Most Terrifying Experiences I’ve Ever had as a Makeup Artist.

Today, Rose talks about how she built her clientele base. I am reposting this article from her Facebook page, with her permission.

‘When starting a business, the hardest part is the beginning; when you’re trying to get everyone to know what you do, that you even exist. It’s hard. So hard that most people give up.

So a couple of years ago when I was struggling to start my makeup business (Make up by Rose), I had to work for a certain company for 12 months with no pay.

Here’s how it happened and why.

I remember when I had called the company asking if they had a spot for a makeup artist. They rejected me a couple of times saying they were not hiring. After calling them several times for a couple of months, they finally agreed to hear me out and asked me to go for an interview with the editor.

I was so excited just for the chance to get to meet her. I remember the first thing they had asked me on the phone was, “How long have you done this?”. And second thing was, “Could you bring your portfolio?” I didn’t even know what that was!

So the next day I went over to the company. I had borrowed some clothes to wear so that I looked presentable. So I went in and waited for her at the reception like I was told. When she finally asked me to get in, I will never forget the look she gave me and the questions she asked me.

“Hi, she said. ” I have only 5 minutes because I have other meetings, so we will make this quick, she said.

“What’s your name and why do you think we need you?” I could barely speak.

Then she asked “Tell me how many celebrities you have done makeup for?”

Then she went in to name two makeup artists that had started a career before me and asked “Do you know them?”

I said no.

Then she asked me “Can I see your portfolio?” I didn’t even know what that was. I almost broke into a sweat. I figured I had prepared well for this interview. Then she asked a question I didn’t know how to answer.

“Why haven’t I heard of you? Have you done any media work?

By this time I was sweating!! I said no but added, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn and improve. Bear in mind that my work was still very good at that time. But I had no portfolio, nothing to show so that was very very bad.

She said, “If you want a chance in this company, you have to work for free! We won’t pay you. Unless you have a portfolio.”

And I did. I worked a couple of hours each day doing makeup for models and cover models for them. Bear in mind she treated me like crap the whole time. At times I wanted to give up completely! But I didn’t.

I had no choice but to work for free and was constantly in trouble because I didn’t have rent or food to eat.

Within those 12 months almost everyone in the beauty industry knew name, which was the point and I was able go build a solid clientele base.

How I survived

I did other odd jobs like selling onions and tomatoes from mtindwa and korogocho. I also sold onions door to door. I bough them with some little money I borrowed from my mum. I also did manual facials door to door survive.

Point is, when starting a career, you have to work hard for people to notice your business. For people to know who you are. Because if people don’t know you or your business, they can’t buy whatever it is that you are selling.

Work hard on your business, work hard on your craft. Put your all in it and you will be shocked at how good you get and how well everything works out. The first initial steps are the hardest, but it gets better. So don’t give up just yet. Keep working hard. Hope this motivates someone about to give up.’ -END.

That’s Rose’s journey. How about you? How did you start your business? What lessons have you learned along the way? If you’d like your story and business featured, email me on maryanne@mummytales.com 

Also see Irene’s inspiring story in the video below.

Mummy Tales is a blog that contains lots of helpful articles that will help you navigate your motherhood journey. Feel free to search the blog for other experiences of Kenyan moms that may teach you a thing or two. You can also follow me on Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Instagram.

All photos courtesy of Rose Ntong’ondu.



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


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