Sammy Ajayi is a makeup artiste, he is the brain behind Dallo House of beauty, a makeup and beauty outfit based in Lagos. In this interview with Yinka Lawal, he talks about how he has been able to thrive doing a woman’s job, challenges, amongst other issues.
How did you find your way into a woman’s world?
Being a male makeup artiste is all about my passion, though it is truly a women’s world but I am in the industry to make a difference, I entered into the industry because of the passion I have.
When did you start professionally?
I started 6 years ago
How has the journey been like?
The journey has been fantastic, seeing how makeup evolves, and how you can grow with it as a person. Six years ago there weren’t things like concealing of brows, contouring and highlighting but now we can. Different brands also come up every day, really it’s been fantastic
Did you stumble on it or you have always thought about it?
I didn’t stumble on it, I lived with my mum who raised me singlehandedly, I have always watched her do her makeup every time and it fascinates me. So I decided that when I grow up, I will do something related to that.
It will say it started as a hobby initially, but now I am doing it professionally and I am ecstatic about it.
What challenges did you face being a man in this line of business?
The challenge I face is related to time. On a second thought, I wouldn’t want to consider this as a challenge. I get to lose my weekend; usually there is no time to hangout because of work. Asides this, I will say every other thing is okay.
How were you able to surmount some challenges?
I believe we as humans should be able to strike a balance. It is important s to sit back, write things out and take them in order of their priority. Ask yourself, what is important to me at the moment. Challenges are a part of our world, they shouldn’t distract us.
What are plans do you have for your business?
To own a makeup brand, not just in Nigeria but in other countries. I also plan to organise an award for makeup artistes because I found out that there is really no event organised to celebrate makeup artistes, like they do in music and movies, which is something I will like to do. I will also want to have a reality show where young makeup artistes will come, just like project fame to showcase their talent.
People in the music and movie world are respected and acknowledged for their works. I think makeup artiste deserve that to, because what we do is we transform people, we make them beautiful. It is a big dream, but I know it is realisable.
If you rate the number of years you have spent, would you say it has been rewarding?
Yes, it has been rewarding, I have worked with beautiful people and I enjoy every bit of it. I enjoy what I do, I wake up every day and what I think about is makeup and music, I am just happy, the journey has been amazing, I have inspired lot of people to do makeup, it is a thing of joy.
Aside makeup what else are you into?
I am willing to try farming; I actually want to go into farming, it should be encouraged as an alternative to the oil crisis
How would you compare the industry ten years ago and now?
I will say it is a ratio 10-100, there is really a huge gap. Now you see how creative the new generation of makeup artistes are, this wasn’t obtained ten years ago. The industry has evolved people are now more aware. The industry is a lot better than it used to be.
In what ways do you think Nigeria could meet up with their counterparts abroad?
Nigeria can perform better. That they have more awareness in the western countries doesn’t mean we can’t do better than them, as a matter of fact black people are intelligent, I have been to the UK,I studied there and I have seen the way they are, a lot of them are intimidated by us. Our government needs to put better structure in place.
Can you tell us about your educational background?
I am a trained makeup artiste from different schools, I studied English at the University of Lagos. I studied linguistics at Hugwort in East London.
What are the things you are passionate about?
I am passionate about dogs (puppies), and animals in general, which is why I want t go into farming, I want to go into grass cutter farming. I will also like to do something for the less privilege children, I adore them and I think they deserve a better life.
Have you ever considered a 9-5 job?
If I get a job that pays better than make up, I won’t take it because that is not my dream and I won’t want to waste my time. It is about following one’s passion; we don’t do things because there is money in it.
The market is saturated, how do you carve a niche for yourself?
Identity and creativity changes everything. We have a unique identity different from other makeup artistes which gives us our own niche of customers. For example, I don’t use blade to shape peoples brow because I believe it is not professional, when you have professional kit and you do things the right way people will respect you.
As a male makeup artiste, do you receive contrary comments?
Of course, people say lot of things, may be this guy is gay, I feel when you keep your head high and you know where you are going, you will get there. There is no one who has become successful who doesn’t have people talk about them; however, you need to learn to forget the negativity.
What products are you comfortable working with?
Two of them, Mac and Zaron, they are just fantastic, they blend well and when you use the foundation, they don’t smear. Zaron is one of the best makeup products in Nigeria, they give you the best result.
What aspect of makeup brings out the best in a model or bride?
My eye brow and my eyeshadow, that is the aspect that brings out the job of a makeup artiste. The aspect I am most comfortable with is professional makeup, runway makeup is where you get to be creative, for bridal we are all doing the same thing, we work with the colour, and tie the gele. When you have a professional makeup to do like the runway show, you see how the model are on the runway, the way the makeup is, the eye lashes, is just really amazing
In three words describe you
I am eccentric, happy and lovable.
In years to come where do you see the makeup industry?
Non makeup artistes will be doing professional makeup, as you can see ladies now carve their brows very well.
What advice you have for the newcomers in the industry?
Don’t try to show too much, the easier the better. That is what kills lot of makeup artistes, lot of them act like they know it all. It is good to ask questions, it is good when you don’t try to impress, if you just come out of makeup school, try to learn, you can’t be taught everything under three month. I have been in makeup for six years now and I still don’t know it all. Three months of makeup school doesn’t make you a professional; there are some experiences you get through work.