Driven, opulent and silly this is how Kisiwe describes herself. Due to a lack of representation of women of colour in the makeup industry this young entrepreneur founded her makeup brand named after herself : KISIWE. We decided to interview her first of all because she’s a hella dope boss lady and secondly because her project deserves to be known.
When did you start your makeup line and why did you choose Kisiwe as a brand name ?
I started my own make up line about 6 months ago. The brand is named after myself (Kisiwe). I decided to go with this name because its very unique and stands out. The main inspiration for my brand is luxury. I wanted to embody both simplicity and opulence in everything from the branding to the packaging to the lipstick shades I chose. It took a lot of investment financially and lots and lots of research.
Why did you decide to create your own make up line?
I have been an avid fan and buyer of makeup products for about 3 years now. I mean, I used go to Sephora and Mac constantly in my spare time. I noticed that a lot of the marketing was geared towards lighter skin toned women and Caucasian women. As a light skinned woman myself, one would not think this would affect me. However, growing up and living around darker toned women of color (and being the daughter of one) , I felt it was not what I wanted to see. I wanted every single woman to be able to see what a lipstick shade would look like on them before they buy it and know that they matter too in the eyes of retailers and companies.
When you first started this project, did you get the support of your friends and family?
I would say it came across as a surprise to everyone that I had started my own brand because I tend to keep things hidden at times. But once my mother and my close friends (in Montreal) found out, they did everything and more to help and be supportive. Some friends, however, opted for the “good job” route , which is to be expected i suppose!
“As a African woman in the diaspora, you might not have access to things that other people will have. Eligibility for funding programs, ability to get large loans from the bank, you might also have to do well in school at the same time as run your business. Work around it!”
For you, what was the most difficult aspect of creating your own brand?
Staying consistent and focused. It was so easy for me to get discouraged , especially when I didn’t meet a specific goal.
What advice could you give to those who would like to start their own business or brand?
RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. You are going to change your mind 1000 times. About your logo, your marketing strategy, your colors, your formulas. Its normal, do not beat yourself up about it. Be organized. I was not very organized and that leads to wasted time and wasted money.
What could you say all African diasporian women who would like to build their own business but are too scared to ?
As a African woman in the diaspora, you might not have access to things that other people will have. Eligibility for funding programs, ability to get large loans from the bank, you might also have to do well in school at the same time as run your business. Work around it! Don’t just start a business because you see other people do it. Take time to think about what you want to do and how you want to build it. What works for others will not work for your business. Lastly, you can do this! It won’t be easy, but with focus and consistency, you can achieve your business goals.