AN invitation to take part in creation of online content by a group of artists, turned into Kangai Mwiti's big break - opening up her eyes to the plenty of job opportunities the digital age has to offer.
The thirty-one-year-old a professional make-up artist, has leveraged on growing demand for online services to create a business niche that has secured her financially. It also fulfills her hobby to indulge in the beauty business, as her online based firm - Bellesa Africa - motto aptly reads: Kenyan girl playing with make up.
It all started five years ago, she was invited to be part of a group of creative artists who were tasked to produce interesting content to capture various online audiences.
“ We would get together for six day intensive shoots and produce amazing content. After some years, we grew into our own areas of expertise and the movement died.” said Kangai who then found herself bubbling with a lot of ideas, but with no one to share them.
“Deciding what to do was easy, especially because there was a gap on the internet, especially on YouTube for content targeting women of African heritage, with different skin tones, types and conditions. “ She however says that deciding to implement her plan was one of her most difficult decisions ever, mainly because she was afraid to venture out on her own.
“After dithering for a while, my friends encouraged me to shoot my first tutorial during a shoot that we did for a local clothing brand. Within a few months I forced myself to learn more on photography, shooting and editing videos, recording voice overs as well as honing my makeup skills along the way."
After equipping herself with the relevant skills and tools, she started Bellesa Africa, a business tutorial firm that creates and posts various beauty-based self help videos on online sharing website Youtube.
To prepare a make-up 'How-To' video, she single-handedly shoots, edits, voices the scripts, and uploads on Youtube.
“I think of the looks or techniques that my viewers on Youtube would like to learn, then I schedule the shoots accordingly. After the model arrives, I set up the camera to shoot the video. It has a lens that automatically focuses on the subject. Once I'm done with the shoot, I edit the video without sound, and then record a voice over. I upload it onto Youtube and then it's live!” explains Kangai who has not attended any formal class on beauty or technical video recording, but attributes her work to talent.
Kangai also works partly as a beauty consultant and marketing officer at Lyntons Beauty World and can also be contracted by bridal parties for make-up services.
Her Youtube audience is now edging towards 50,000, a development she terms as really exciting but also an challenging task.
“It's getting a little difficult catering to all their needs, and what I've noticed is that there is a trend to their requests. The great thing about this is that I will always have so many ideas that will be the foundation for my tutorials.”
Her client base is focused in Nairobi and they usually pay in cash for her services. But she adds that to succeed in this digital type of business platform calls for patience patience. This is because it takes long before the business starts making profit. Kangai hopes she can grow her Bellesa Africa into one of Africa's biggest beauty channels.
The beautician says that there are so many women of African heritage who do not know how to put on makeup, which gives her business basis.
According to the Nendo social media report 2014, the world is quickly changing and more enterprises are engaging their clients through technology. The report adds that business enterprises that use internet and mobile phone applications are more likely to experience more interactive customer experiences, and may stand a big chance to improve their operating environment
The report indicates that mobile apps are the defining trends which are expected to change business for the better in 2014. Social messaging in general, including watching of clips on Youtube have recently become global phenomenons, with impact on mobile network operators.
A business enterpreneur can make use of Youtube in innovative ways like Kangai, through how-to videos that can help clients use a product or service. A business can also offer solutions to common problems that are raised by customers, such as how to put on eye mascara for clients such as Kangai's, while answering specific questions with a video demonstration.
Another way of using the vast web space to bring in the profits is to always embed the business videos to your business web page and it would be okay to offer blogs to discuss your products.
As Kangai has learnt, there is usually little need for one-to-one meetings with customers unless they are not satisfied with the video demos. She says as business and to attract clients you can also run promotions where your viewers can win gifts.
"This way, you create more traffic and potential customers for your services and products," she says.
YouTube attracts a global generation that has grown up watching what they want, whenever they want, on whatever device is closest. Globally, almost 40 per cent of YouTube’s staggering six billion hours of monthly watch-time comes from mobile devices. On average, 60 per cent of a channel’s views come from outside the creator’s home country.
“Entertainment is the most consumed content category by Kenyans on YouTube but we would like to encourage Kenyans to post videos related to other categories such as cookery, fitness, and comedy. Research also shows that 63 per cent of YouTube users talk about what they see on YouTube with their peers,” says Nyambura Kariuki, YouTube Strategic Partner Manager at Google Kenya.