A computer scientist by profession, Wezi Kumwendaso is the creator of Mayi Cosmetics and Accessories, a beauty brand founded in Malawi in 2016.
Wezi started experimenting with makeup as an outlet for stress when she was completing her Master’s degree at the University of Birmingham in the UK. When she returned to Malawi, her friends would ask her to do their makeup for weddings and events. Eventually word got around and she was able to build a business due to the demand for her bespoke services.
She started a hugely popular YouTube channel after receiving several questions about how she did her makeup and started making videos based on the most common questions.
Her YouTube channel provides beginner-friendly cosmetic tutorials. She writes a beauty column in a local magazine called Libre. In addition to makeup products, Wezi has created a line of African print accessories.
Wezi’s mission is to make basic makeup tools and products accessible to the average working Malawian woman. She says that in the current market, most of the cosmetic brands available in SADC countries are either high-end brands from Europe or America that are good quality but expensive, or affordable, low-quality brands. In Malawi particularly, makeup artistry is still a very niche and under serviced profession.
There aren’t a large number of people passionate about this industry to the point of venturing into creating a brand that provides products and services. Wezi believes that there is a lot of room for growth in this sector and frequently speaks in the media about how makeup artistry can be a viable career path for the youth of Malawi.
For Wezi, makeup artistry is a unique blend of creativity and business opportunities and she is working hard to help break ground in the industry.
Wezi also works as a banker and specialises in technology. She admits that balancing her time between working at the bank and doing makeup can be tricky, as both jobs can be mentally and physically demanding. However, she says that seeing her vision slowly come to life gives her the motivation she needs to work harder.
Her role model is Pat McGrath, who came from humble beginnings and has grown into one of the world’s most influential makeup artists, having also launched her own game-changing makeup brand.
In the next five years, she would like to have a brand that caters to all the needs of the beauty industry in Malawi, and eventually Africa, covering everything from skincare to cosmetics. She wants to manufacture locally, so as to benefit Malawi’s microeconomies. She sees herself creating a brand for Africans that will be sought after by the rest of the world.
Wezi says she wants to show Malawians that the standard that they see in European and American products is what they themselves deserve. She would also like to become a virtual mentor, offering life advice based on her personal experiences and others she has learned from.