Makeup By Rae: ‘I learned people buy feelings’
For this next edition of Design Hustle, I talked to Rachel Bronson, Founder of Makeup by Rae.
Tell us about yourself. Briefly introduce yourself and your company. What you do?
My life story starts in Mombasa Kenya where I was born to the most wonderful supportive parents anyone can ask for. We moved to Uganda when I was five, where I went to Buganda Road Primary School, Maryhill High school and Kibuli Secondary School. Later, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in International Relations and Sociology in University of Pretoria.
For a short time I worked in my field of study with an NGO and then decided to venture into makeup. I was grateful to do this because it gave me more time to raise my young son. I am a makeup enthusiast turned self-taught makeup artist and have been in the business since 2013. Right now, I am starting up a makeup artistry brand that provides tools like makeup brushes and beauty sponges for flawless makeup application.
What was the turning point to lead you to where you are now – this moment? What or who inspired you?
The turning point was when a friend of mine asked me to help her to do makeup for her cousin and her bridal team for her cousin’s kuhinjira. I just went to help and was going to do it for free. Imagine my surprise when my friend asked her cousin how much she was going to pay me. They negotiated the fee and that was that! My friend was trying to show me that this was a business venture I should get into and just needed to believe in myself.
I was inspired by my love for enhancing beauty of women through makeup artistry. I was also inspired by Cerinah Tugume of Serene Beauty and Eva Namukose of Makeup by Kose. My University friends from Pretoria and friends in Uganda inspired me as well because they saw my potential which I barely saw in myself.
How has the journey been in building your company or career?
Initially it wasn’t easy because I started the business when there were very few people in the industry and there were not many success stories. However, this also worked to my advantage because I was able to establish myself in the market early enough whereas now it is much more competitive.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to break through. How did you overcome this obstacle? Can you give an example?
My biggest obstacle has been sourcing products due to the fact that they are expensive in Uganda. The cosmetic companies do not have branches in Uganda. We mainly rely on retailers who won’t bring a variety of products.
Cosmetics products are not only expensive to import. They are also heavily taxed. By the time they are sold here, the price is about twice or thrice the retail price as compared to countries like the UK and the USA.
I have been fortunate to have supportive family members who help me when they travel and buy the products I need. Once in a while, I also travel and stock up. The retailers have also greatly improved their stock. Nowadays it is much easier to get very good quality products in Uganda. Retailers like Nitahs Avenue, Passion Cosmetics, DH Beauty and Raziel Beauty are my go-to when I run out of some products.
What is the formula for your success? What is your secret? Can you share examples of moments or products/services or clients you are proud of?
When I attended a marketing course one of the lessons I took home was, ‘people buy feelings’. One of my first bridal clients told me this as she booked me: “Rachel I am not booking you because you are the best makeup artist on the market. I am booking you because I know that you will show up and give me your best”.
I also listen to my clients and try to make sure they leave when they are satisfied with my services. Most of my clients have come to me through word of mouth and I am so grateful for their support. I also try my best to build their trust so being honest, dependable and punctual is very important to me. Some of the clients I am proud of are Sheebah Karungi, Zuena, Zari, NTV & NBS news anchors and all my brides.
It’s 2026, I turn on the TV and there you are being interviewed. What are they saying about you and your business?
They would be saying that I grew from being a makeup artist to a successful makeup brand owner of a great quality high-end makeup brands that people love.
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