In the wake of current harsh economic times, it is not uncommon for college students to engage in side hustles to supplement the peanuts they get in pocket money from parents or guardians.
However, juggling between the demands of college and a side hustle is never easy and neither is finding a perfect part-time job, especially in Kenya.
But for students like Tess Kori and Maxine Wabosha, moneymaking ventures have been a big hit, with Maxine, in particular, making up to Sh200,000 per month as YouTuber/Make up artist.
They shared their stories with Nation.
From the first day I joined Kagumo Girls’ secondary school, I knew I was destined to be an air hostess. However, when I completed high school, my parents lacked money to see me through college.
My saving grace came in the form of a scholarship to study food and beverage production at the Christian Training Institute in Thika. Even though it was not what I wanted, I felt that it was better than staying at home doing nothing.
In my first year, I volunteered to design dresses for a friend who wanted to model at the school’s cultural night. She ended up becoming the best model in that event.
Her victory made me aware of my potential. I signed up for Miss Thika auditions even though I had little experience. I passed all tests done on my background, social media accounts and character. When it came to the actual modelling, however, I didn’t perform very well.
Thankfully, Ruth Opanga, the CEO of Vintage models, asked to meet me after the auditions. She offered to train me ahead of an upcoming pageant. Her influence was the spark that lit up my modelling career.
I attended training sessions in Ruth’s studio, where I had access to all the models I needed. Under her wings I honed my skills as a model. From mastery of confidence to how to strut down the catwalk, her influence was valuable.
By 2016, I had honed my skills and I participated in the Mr and Ms Thika beauty pageant. But even after doing my best, I did not win. I was only recognised as the best model with the best creative wear.
By the time Mr and Ms Kipaji announced auditions, I had lost hope. However, I signed up and did my best in that pageant, and I ended up winning!
This success reignited my dream of being an air hostess. I completed my two-year training in food and beverage production in 2017, but I did not look for a job in that field.
With the guidance of my elder brother, I started working as an online marketer and a professional model.
In January 2019, with savings from my modelling and marketing jobs, I enrolled at the Kenya Aeronautical College where I am currently taking a course in Airline Cabin Crew.
I still run my online marketing business while working as a model. I use my Instagram page its_tesskori for marketing because it is effective and easy of use. To juggle between school and business, I simply plan my days well.
In a month I make an average of Sh72, 000. I use part of this money to pay my school fees and also to help my parents. I also invest in building my personal brand and the rest goes into my savings account.
Even though working while still in school has its challenges, the financial security it has offered me far outweighs those challenges. I am no longer worried about being jobless, and I don’t waste my time in school engaging in activities that don’t add value to my life.
In my first year of university studying mechanical engineering, my life alternated between attending classes and staying at home. It was until I took a friend to audition with Spell Cast Media that my life took a different turn. Just before the audition, my friend developed cold feet and I decided to audition with her as a show of support.
Surprisingly, we both got drafted in the cast and thus began my ongoing career in acting. During my time at Spell Cast Media, I auditioned for an acting role for a play, but I didn’t make the cut. To be part of the play, I was told to come in as a singer.
Apart from being a singer, the organisers asked me to be in charge of make-up during the production. It was an interesting turn of events because at the time, I had no experience in make-up application. I never even used much make-up myself!
I got two of my friends to help me and together we did the make-up for the entire cast. Even though I was not being paid, I was happy to do it. I had so much fun. Our work was so good that the production manager asked me to take charge of the cast’s make-up for the next plays, and this time round, they paid me.
After the first show, it became clear that make-up application was where my passion lay. During my long holiday that year, I took make-up and beauty classes at Make-up by Rose and was certified as a professional make-up artist. During the production of the Cinderella play, I did the casts’ make-up at Sh1,000 per show. That officially kicked started my career as a professional make-up artist.
As I established myself as a professional, a friend asked me to show her how to fill in her eyebrows. I recorded a video to guide her, but I was unable to send the video via WhatsApp because it was too long. So I ended up uploading it for her on YouTube.
I was so excited after posting the video, that I shared the link with my parents. They in turn shared it with their friends who also shared it in other circles and within no time, the video had accumulated about 1,000 views.
This response surprised me so much since I had never thought that people were interested in such videos. I got requests for more videos, which I did and uploaded on my YouTube channel, Wabosha Maxine.
When I started that channel, I wasn’t even aware that I could make money from YouTube. I was posting videos as a hobby. Initially, I used my phone to record the videos, placing my phone on a window sill so that the shots could be stable. The shooting itself was a great challenge because I could only do it between 10am and 4pm when there was sufficient light.
But success did not come instantly. Not even within a month. For one year, I consistently put out videos but they received little attention. It took me another year before I got my first cheque of Sh10, 000 from YouTube.
I have been running my channel since September 2016, and so far I have over 86,000 subscribers, and have posted 224 videos. Each day is a learning experience for me because I do most of the work on my own, be it shooting or editing. I am also a social media influencer and a brand ambassador for a number of companies.
In a month, I make an average of Sh200,000, which I use to buy the equipment I need to improve the quality of content on my channel. I save the rest.
As a YouTube content creator, originality and consistency is key when building your brand. If you are consistent, YouTube extends your videos to wider audiences.
I am currently in my fifth year of study and just about to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. However, I feel that I have found my passion, and I will keep doing it even after graduation. I won’t pursue engineering, but I believe the degree will be useful in my future endeavours.