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How DRKND first beat Depression to Beat Faces

Mastery of any art form is no easy feat. Some people are privileged to enjoy success after long practice periods, while others are unlucky; they never see results from their ‘10,000 hours’ of work. The importance of having an appealing visual aesthetic should not be underestimated as we see first before we approach, and the makeup artist embodies that importance. On this week’s RADRPlus, we’re guided into the world of brushes and blenders by beauty expert, Eniola Olusanya, who runs makeup outfit, DRKND.


Like the popular Nigeria saying goes, “na from clap dance dey start”, that was the case for Eniola, when she took an interest in makeup at the age of 6. [It started off from] Low self esteem. I’d use my aunt’s products on myself because it made me feel beautiful. It was just lipgloss, powder and eye pencil, but it felt like magic.” She kept the passion with her, and began it as a business in September 2016, two years after graduating from Queen’s College, Lagos. Although an unorthodox name for a makeup business, she christened it “Darkened” (stylized as DRKND), which stems from a rather dark time in her life. “I was going through a phase where I was depressed, and I used to think evil things about myself. I thought myself as gothic then, so I just went with it, and it stuck.” Now out of that phase and in her final year in the University of Lagos, she has definitely found her feet and is looking to take herself and her business to the next level.


We always try to make do with what we have, but there’s no way to get quality work done with mediocre tools; and like everything else, quality comes at a price. “Quality makeup is really  expensive. It’s different from your regular drug store foundation, the quality products cost as much as 15,000 naira just for foundation alone. But it’s all pretty accessible.” And it’s really not just about being able to afford these products. Application and execution are just as important as the products themselves. “I’ve been at this for quite a while but I know I learn everyday, there’s always some new trick or technique to learn, and it’s taken me time to reach where I am now. I’m self taught, so it was a lot harder to get through the process.” Despite going through the process herself, Eniola has those she looks up to, and tries to learn from. She lists Molade and Doranna Beauty as her mentors, she’s currently Molade’s assistant and she loves every bit of it.


People skills. We all need some valuable lessons, especially with handling those we render a service to. Eniola says dealing with her clients is an entirely different part of the job. “To handle an ill tempered client, you have to really stay calm. There are so many things that frustrate the artists, when we ask that you set your face this way and that, it’s because we’re trying to ensure it comes out perfect.” Keeping your temper is also quite important, Eniola tells us, and the whole process is a lot more delicate than it actually looks.


With the improvement in quality of movies in Nollywood and Africa, special effects makeup has become of greater importance over the last few years, and Eniola believes it’s a skill most MUAs should learn. “It’s far from the norm and super expensive but a lot of Nigerians are getting into it more nowadays. I study Creative Arts [in UNILAG] and it’s one of my courses. I definitely intend on getting into SFX fully.” As well as spreading her wings and exploring more aspects of the makeup industry, Eniola has more plans for DRKND as a brand and intends for it to be gender inclusive, with makeup and skin care products for both men and women.


Eniola says that with constant practice, a budding MUA will become better. “Don’t go into it for the money alone, the passion is what makes it work. Honestly, sometimes your work might not look good to you, but that’s because an artist is always stretching herself. As long as you have your customer smiling, don’t worry too much, just keep learning and unlearning.” Whether you’re self taught or not, it’s impossible to skip the process. So, be like Eniola and put in the work, because for her and you, the best is yet to come.

Clarence Macebong
Clarence Macebong


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