While her colleagues confined their pencils and crayons to tracing alphabets in 'My First Copy' books and colouring cartoons, Akosua Benewaa would stand before a glittering mirror to paint her face with hers.
Ask her mother, Mrs Juliana Opoku Agyeman, how her powder mysteriously got finished in the house within a few days of purchase and you will know that Akosua used it all on her face.
Akosua’s father, Mr. Prince Charles Darkwah had a problem with her 'behaviour'. The sight of his daughter painting her eyebrows and lips sent him crazy.
“Akosua, don’t take after those bad girls. Your mother never did this,” Mr. Darkwah would fume.
But... this did not deter the young girl. She was perhaps a stubborn girl with an innate passion that would not be sacrificed on the altar of threats or scorn. After all, she never became a bad girl as her father feared.
This childhood account, Akosua tells me spans over twenty years.
“The truth is that most of us in our childhood days had something we were so much attached to so that nothing could separate us from it. But frankly, I never knew about who a make-up artist was,” she said.
Akosua Benewaa, born Darkwah Benewaa Lucy, is a professionally trained teacher. For four years now, she has been pinning chalk to the blackboard and marking her pupils’ homeworks and class exercises.
She says seeing the beam of smiles on her pupils’ faces each morning, and guiding and guarding them climb the ladder of life makes teaching such a noble profession.
Madly in love with teaching, she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at the Valley View University. She does not merely wish to teach at the university someday but become a teacher with enormous control over the subject she loves.
Interesting enough, aside holding onto teaching tightly as she would have a relay baton, her childhood fantasy of facial colouring and powdering has not been put to rest. It has put her on another pedestal today.
If Akosua deems teaching important, seeing the touch of beauty she leaves on the faces of her bridal clients equally makes her appreciate being a make-up artist, too. She says she will combine the two.
I asked her how she was able to sustain her childhood dream; the dream she herself never understood as a child.
“Realising the thing [making up] was still an interest to me, I learnt it as a trade from someone. After a number of years of learning it, I told my mistress I would want to go set up my own brand which she agreed,” she said.
‘Ever21 Make-up’ became the name of that brand. When asked why Ever21, Akosua said, “no matter how old you are, when I touch you with my pencils and brushes, you get the looks of a twenty one year old lady.”
Akosua plies her trade primarily in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana. She says almost every week or two, she has a client to attend to either in Kumasi or Sunyani.
But how much does she charge a client? Would she disclose that to us?
She says her services are affordable. “If the bride books for both ‘engagement’ and wedding, she pays only 400ghc; 50ghc per a bride’s maid. Aside the brides, others come to be made up for funerals, weddings and photoshoots. For such, I charge 30ghc per client.”
Determined as a young make-up artist, she does not only make people up. She trains others as well to be like her, too.
Akosua says her trainees pay "something small" as school fees.
“Depending on the number of days one would like to learn, one week goes for 150ghc, three weeks 300ghc and three months 1000ghc respectively,” she said.
She says she hardly touches her salary. She makes a living out of her childhood hobby. So, what are her parents’ reactions now to their daughter’s humble success?
“I remember a client paid her booking fee to my mother. She was like ‘Ei! I didn’t know there is cash in your thing [referring to makeup],’” Akosua recounted.
She said she could not help but laugh.
What about her father?
“My father would now tell me that I honour him with what I do. He is just happy for me.”
Akosua got married on August 22, 2015 and you won’t believe she made herself up. Yes, she did!
Her story teaches us many things as parents, would-be parents and even caretakers; we must do well to safeguard our children’s childhood dreams.
In Africa, precisely Ghana, we often do not pay attention to the things children are fond of. We are only concerned about putting them into schools for them to pass examinations from the basic through to the senior high level. Then, at the tertiary level we impose on them our choice of courses.
We want them to become what we dreamt of but could not achieve ourselves. In another breath, we want them to choose professions such as teaching and nursing. Why? Such professions have existing job opportunities. We fear our children joining the long winding queues of unemployment. But the truth is that smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
As it stands, Akosua is out with her first book on make-up artistry dubbed “Ever Twenty One Outlook.” In a few years to come, she wants all roads in search of beauty lead to the Ever21 offices (which will dot all the capital cities of Ghana).
At such offices, you don’t just come for makeup but have the opportunity to buy everything associated with beauty.
Is that not wonderful? What is your dream? What do you fancy most and what are you doing about it? Are you just going to leave it rot in your imaginations?
Aside journalism, do not be surprised to hear Mensah Farms winning the next best farmer in Ghana.
I would want to own a farm of both crops and livestock; produce palm oil from my palm tree plantation and others and export processed products in large scale.
Don’t kill that dream, live it for it is not too late. Give your dream a touch of Ever21.
The writer is a young Ghanaian journalist.
Email: [email protected]