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Make-up mogul who defied odds to make it big

Wambui Virginia @kuivirge

As a young girl, Jacque Mgido, founder of Jacque Mgido Cosmetics was forbidden to wear make-up. She was told it was an unnecessary distraction from academic pursuits.

As a result, she found a way to cleverly wear it without drawing the attention of her parents, especially her dad.

It is this experience that made Jacque who she is today and the make-up that was once a forbidden distraction has become a way of life for her. Jacque whose roots are in Zimbabwe has developed an extensive range of fresh formula and stunning colours, designed to give a woman a natural look by simply enhancing her features.

While growing up just outside Harare, the idea of working in Hollywood, let alone becoming a make-up mogul was a fairy-tale dream. Jacque began her journey to achieve her goal with a move to St Louis in Missouri, USA in 1995. She was 18 years old.


Unfortunately the options there did not provide any means to pursue her dream. To earn money, Jacque worked several odd jobs including as a nanny, a maid, and a restaurant host where her job consisted of welcoming guests and  and assisting patrons.

Mgido glams up the writer – Wambui Virginia. Photo/EUSTACE MAINA

After moving to the East Coast, USA, she enrolled into a cosmetology school and worked for several make-up lines. This reinforced her desire to pursue her dream.

After living for several years in Washington DC and working as an lnstructrice de beaute for Clarins, Jacque took a chance and enrolled in a prestigious make-up school in Hollywood, California.

She studied for  a master’s programme in beauty and special effects. After graduating she continued to hone her skills as a make-up and hair stylist and began to land some of Hollywood’s elite as her clients. Jacque’s career catapulted into instructing and developing products for other make-up lines.

  In the end, she developed her own  make-up line inspired by the adults in her life who were fascinated by the mirage she created around make-up.

Every product she makes is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and allergy-tested. Jacque’s philosophy is not only to offer a great product, but also to educate the consumer on the benefits of make-up and proper application techniques. “Always ensure you are wearing the make-up and the make-up is not wearing you,” she says.

The products have periodically launched in pop up stores in South Africa and the UK.  The cosmetic line was officially launched in the USA and now in Kenya and East Africa at Lintons Beauty World.

Jacque’s father’s disdain for make-up could have impeded her desire to do what she loved most– work with make-up.  Her zeal, charm, professionalism and her love for the TV world has, however, earned her coveted opportunities to work with the elite of celebrities such as Jane Lynch, Sylvester Stallone, Neo, Maya, Snoop Dog, Cuba Gooding Junior, Rene Russo, Johnny Gill, Russell Brand, Wiz Kalifa, Far East Movement, Randy Jackson, Ted Danson, John Legend, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Collage, Neil Patrick Harris, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Gayle King, Vanessa Hudgens, Linda Blair, Ben Stein, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Elaine Hendricks and Orlando Jones.

“The reason I decided to own a make-up line was that I was frustrated looking for products for women of colour in the land of abundance. I could not imagine what my African sisters were going through. I took my knowledge as a make-up artist and as an educator of the art and product and decided to bring it home.

When I first launched as Vault Cosmetics, I went back to my comfort zone, Zimbabwe. This was in January 2015. I became the ambassador of my own brand and I realised African women were relating to my story. The products were well received and I decided to spread my tentacles to other cities and countries,” she says.

            Start from scratch

Her journey has not been without hurdles. Jacque  held a big launch at Borrowdale Brooke, in the suburbs of Harare and went all out. On that day she made Sh10,257 (($US10)  and she had spent  Sh6 million ($US60, 000).  “I felt like a complete failure, I gave up, called my husband and told him it had failed. They didn’t trust me and I don’t blame them. When I went to Mbare, Harare and tried to sell my products that is when I realised the appreciation and the love for another Zimbabwean, which is pretty interesting. I realised what they wanted was in the bottle and not how it appeared. All I had learnt in America was that product packaging had to be amazing, because everything is about image. I had to go back to the drawing board and make a product that any ordinary person can afford. I started from scratch without anything. It was quite a task. It is not easy, but I never gave up,” she says.

So she rebranded and started selling affordable make-up for  the african skin tone.

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