From unknown to unforgettable

Boitumelo Maswabi
FINISHING TOUCHES: Leshiba working her magic

The incredible journey of Leshiba as a make-up artist

Working on a famous face such as that of an international celebrity translates to massive publicity for any make-up artist.

However, talented Itumeleng Audrey Leshiba missed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only promote her brand and, by extension, her revenue in 2021when she turned down a request to showcase her artistry to the world through South African performer, Makhadzi.

The more uninhibited and ballsy ‘Bobo’ – to her good fortune – snatched the unrepeatable gig!

But all was not lost for the timid Leshiba.

After that regrettable experience, she rose like a phoenix to prove herself to be as equally talented.

“I was offered to do Makhadzi make-up by a certain gentleman, Emmanuel Kayenda, who worked with the organising team Gilbert Promotions, for Makhadzi’s first show contacted me, but I had cold feet. I guess since I was self-taught, and relatively new to the industry, imposter syndrome got the better of me; it was a deer in the headlights moment. I just wasn’t ready,” she explains, and chuckles at the memory, adding that she was still in the employ of Nora Cosmetics at the time after all.

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“A colleague of mine pushed me to call Ema back after 2 days, but it was too late, they had already sought Bobo.”

Born in Bobonong 29 years ago, the professional model-cum-makeup artist relocated to Gabz at the age of 6 to begin Standard One at Lesedi Primary School.

She proceeded to Nanogang JSS and later Naledi Senior.

Way before she knew what exactly it was called, she was certain she wanted to be a ‘mannequin’.

“I never really had aspirations of becoming a make-up artist. However, my fixation with modelling meant that I learnt to walk on high heels to train myself for the runway/catwalk. I had one cousin who used to encourage me to try pageantry, but I wasn’t interested. Naturally, I’m pretty shy, I just couldn’t picture myself a pageant queen,” She says, further explaining that after high school, she went to live in Francistown with her elder sister to do a short course in Purchase and Supply at Realic Professional and Technical College.

That was between 2014 and 2017.

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Once she’d put pen down, she retraced her steps back to the capital to search for employment and further her modelling ambitions.

“I have done two international shows: Sita International du Textile African Fashion Showcase in Djibouti, where I travelled with your contributor, Tsholo Dikobe; Fashion Without Borders in Johannesburg and here in Botswana; Masa Fashion Show; Tirisano Mmogo Fashion Show; Batho Fashion Week; and the Gabs July fashion show. I have also been a Face of Keno Women 2020 Top5 finalist, have done photoshoots for Options Botswana from 2018 to 2020. Currently, I’m the brand ambassador of Mel-G Designs.”

A chance meeting with Nora McAslin, of Nora Cosmetics, through her sister, was Leshiba’s introduction to make-up.

“When I met Nora, I was clueless about make-up. I was responsible for selling cosmetics products, and that ignited my interest in make-up. Occasionally, I would watch YouTube videos to learn more about the industry, as well as how to apply it. In 2019, unfortunately, I lost my job,” she says.

Not one to be defeated, Leshibaa then hastened to start a business.

“After registering the company in 2019, September, Glam Shades was birthed. I rented out space at one of the salons at Main Mall but, soon thereafter, Nora Cosmetics called me back as they were opening a store at Airport Junction; I had to put everything on hold. But, in 2022, I eventually left and continued with building my brand; that was the best decision I ever made! At Glam Shades, we offer in-studio makeup, bridal makeup, corporate and special effects makeup. We also do nails, eyelash extensions, wig installation and waxing at very affordable prices, as well as offer makeup tutorials for beginners. We are located at Main Mall, Embassy Chambers Unit 17.”

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Indeed Leshiba’s confidence-boosting, eye-catching facebeats are all the rage.

“Business has been good. Batswana are so supportive; some of my clients from 4 years ago have followed me to my current business as they are insistent on having me as their sole make-up artist. My older clients actually treat me like their own child,” she says, as she starts touching up Yours Truly’s face.

With over 2,600 followers on Facebook, the affable lass has build a loyal clientele that includes local celebrities and top corporates.

“Our Facebook page is ‘Glam Shades’ and ‘@Glam Shades Make-up’ on TikTok. I have worked with Berry Heart, television personalities, beauty queens such as Mrs Botswana, models like Thanolo, and Pula Power where I’ve worked on the face of Vee Mampeezy, and many of the television show’s guests. Some of my corporate clients include The Voice Newspaper, FNBB, whose team I toured with recently throughout their various branches. I do glam make-up, natural, bridal, and stage make-up. Prices will go up from P250 to P280 beginning of September,” she concludes, and adds that she wishes to work on the faces of Connie Ferguson, Nandi Madida née Mngoma, and the first Lady.

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