Introducing make-up for males

Boitumelo Maswabi
SPRCUING UP: Lefatshe giving General Nankase a facebeat

Once upon a time, it was considered perfectly normal for men to wear make-up; that was until the Victorian era, the 1800s.

As a result, for much of the 20th century, the very notion of male vanity was frowned upon, associated with de-masculine and feminised men.

However, the rise of the metro man in the last two decades has seen things change again.

Mahalapye-born Gorata Lefatshe, Access TV’s make-up artist and entrepreneur, is slowly reintroducing the concept in our parts.

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Lefatshe recently went viral for beautifying an unlikely client, General Nankase (real name Orapeleng Kwatle).

Introducing make-up for males
TA-DA: The final product

The 33-year-old beautician and entrepreneur tells Voice Woman the Ramotswa social media sensation is actually one of her many male regulars.

“If men can accept wearing make-up for a couple of minutes or hours for TV or the catwalk, then certainly they’d have no qualms sprucing up for a photo shoot, let alone for special occasions,” she quips.

After nine frustrating years without work, Lefatshe decided to try her hand at the beauty industry, realising she would have to offer something different if she was to make it in the saturated market.

Introducing make-up for males
LOOKING THE PART: Gorata Lefatshe

“Suffering the brunt of unemployment for a long time taught me to become enterprising and innovative. After graduating with a BA in Software Engineering from Botho College in 2014, I struggled to find a job but was eager to learn new skills like make-up artistry, thanks to YouTube. I later sought the services of a professional to perfect my art and practiced on family and friends, including my boyfriend,” she says with a cheeky grin, adding at first her beau was uncomfortable with the idea.

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Using her man as a canvas proved a light-bulb moment for the mother-of-three, as whenever her convenient model left the house fresh from a ‘face beat’, he turned heads.

“I saw that every time he had his face done, his friends would complement him on his ‘glow’. So, I felt that to set myself apart, I could try extending my services to men although they are shy to admit they can be as vain as us women,” she notes, admitting it took time convincing her male counterparts to try out ‘touch-ups’.

“Men’s make-up isn’t as heavy or obvious as women’s, so gradually they began to warm to the idea, although they never want me to share their pictures. For example, I always offer to do grooms’ faces whenever I get booked for weddings. Some agree but most flat out refuse; they associate face beats with the alphabet community [LQBTQIA+]. That’s when I assure them that I will not change, but brighten up their appearance just to conceal imperfections, especially those with oily skin. The next thing is to do a demonstration, then they begin to appreciate. I often have to convince some ladies in the same manner; for example, many women like flamboyant lashes, but they do not suit certain faces. As a make-up artist, it is my job to advise accordingly,” she explains.

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A believer in making hay while the sun shines, the value of collaborations, and small beginnings, Lefatshe’s skillful hands have been in demand since Nankase’s video.

“I went through the comments, and many men were surprised that men do wear make-up. That video has been a blessing! I remember when General Nankase walked into the studio, I complimented him on his red suit and it was a perfect ice-breaker because some male guests refuse to wear make-up for TV, but General Nankase was happy to allow me to work on his face, and he loved it! When his manager, Neelo Rakgobo, proposed that he record the process, I jumped at the opportunity. Setswana sa re, ‘E re le gotlhabetse, o le aramele’ (seize the day). He actually advised me to talk about my work for 15 seconds. I couldn’t believe my luck, I had always wished for that kind of exposure. He said to me that he was the one behind General Nankase’s viral video at the BDF Day where he was rubbing shoulders with the army’s higher-ups. He showed me the numbers [18, 200 ‘likes’], and I was blown away. I was at the right place at the right time!” she says, adding within five minutes of posting her video, it received hundreds of views.

Every inch the go-getter, Lefatshe reveals she got the Access TV gig from her role model, Patricia Nkwane, transformational coach and motivational speaker, who has a slot at the station.

Introducing make-up for males
VERSATILE: Lefatshe believes in multiple streams of income

“I believe in the power of networking. It is true that your network determines your net worth. I sought Patricia on Facebook after observing her brilliance over time, especially as the best performing student at Botho, she scooped many awards. She introduced me to a friend of hers who also has a talk show; she needed a make-up artist at a moment’s notice. I had never done make-up for TV, so I was very nervous but I knew I couldn’t pass the opportunity. I have been with Access TV since March. Indeed, God’s timing is the best timing,” she says, adding Nkwane remains her inspiration and destiny helper as she taught her the value of creating multiple streams of income.

“I don’t only do make-up, but I own a catering company, First Lady Catering Services. I’m in the process of branding my other venture, ‘Summertime ice-pops’, which I’ve been selling unbranded for a while. I’m also a nail technician and in the supplies business. I have Nkwane to thank for all that.”

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