In a world where social media dictates beauty standards and women are often forced to fit in rather than stand out, having body positive role models is key. From celebrating darker skinned women in cosmetics to showing young girls to love themselves no matter the size- Yvonne Akakandelwa stands to become Zambia’s very own Tess Holliday. Her infectious laugh, cheerful spirit and dedication to making women feel great about themselves through make up is beyond praise worthy. Her work is amoung the best our country has to offer. This week I had the pleasure of getting to know the woman behind the make up magic.
Q: Briefly describe who you are and what you do!
A: Yvonne is a fun, loving and hard working young woman. 5th born in a family of 6, newly wed and a self taught makeup artist
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A: The desire to see every woman confident and happy. I’m always satisfied when I see huge smiles on my clients..
Q: What goals do you hold professionally and personally? What drives you to achieve those goals?
Using my hands as a means of change.. I’m constantly pushing and learning new techniques in my field.
I always offer makeup lessons to those interested because I want to see a society where women are not mare house wives but great entrepreneurs.
Q: What led you to get into the profession/role you’re in at the moment?
Myself. I actually wrote a letter to my future self when I was in 5th grade saying I wanted to be a makeup artist . The idea of creating different things out of color fascinated me growing up.
Q: Who does your family consist of currently?
I come from and extremely big family. Both my parents are alive, I have 5 siblings from mom and 10 from dad. In my Lozi culture, every male is my brother/dad/grandpa and every female is my mom/sister/grandmother. So I have an extremely big family. I recently got married to an amazing Man.
Q: When you’re not working or pursuing your passion as a make-up artist, what do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
A: I love movies, I literally watch them whenever I’m free
Q: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A: a cat, very soft, smart and focused.
Q: If you had a bucket list with 5 things to do before you die, what would they be?
- Have 4children
- Build my mum and dad big mansions
- Build and empire where I can employ thousands of people
- Own an orphanage
- Travel the world
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Born and raised in Zambia’s Western province (Mongu) until I was about 14 years, then moved to Lusaka . Been moving up and down between Lusaka and Western province since then.
Q: How was life growing up for you?
A: It was great. A bit hard at times because I had to move from one town to the other looking for the best schools in the country
Q: What did your parents do and how did they inspire you to be the person you are today?
A: Both my parents are commercial farmers. My mom is also social worker … They taught me how to work extremely hard and not depend on the government for survival
Q: Did you have any other mentors growing up?
A: Definitely my oldest sister Charity. I call her my ‘deputy mom’. She raised us with mom and I will be forever grateful.
Q: What’s your educational background?
A: I did my pre school to grade 9 in western province at Limulunga Primary School, Mulambwa Primary School, Nkeyema Primary School, Senanga Primary School and St John’s Secondary School (a lot I know). I did my high school at Kabulonga Girls Secondary School and finally Matauka Secondary School.. Then I went to the University of Zambia to do my Bachelor’s degree. Working on my Masters soon
Q: Who in your life inspired you to be who you are today?
A: My mom, my oldest sister and my immediate young sister
Q: Do you have any life changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to doing what you’re doing today? If so elaborate.
A: Oh yes, I have always been a big girl and that led to some low self esteem. For many years I felt unwanted and unloved this led to me being a loner and the only time I would be happy was when I was playing with anything to do with painting.
MAKEUP became my safe Haven.
Q: What are some of the biggest life obstacles you’ve faced in life? How did you overcome them?
A: Living in different homes away from my family during my school days was hard. But what kept me going was the fact that there was prosperity at the end of it all.
Loosing loved ones… Death took a toll on my life but also led me closer to My God.
The words in Psalms 74:26 keep me going
“My flesh and my heart may Fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”
Q: Being a woman that people look up to what words of wisdom would you give to future generations of girls in your field to come?
A: Never give up on your talent, there will be obstacles and times where you will feel like giving up but when the going gets tough- get going.
It’s hard to make it big in Zambia out of your God given talent but it is possible. I find happiness in working with my hands than in an office! But if you feel the corperate world is for you, honey go get it!
Q: What life philosophy do you live by everyday which determines your success?
A: ”It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then”.
Many are times when we want to dwell on the past and allow that to predict our future.. I have realized that dwelling on the past causes more harm than good… In whatever situation I’m faced with, I always forge ahead
Q: What vision do you have for yourself? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years or more?
A: Hmmmmmm well I definitely see myself as a mom, an influential person…
I see myself owning a beauty school and definitely adding positivity to my country and the world at large.
Q: The core belief of feminism is that of social, political and economic equality and equal opportunity of the sexes. What are your views on feminism?
A: Well I believe Feminism is about allowing women to live freely as compared to the inferiority we are currently subjected to. By freely, I mean bring able to what men can do without being judged.
Q: Do you think feminism is necessary in Zambia?
A: Of course!
However, I think we are dwelling too much on tradition- to a point where women are considered underdogs. (No offense to our traditions’ ). I feel there should be some form of equality towards women, I don’t mean that women should compete with men, I just feel we as women should be allowed to lead and be heard.
Q: Do you think feminism could empower women in Zambia to reach their full potential?
A: Definitely. I believe more women will be encouraged to pursue what society considers appropriate for males only.
We live in a country where, we as women are subjected to house chores and lower positions. That has led to most women not following their dreams in fear of being judged
With Feminism, all this could change.
Q: Describe feminism in one word!
Q: If you could go back in time and write a letter to a much younger you, what words of wisdom would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?
Dear Yvonne, life is not as easy as many portray out there.. You have to work hard for what you believe in, don’t let nobody tell you otherwise. You are beautiful, your are strong and you can do everything you put your mind to. Do not be afraid to tackle difficult situations, there is always a ligh at the end of the tunnel.
Love and appreciate your friends and family every time. Focus on yourself dreams and turn them into reality and lastly Never ever forget to Pray….!
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli
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