Have you ever dreamt of making your own makeup? Having that foundation matched perfectly to you? Or making your own lip stains and lipstick colors and scents? Well, that’s exactly what Jatu Suwareh did for herself and for Gambian Women.
Her decision to start her own makeup brand was triggered by the challenges she faced to find the right shade of foundation. As a young black woman in the US, where she’s been living with her family for many years, she realized that it was hard to find foundations with the right undertones for black women. They were either too light or too dark for her skin tone.
This self-proclaimed former tomboy, born in Bakau and raised in Kanifing Estate, wanted to try makeup to look like celebrities during her college years. She quickly found out that finding a foundation that matched her skin was an issue. After finishing her undergrads and started working in the health field, she started doing more research personally as to why she couldn’t find the right shade. She soon found out that she was not the only black woman with the problem. Jatu then embarked on a personal journey to launch research on the possible right foundations for women of color. She started mixing different types of foundations in order to find the right shade for her skin color. Along the way she discovered and contacted a US-based company which trained her on how to mix foundation, lipstick and the mineral powders.
With certificate from the company, she moved on to set up the Emoug Custom Blending brand to help every woman get what she needs. Jatu’s Goal is to build a makeup manufacturing company in The Gambia ‘because there is none in the Sub-region, everything we consume in terms of cosmetics is imported. Women don’t really know what they are putting on their bodies and there are a lot of plastics and chemicals in these products that are not so healthy for the skin’.
“They wanted to make me my custom shade, but then I decided to make a deal with them. They teach me how making it and I buy and use their base, seemed fair to me. It’s a very time consuming process and sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing it. To be honest, I didn't even see it as a possible business I just wanted the right makeup for myself.”
“They wanted to make me my custom shade, but then I decided to make a deal with them. They teach me how making it and I buy and use their base, seemed fair to me. It’s a very time consuming process and sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing it. To be honest, I didn’t even see it as a possible business I just wanted the right makeup for myself.”
Three years later, after her friends demand for this custom product started increasing Jatou decided to turn this new hobby into a business. “There were moments I wanted to quit because it’s so time consuming and it’s hard to make profit, and I’m self-funded and I do EMOUG after 16 hour shifts to fund it.” Jatou focuses on the big picture, however, with the goals of a coming home and opening a custom blending store next year and coming home eventually to build a manufacturing factory the sacrifice is well worth it.