I started my little beauty space, to occupy my time and escape reality with peer pressure.
My name is Vasa Selupe, I started my small beauty service when I was 17 years of age (2018). I am a sole trader in the business world, and this is my youth entrepreneurial story.
My childhood wasn't the same as other kids when I grew up. I was adopted, and grew up in what I would call an 'abusive environment'. My grandparents raised me together with other grandkids, and personally, I felt like the odd one out. I say this because the rest of the grandkids had their parents present, and then there was me and my younger sister whose parents weren’t.
Later in my teenage years, I had trouble with my education. I experienced getting expelled from several high schools due to me falling out of track because of peer pressure. I knew I was doing well in school, but because of my troubled ways involving peers, I’ve experienced being put in different schools due to it. However, even though I had my struggles in high school, I still managed to pass my examinations, and for that I’m grateful.
While studying, the idea of doing make-up came to mind. To be honest, I enjoy the process of doing it, even on myself. I always loved the feeling of getting glammed up and looking different from others.
When I was in form five, that’s when my household knew what I do as a business. I practice make-up on people, myself, and I also practice through online tutorials on YouTube. As I progressed from then, I earned more income with what I did, then I started to bring in clients to my house. I did this as a way of showcasing to my grandparents what I do to earn money. It was a way of proving myself to them and letting them know that the money I have is hard-earned, not stolen.
However, as a youth entrepreneur, I do come across challenges with what I do, and one of them is people underestimating me. With what I do, people think that I don't do much, but they don't see the skills and knowledge behind it. They don't know what I am capable of and the reasons behind doing what I do.
Moreover, negative comments can sometimes get to me. Yes, I know people will always have something negative to say. Sometimes they say that I do 'too much', sometimes they say I don't do what they're telling me, but from these mistakes, I take it as a learning objective. I use their feedback to better myself for future clients.
Also, make-up equipment's can be costly here in Tonga. People would put up ridiculous prices for make-up equipment's. But that's okay, as time goes, I'm still getting more clients and that wouldn't be a problem.
On the other hand, I have rewarding moments of experience in my make-up business. The most rewarding for me and the experience I’m most happy about is the opportunity to do one of the Royal family’s make-ups. At the moment, I am doing the Hon Lupepau’u Tuita’s (the eldest daughter of Princess Pilolevu and Noble Tuita) make-up. I would always do her make-up and that's how my small business skyrocketed from doing her make-up.
I’m also grateful that, not only that I got to do Hon Lupepau’u Tuita’s make-up; I also gained the opportunity of doing her sisters make-up in the past. With that being an incredible feeling already, I was also blessed enough to once did the Princess Royal Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita’s make-up. I am just so grateful and happy that I even got to that level. I am thankful that people accept me and what I love to do. It is also a rewarding feeling as a youth entrepreneur make-up artist to see clients happy with the make-up that I put on them.
Nevertheless, every entrepreneur needs the motivation to keep going. For me, there’s a lot that motivates me, but on top of the list is ‘home’. I always look back at home with the thought of 'providing'. I am the only one from my family that managed to finish high school and at the same time, have a small make-up business going. Resulting from my make-up business, I managed to pay for my form five and form six school fees during high school.
However, I also do what I do, for my future. I want to break the cycle of depending on others in my family. I want to take action now by practising being independent so that I may be able to take care of myself one day. Maybe, when the time comes, when I’m no longer depending on my household, I would manage to help someone else.
At the moment, I am studying business at Tupou Tertiary Institute (TTI). My course will finish in 2022, and I would then focus more on what I do. Maybe I would get a job for the experience, and do this on the side. We’ll see how it goes. But for future goals, I’m saving up to have my own shop for make-up clients.
My advice for youths out there that is starting a business, or even thinking about starting is to just START ALREADY. Whatever that you think is your passion or talent, start utilizing it. Just take small steps, such as myself. Once I had the idea of doing make-up, I started doing it with what I had at the time. I didn’t have much but I started. ‘Starting’ is the most important part. Don’t delay your dreams, and don’t listen to what people have to say. Everything is possible, you just got to have a little faith in yourself and do what YOU want to do.