Wabosha Maxine

Wabosha Maxine.

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‘A letter to my younger self’ — How Wabosha speaks to the young and the lost

Wabosha Maxine’s signature smile exudes this warm aura that not only makes one get past the initial surprise at her diminutive stature, but also dispels any nerves one might have on meeting this phenomenal content creator.

Wabosha, who is known for her beauty and make-up artistry as well as her works with different brands, recently added a podcast, “A Letter To My Younger Self”, to her body of work. 

In the podcast, guests get to write a letter to their younger self, from which Maxine formulates questions to ask them during the hour-long show. The podcast is available on www.shaharavideos.com for Sh100.

“Being in this space where you get interviewed a lot, there are certain monotonous questions that you get asked. For instance, ‘Are your parents supportive?’ With these people, whom I assume have been interviewed a lot, I didn’t want to ask the same questions; I wanted the questions to come from them,” says Wabosha.

She didn’t want to just tell stories about how the likes of Sauti Sol’s Chimano, Vivo Activewear’s Wandia Gichuru, or Under 25’s Just Ivy (Ivy Mugo) got to be where they are; which have been told countless times. Instead, Wabosha chose to focus on when these celebrities were younger and didn’t know what they wanted to be, or where they would go, and what happened when they found themselves lost.

“The story before that (success). It was to try to encourage young people who might feel like they are not making it in their journey to please give it time. This person you’re looking at now, whom you think has really made it, was also lost at some point. Being a 20-something-year-old, I’m at the stage where I feel I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s to give myself hope that others at this stage, some at an older stage, didn’t know what they were doing too (and still found their success),” she says.

Basically, a lot of 20-somethings question whether they are on the right path; whether what they are doing is what they are meant to be doing. 

The first episode of the podcast is about Wabosha and her struggles. The podcast idea came to her in 2019, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, she couldn’t have guests on the show last year. Later, she bounced the idea to a few people and they came on board. 

Even then, it still was far from smooth sailing. Even though all she had to do was write to the guests to get them to come to the show, the podcast was shot on two location. The first location they were filming at didn’t work out too well, while the new podcast home saw them improvising a lot.

“At this point it’s already 2021 and we’ve had the idea since 2019. So we just found a room, worked with what was there and shot the show,” adds Wabosha.

This was totally new territory for Wabosha. She had been used to answering questions, not asking them. It was challenging and she had to practise a lot with fake interviews, even with herself inside her head. Her producer made her realise that she spoke too fast, and she had to hear herself speak and slow down. She also had to do a lot of voiceovers and learnt how to use different tones to express different things.

The episode that has generated the most feedback so far is the one with Wandia Gichuru, who confessed that she didn’t open a savings account until after she was divorced at 30. The entrepreneur now owns one of the most vibrant clothing retail stores in Kenya.

“Her letter was the first one we received. I think it was God’s way of telling us that we’re on the right path. We have so many girls coming back and talking about how Wandia’s story really touched them. That remains a favourite of Season One,” says Wabosha.

Though she’s hoping and praying for season two, this is dependent on the success of the current season. She would love for the podcast to be really open-ended in the future, and not only have celebrities featured, but simply people with really interesting stories to tell.

Love for beauty

Wabosha’s first love has always been beauty and make-up artistry. When Wabosha was in Class Five, her father took her and her brother to Prestige Plaza and told them they each get to pick only one toy. She remembers being torn between choosing a children’s make-up kit and a doctor’s set, and how happy she was when she eventually picked the make-up kit.

“That is the first time I remember really, really falling in love with make-up. In Class Six, I used to watch The Tyra Banks Show all the time. I would fight with my brother because he wanted to watch cartoons and I wanted to catch all the tips they were giving,” she says.

In 2015, as a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Wabosha worked as a make-up artist. But she realised that she didn’t enjoy doing make-up on others as much as when she did it on herself. So she kept it to YouTube tutorials. Her goal then was to just get the Silver Button from YouTube; her success as a Youtuber was going to be the fact that the platform knows she exists. 

Studying engineering was her meeting the expectations placed on her by society.

“There are only five courses you can take up once you score an A. At the time, I wasn’t thinking that I could pursue make-up as a career. In my third year of pursuing the course, I had fallen in love with content creating as a whole,” says Wabosha, adding that even though she knew then that she didn’t like engineering, she pursued the course to its conclusion and graduated last year.

In creating content, the one thing she has never liked is having to edit her videos. With that in mind, she realised she had to learn how to get shots right in the fewest tries. She applies this skill for her podcast shoots too. Being able to meet people whom she grew up watching on TV and some whom she currently looks up to, and working on campaigns with them, has made the journey of content creation very exciting for Wabosha.

With the onset of Covid and big brands starting to pay content creators huge sums of money to create videos to advertise their products, Wabosha says the switch to digital has been tangible.

“Companies are looking for people who can take an idea, package it in a way that is appealing and make a 15-second video that can be used on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The ‘starving creatives’ are taking over the game.” 

Doing advertising campaigns for brands is how content creators earn a lot of their money. After meeting with a client and coming to an agreement, they brainstorm to come up with the most creative way to put out the content.

“Long gone are the days where you hold up a brand and go ‘Here is your product, buy it!’ You have to look for creative ways to pass that message, but which also aligns with your own brand and audience. A 15-second video could take you half a day to shoot because of the different angles and sets you need to have,” says Wabosha.

Income streams

The one lesson Wabosha has learned from Covid is the need to diversify her sources of income. 

Bosh Drip started after brands had put a halt on a lot of the campaigns they were doing and Wabosha found herself at home and idle. Through it, she sells swimsuits, bags, earrings, pyjamas, eye wear and other outfits and accessories. Business has been really good for her and every new day is a learning experience. She sources the products, takes orders and packages them for delivery. She even designs the prints for some of the T-shirts they sell.

“I have a company that does deliveries for me and someone who handles the social media DMs and comments,” says Wabosha.

India Arie’s song I Am Not My Hair may as well have been written for Wabosha. She says she has gone through countless big chops. She has no attachment to her hair and whether she wears it long as it currently is, or her signature pixie cut, depends on how she’s feeling.

Rapid Round Questions:

What’s Wabosha’s cheat meal?

You don’t need a cheat meal if you don’t even work out in the first place. (Laughs).

Have you always been this tiny?

I have. It’s genetic; we’re all small in the family.

What’s your guilty pleasure (meal)?

I feel like I can eat anything fried, any time.

Biggest misconception about you?

That I am tall.        

Are you a celebrity within your family?

Apart from the occasional “Wow! Our celeb”, It’s still Maxine from a couple of years ago.

Where would you like to settle down?

Probably the beach … or maybe not. I don’t know if I like it there because I can go, come back and miss it again.

Best weather?

I like cold, snuggly weather. Everything in my closet is a sweater, turtleneck … things that just need to be thrown on together.

Would you like to get on TV?

Not really. I would just like for it to get on platforms that are bigger.

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