With access to more fashion and beauty options than ever before, it’s hard to stand out, especially in the world of so-called Instagram boutiques. Trained fine artist and beauty extraordinaire Nubia Silver has turned her eye for detail and immense creativity into a full-time business. Using quirky colours, styling and a high fashion approach to beauty, her brands Nubia Silver Hair and Nubia Silver Beauty have put her on the map as one the most forward-thinking and sought after hair and makeup artists in South Africa.
I chat with her about her beauty business. Here’s how the exchange transpired:
Talk to me about Nubia Silver Hair and Nubia Silver MakeUp/Beauty – where did the idea come from and how did you get started?
Nubia Silver Beauty has evolved many many times to becomes what it is today. ‘More Than Just Makeup’ was my Tumblr name and I was posting all my pictures on Tumblr at the time. I then made a page on Facebook called More Than Just Makeup.
I started getting some positive feedback and approached my mom about starting a business. I wanted to be self-sufficient, so I started Nubia Silver Hair. Prior to that, I thought about doing lingerie, going to China to teach English, getting a job as an art teacher, but in the end, I decided to do hair.
There are a lot of local SA hair and makeup creatives on the scene. Who has contributed to your brand’s success?
My mom – she has really invested in me. She does everything bro. I’m successful today because of my Mom. FAKA – the combination of Desire and Felt Gucci. They have taken my brand to Europe, Asia, America. It’s been wild and amazing to see. Friends, people I’ve met, all the way from high school to now. Relationships are a key part of this.
What are some of the challenges related to being a creative entrepreneur? How do those relate specifically to doing creative businesses in South Africa?
Personally, my biggest challenge is that I’m a very sensitive artist. I’m sensitive about my work and protective/possessive of my things. My biggest challenge is allowing my work to be seen by people in all its rawness and imperfections. From a business perspective, opportunities are very slim. People are looking for a specific niche or whatever’s trending at the time – but it might not be your thing or aligned to your artistic signature.
I know you studied at Michaelis – how have you been able to use your Fine Art background in your work?
Michaelis teaches you how to be a fine artist, how to conceptualise art and how symbols affect the brain and emotions of the human being. So the fact that I am able to manipulate symbols and people’s minds is super scary but it’s also a superpower I’m grateful to have.
What does your creative process look like?
I put on some series or play some music, and in the moment of entering into the studio, I get in tune with how I feel that day, how I feel, what makes me happy or sad. Sometimes I’m inspired by something that I’ve seen during the day – be it on Instagram or Pinterest (I love Pinterest as a creative reference).
If you had no constraints on money, time or location – what other projects would you pursue?
I would definitely be creating more Avantgarde wigs that can be worn in conjunction with fashion shows – wigs that I could have on the runway; in communication with the garments. I think I’d also love to penetrate the music video space. To be honest, if I had all the money in the world, I’d be a musician too. As an artist, I’m mostly inspired by musicians and their expressions of visuals and sound.
Any last advice for other creative entrepreneurs?
Despite the state of your mental illness, know that it’s possible to continue, to grow and to be successful. I’ve had many days of self-doubt, many days of depression; I’ve fought through anxiety, but despite all of that I’m still here today thriving, working, growing and learning.
*Responses may have been edited for length and clarity