Q&A: Beauty Ambassador Eryca Freemantle Sets Up School In Nigeria

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

In less than five years Eryca Freemantle, a British citizen, has travelled to Nigeria more than 18 times. She says she has found where she belongs and want to help in developing a vibrant beauty industry on the country. She estimates that Africa Africa only contribute about $10 million dollar to the worlds total $40 billion beauty industry, but has potential to do much more than that.

Freemantle started her career as a makeup artist literally by accident. A near fatal car crash in her earlier years of life almost took away her ability to walk and left her with more that 200 scars. By sheer will she managed to recover and become one of the best makeup artists in UK.

Eryca, who’s also a motivational speaker, has worked with many high-profile celebrities during her career, including Seal, Yasmin Le Bon, the late Michael Jackson and the late Whitney Houston. She is now in the process of expanding her makeup school to Nigeria. AFKInsider met her in Lagos, Nigeria, during the social media week and this is what she had to say about her African venture.

AFKInsider: Who is Eryca Freemantle and what does she do?

Eryca: My Official title is ‘Global Beauty Ambassador’ and I got that after I won an award from the powers that be in the UK in the industry. It is global beauty ambassador for women of color. my knowledge for the beauty needs and make up artistry for women of color surpasses anybody else. I’ve been in the business for nearly 35 years.

I started off as a makeup artist, doing make up for upcoming stars at the time, one of them being Seal and I ended up becoming his makeup artist. Seal went on to become the biggest star in the world. There after I’ve worked with makeup artists for people like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Yasmin Le Bon and worked on many fashion shows, TV shows, publications.

But what I found after doing make up for all this celebrities is all well and good, but it didn’t give me that much satisfaction so I decided to teach people how to become makeup artists so I enrolled on  a makeup course to find out what it was like to be a student. That course I passed with distinctions. London Collage of Fashion is the prestigious in the world so I went to them with an idea of doing make up for black women and teaching white women in UK on how to do makeup and cater for the needs of black women. They agreed. I wrote a few courses for the collage and taught those courses and they went down very well.

After a couple of years of doing that I realize I’m making all this money for somebody else so why can’t I do it for myself? So I turned it on its head and I started teaching for myself to women that do not necessarily want to become makeup artists but want to enhance their natural beauty and to those that want to become makeup artists.

I’ve been teaching for about 28 to 30 years. Throughout my teaching career I still doubled to do makeup for celebrities.

AFKInsider: What made you start a career as a makeup artist?

Eryca: Before all of that how I started in the industry is I got involved in a major car accident. That accident left me with no hair, over 200 scars on my face and a near amputation of my left leg. I was told I will never walk again. But obviously I’m here and I’m talking to you and the doctors got it wrong. However, I had to fight for who I am and what I represented and I came through that barrier. But with the scars on my face there was no makeup available in the UK for black women, much less black women that had demarcations and needed the imperfections to be made perfect. So I got some mud from the garden, mixed it with water and put it on my face. That was the first ever experience with makeup. It didn’t look good, but it made me feel better because what it did is it covered the scars for a little while.

Over the years I started working with makeup companies then I realized that I still had that skill of being able to look at a product and see what’s right, what shade fits what person, what tone and I realized that there was a lot of Ignorance. So I started to do product development for makeup lines with makeup companies. Up to today that’s what I still do. I’ve worked with some multinational brands that I can’t say their names because its signed under contract.

AFKInsider: Why are you moving to Africa at this point of your career?

Eryca: As you know I come from the UK, I was born in the UK, I schooled in the UK and my career started off in the UK. However, I’m a true black woman. Not just the external esthetics but also internally. As I was growing up more and more I realized that I didn’t belong but I could not do anything about it. I don’t think I was brave enough to do anything about it. Then I had my first encounter with Africa. I first went to South Africa, then I realized that there are people that look like me but I notice in South Africa what was missing for me was that spirit. But I still looked at the country and liked what I saw and felt an affiliation. A couple of year later I was invited to Gambia by the president to do a fashion show and it was really nice. I liked the spirit of the people, I liked the country and the environment.