Beauty influencer, Kay Yarms changes the game with just one hashtag

Kay Ngonyama (PHOTO: Kay Ngonyama/Instagram)
Kay Ngonyama (PHOTO: Kay Ngonyama/Instagram)

Her name means “choose the good” and it seems she did just that when Khethokuhle Ngonyama left her accounting studies at Wits to become a beauty influencer. “It wasn’t very simple though, I went through quite the journey before actually finding my passion and learning that I’m good at it,” the 26-year-old tells us.

Read More: Influencer De Luxe: Kefilwe Mabote pens advice on claiming the woman you want to become in new book

Kay Yarms, as she’s fondly known by all her followers on social media and subscribers on YouTube, completed her matric studies at Durban Girls’ High School and went on to pursue an accounting degree at Wits – but while there, she wasn’t happy with the path she had chosen, so she decided to drop out and go back home to Durban in 2016.

Her love for beauty began while she was still at Wits, “I’m the only girl at home, and my mother isn’t a big makeup fanatic, she’s always feared it messing up my skin, so I never got to explore that world until I lived in a girls’ res in school – that’s when I was exposed to all of these things. Even then, makeup wasn’t the first thing; I just enjoyed doing my hair a lot and stuff.”

But soon enough, she got into makeup and discovered that she’s quite talented in it too. “The girls would ask me how I did certain things like eyebrows or whatever and teaching them how to do it really gave so much satisfaction. I’d watch YouTube tutorials to learn different techniques,” she tells us.

Her journey with makeup continued after arriving home in Durban – in no time, Khethokuhle started getting clients and her brand was born. In 2017 she started her YouTube channel, and although she didn’t really give it much attention because of how busy she was with clients, it was certainly was a step in the right direction.

Read More: Social media influencer Keabetswe Jan bags her first acting gig on SABC 2’s ‘Lithapo’

“I just grew and grew, I’d do makeup looks on my own face and people on Instagram loved them. My followers grew and so did my channel,” she says, beaming with pride. “I remember the first brand I worked with was Maybelline and I was so clueless when it came to rate cards and all that, but I was so grateful to God for guiding me to my path – all the credit goes to Him.”

Most recently, after the first phase of the lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kay decided to challenge her followers and everyone who was interested, to beat their faces and try out new makeup techniques for 21 days through the #21beats4kay hashtag.

“I always do my makeup on Instagram Live to teach my followers how to do it step-by-step. During one of those, one of my followers suggested that I join the #21beats challenge that international makeup artists were doing. But I noticed that it was just for makeup artist, so I gave it a little twist.”

Kay used the hashtag to encourage her followers to show her if they were learning anything on her live tutorials. “I wanted to see if they were actually learning anything, and I thought it would be fun. It was certainly a coping mechanism for me because before the lockdown was announced, I was already in quarantine for 16 days because I had travelled abroad.”

“I just really liked how beating my face and seeing my talent on my face did to me – I wanted to share that with everyone else. Honestly, this is such a tough time for everyone, so if we can help each other in any way, why not.”

For 21 days, men and women from different parts of Africa and some parts of the world did their makeup and were encouraged to try out different trends through the hashtag. “It felt so good seeing other people interacting with one another, teaching each other and gassing each other’s skills up. It was all so positive and honestly, that wasn’t me – it was God.”

Her following grew by ridiculous numbers and she’s already at almost 55 000 subscribers on YouTube.

Her advice to small or upcoming YouTubers?

“Don’t worry too much about the right equipment and expensive products. Use what you have and be consistent. Trust me, there’s so much space in the market – don’t listen to naysayers. Just start, do it. The key is to be authentic, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else, it won’t work.”

So, now what?

“I’ve learned to just trust in God and let Him guide me, but I’d really like to open an academy soon, to teach makeup and beauty in general. I have a deep passion for teaching, so I’m planning to do that.”

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24