Hong Kong.  One of the most significant financial hubs in the world. In this bright, bustling, busy place is where Joy Kawuma was born and raised.


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“Hong Kong is a wonderful place, but “success” is often measured by the size of your office, the quality of your suits, or your position in the financial sector.”

For 2 years Joy worked in finance.  Each day in front of a computer screen, never feeling it was the right fit.

“I knew I needed to make a change. I have always had a passion for makeup, although I had never done makeup on anyone else before.  But it was something I always loved doing for myself.”

The question was how to turn that passion into a career.  She began researching makeup schools.  She quickly realized New York City was the perfect place for education and experience.  

“I just started reading reviews and looking into programs.  The Makeup Academy NYC by Nina MUA offered exactly what I was looking for.”


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Joy quit her full time job, and packed her luggage.  She would spend the next 5 weeks attending the Master Makeup Artistry Program at The Makeup Academy NYC in the heart of New York City.

“I didn’t know anyone in NYC, but nothing was going to stop me.  I just put any worries I had out of my mind, and did it.”

Her first day at school relieved all her fears. Joy says she could literally see and feel all the diversity in the room. “Different nationalities, different skin colors, different backgrounds and cultures.”

She says her classmates and instructors made the program not only fun, but exciting, by building her confidence to grow as an artist.

“I realized how important the skills were that I was learning. During one of the 3 photoshoots we did during the program, the model I had hired arrived with significant scarring from acne. I was intimidated at first, but once I put the skills I learned during the program to use, I was able to create a beautiful application of makeup that looked amazing in photos. It immediately gave me the confidence I needed to do this as a career.”

Joy realized this is what real life looks like, and as a professional MUA she now has the knowledge and know how to approach clients of all skin types.


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During her time in NYC, Joy and her Master Program classmates were able to take part in NY Fashion Week in February 2020. Real experience that prepared her for working on models in a fast paced environment.

“Fashion Week was an amazing experience! Without the connections through the Makeup Academy, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I am so grateful I was able to do this before heading back to my home country to start my career.”

At completion of the program, Joy excitedly packed up her bags to head home to Hong Kong and start working as a Makeup Artist.

But when she returned, she quickly realized that the hustle of the city and the crowded streets wasn’t where she felt inspired. Instead, she joined her sister in Bali, Indonesia; a place she feels the elements of nature inspiring her work.

“Lots of people visit Bali for many reasons. It’s a destination area with lots of opportunity for this craft. I am so thankful I get to provide makeup services for those on Holiday or modeling shoots in such a beautiful setting. I really have found my dream career.”
Check out Joy’s work below and follow her on instagram at joy_kawuma.

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