Ugandan families assume personal care products on the market today have been tested by the ministry of health. Unfortunately, the personal care products manufacturers remain largely unregulated. The safety of Ugandans therefore remains at the mercy of the individual producers. However, amid all this, there emerged Irene Nalubwama commonly called her brand name-MaamaLususu decided to stand out and make a difference. Stationed at Galiraaya Commercial Plaza on William Street, MaamaLususu is one of the cosmetics manufacturers who has made quality assurance the bottom line of whatever she does. Because of this, she was even recognized by CNN as an African beautifier. Red Pepper profiles her as below;
Who is MaamaLususu?
Her real name isIrene Nalubwama and she hails from Busoga sub-region. She lost her mother when she was just a toddler of five and she first met her father after she had completed her senior four. This exposed her to the difficult life which later pruned her into the brand she now boasts about at just 34 years of age. Ask any woman in Kampala about locally-mixed creams and facials and chances are they will direct you to a shop in downtown Kampala branded MaamaLususu.
The days that followed the demise of her mother were tough; she had to contribute to her own fees and upkeep by selling frozen juice locally known as ‘Balaafu’ to the other kids at school. In the evenings after school she sold roasted maize to the passersby on the streets in Jinja. In 2002, she came to Kampala and started working for a Lebanese man who imported creams and lotions from Lebanon and sold them door-to-doorbecause they were not popular. This job was not fruitful because most women were only interested in the skin lightening creams, such as Peau Claire and Miss Caroline yet her creams were natural and did not have hydroquinone. At that time she was residing in Kawempe from where she would walk to work in Kampala every morning. Consequently she learnt to mix the lotions by herself andin2008,Nalubwama had saved enough to buy cosmetics from him as an agent.To make them work better, she would add a mixture of ingredients such as ghee, honey and eggs.She began with friends as her customers and these would recommend her to their associates and relatives. She later rented a shop in the New Taxi Park before moving to Galiraaya Commercial Plaza where she still is todate.
Quality of Work
MaamaLususu mixes her creams underRaypercia Cosmetics Company. She insists that her creams do not bleach the skin. She only uses fruit ingredients. Fruits cannot lighten skin. At first she wanted to venture into bleaching creams but she dropped this idea when shereceived professional trainings by KCCA and UNBS and this is how she has managed to beat competitors. When a person develops dark patches, the first remedy is to return the skin to its original colour. She further encourages her clients to follow the specified instruction. Cosmetics come in sets. There are those for the face, the hands, feet and the body. It is wrong to use a hand lotion on the body. As a standard, she doesn’t recommend any treatment before personally checking the client’s skin to make sure it is a cosmetic problem.
MaamaLususu has managed to grow the business intoRaypercia Cosmetics Company which is fully registered and has grownintoseveral other branches in Seeta, Masaka and Jinjaand employsat least40 people.Shecruises in a Porsche and owns a comfortable home in Bulenga and a guesthouse.She hasventured into real estate business as well. She buys land, build houses and either sells them or rents them out to tenants. Notable are the rentals in Nabweru.She’s been recognized on different occasion and won several awards which are displayed at her shop.Her recognition byCNN as an African beautifier excites her greatly.MaamaLususu is prominent for lending a helping hand. She currently provides for about 30 less privileged children. She gives startup capital to the youth and also donates items to schools.
Family and work
With all this work under her management, one wonders how MaamaLususu-a wife and mother of four handles her family demands obligations. To strike a balance,she dedicates the morning hours to housework and goes to supervise her businesses in the afternoon. She ensures frequent communication with her husband, who is equally busy and they retire from work and travel back home together every evening.
None of her achievements has come on a silver platter. Her biggest challenge is the counterfeiters who don’t stop at duplicating her products. Some of them go as far as using her brand or twist her brand nameto market themselves. Clients can as well be challenging, some women impatiently want instant results. Others want to bleach their skin which she discourages yet they are too rigid to take advice – they just won’t hear you when you start to tell them to appreciate their natural color and attempt not to bleach. Others take so long or fail to pay. As we sit on the brown leather couch, she reminisces about one day in Seguku in her early days where she met a difficult client who hired herfor a full day and did not provide even a meal, at the end of the day she did not even pay for the service. TeenageMaamaLususu had only 500/- and had to aportion that between lunch and transport back to kamwokya,it was a rough day.
MaamaLususu’s only ambition is to see her children and the children she looks after come to see the best of their future. She wants them to achieve as much as she has. It’s the reason she works so hard.
Advice to the women and youth
MaamaLususuhas noticed an unnecessary competition among women especially with the way they look. The dark skinned ones then tend to admire the lighter ones. Eventually, they want to bleach. This is wrong, she encourages women to appreciate what they are and concentrate on building their families.
She also encourages the youth to agree to learn, then work hard, with vision and determination. They should not be excited by petty things as the best things in life shall come later.
By Joshua Besigye