Words and Curation: Chanel Retief
Art Director: Lucy Nkosi Additional
Research & Reporting: Lillian Roberts
Photography: Katlego Mokubyane
Photography Assistant: Sbusiso Sigidi Studio: NewKatz Studio, Johannesburg
Videographer: Astro @astro.vsn
Videographer: Thabo Mathebula
Video Editor: Chanel Retief
Styling: Bontlefeela Mogoye | Outfits supplied by: Wanda Wear; Markhams; Kworks_design; BailebyB
Hair & Makeup: SnehhOnline Beauty
She has unmistakable style as she struts into the studio in Johannesburg for the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 cover shoot.
“What’s it like to trend every week on Twitter?” we ask.
Khethokuhle Ngonyama, popularly known as ‘Kay Yarms’, laughs: “You know, I mostly trend for my work. So, it is really affirming. I have never really been good at anything, or rather I have never considered myself good at anything, just good enough. But when people speak about it and speak about how good I am at it, I am actually emotional. It just makes me feel like ‘wow I never thought I would be good at anything’.”
Originally from the idyllic city of Durban in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, Ngonyama says she has always found herself in major cities; she has lived in Johannesburg and now is based in Mother City, Cape Town.
“I think moving around has allowed me to really get to know and connect with my audience as well as the country I reside in.”
Unlike a number of brands and businesses where the need for capital is essential for launch, Ngonyama says she did not have that problem as her business was providing a service.
“I started out as a makeup artist providing services for everyone and sharing tutorials, tips and tricks on my online platform,” she adds. “I found that I reached a wider audience and so I eventually stopped doing private makeup and moved into teaching to do makeup in the form of tutorials, both online and offline.”
And although power on social media means social capital these days, there is also the dark side to it.
“The biggest challenge is probably having to grow a thick skin; sometimes, social media isn’t pleasant and sometimes the negativity can affect you. Also becoming a public figure – I’ve always been pretty reserved and introverted and coming out of my shell has been a bit challenging for me.”
But she is convinced her popularity and growth will keep going upwards.
“I think we are just growing, especially in Africa,” Ngonyama says. “I didn’t know about [other influencers] in other African countries but the power of social media has allowed me to feel more connected to them and to know them.”