Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

The Early Days

When I first started out as a makeup artist, I worked with a team of freelance artists from Bobbi Brown. I call it my “sweat shop” experience. We traveled the East Coast, working ten hour days with a half hour “complimentary” lunch (cucumber and alfalfa sandwiches on very small squares of wheat bread).

BB was just hitting the market and women were crazed for it. Lines that snaked from the counter to the stores’ exits were common.

I’d easily advise 40 – 50 women a day on lip and cheek colors; later, dragging myself out of Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s so tired I could hardly feel my legs. Repeat the next day.

Most events I worked were manned by the company’s National Makeup Artist – a position created right under the title GOD in beauty retail. This person isn’t necessarily a better artist than the rest of the team; he (it’s always a he) is a better marketing tool.

The National at the time was...challenging. No, that’s way too kind. He was hateful. Think army sergeant who makes you do 5,000 push-ups for sneezing. Now you’re getting a picture of the National. After work, I and the other artists gathered at local cafes or bars to construct tiny brown voodoo dolls in his likeness.

To avoid his ridicule, I learned to “beat a face” and sell $300 worth of makeup in fifteen minutes.

But there were good moments during my retail days. The other artists were awesome. I became friends with girls and guys who did spontaneous, crazy things. Like “Jackie”, who suddenly decided to get breast implants. She came to work with noticeably bigger boobs, prompting immediate comments from the rest of us. The gay guys, in particular, were fascinated. One asked to see them. Jackie took him in the stock room and lifted her shirt.

He reported that they looked incredibly real. They must have because her appeal to male customers skyrocketed, as did her sales. We all wanted fake boobs. But the idea of holding up a set of Ds with nothing in my tummy but cucumber sandwiches seemed daunting. I skipped the implants.

I went on from that job to Face Stockholm – a crazy, wonderful, glitter and fake eyelash brand. It was my anti-Brown experience. There wasn’t a neutral hue in the entire store. But there was a steady stream of super models and celebs – Helena Boham Carter shopped there (she’s really tiny), as did LaToya Jackson (she’s really odd).

I worked at Face for a year before signing with my agent and moving into the Big Leagues, where to my surprise, applying glitter and fake lashes, along with “beating a face” in fifteen minutes turned out to be great skills during Fashion Week. And everyone commented on how svelte I was. It was all those cucumber and alfalfa sandwiches.

Any retail makeup artists out there? Let’s hear your stories. Retail beauty customers, hug a makeup artist today.

*I have no idea who the person is in the shot above, but I thought it'd be a fun addition to a post about makeup and fake boobs.