Category Archives: makeup

Dear Fashion Fair…, An Open Letter

Dear Fashion Fair,

When are you gonna step up to the plate and be the black version of Estée Lauder, LVMH, or better yet the beauty industry’s answer to “Wakanda”?

It is the last day of Black History Month, and while I have spent months thinking long and hard about the importance of having more than just representation and inclusivity for blacks in the world of beauty, I can not help but think about you!

Fashion Fair, your company started in the Windy City (my hometown), and in 1958 you hit the ground running! You created a traveling fashion show which showcased black beauty all over the world ( even my cousin had an opportunity to slay the Fashion Fair runways)and from your super successful fashion shows you created a cosmetics brand.

Your products were distributed in Macys, Dillard’s, Belk, and several other high end department stores which was no small feat! That accomplishment was major because your brand was the first and only brand created for and by people of African descent that was showcased and distributed by major mass department stores. Your cosmetic counters showcased beauty campaigns with beautiful black models and hired black women and men as makeup artists making women of color feel welcome in an otherwise cold industry where people of color are often ignored. You always had an amazing shade range in complexion products which still in 2018 is a major problem in the beauty industry at large.

In the last five years I have witnessed the sad decline of your brand including watching your loyal customers be forced to shop with other brands because they grew frustrated and tired of not being able to purchase their Fashion Fair products on numerous occasions due to stock issues. I have also watched your counters be removed from many Macys stores, which to my surprise has left me with a personal feeling of defeat. Recently, I grew angry and frustrated when I learned about Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty partnership with LVMH because I could not help but think of what that partnership could have looked like if it was with you, and what it could have done for your brand.

The movie Black Panther and the fictional African nation, “Wakanda“, helped me and many people of African descent across the globe understand that ownership over representation and inclusion is of great importance, and it also gave us a visualization of what that ownership could look like.

I know given your amazing history, and great products, that Fashion Fair cosmetics has the potential to be our “Wakandan” version of a large beauty conglomerate, and I am writing this open letter to let you know that you have many beauty soldiers willing and ready to help your brand do what is necessary to realize your fullest potential!

On this last day of Black History Month, I truly hope you read this letter and absorb all the love and concern that I tried my best to articulate.

Sincerely,

@makeupinblackandwhite

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Planet of the Apps/ How Big Beauty Brands Can Level Up

Alright so I’ve written about how on-demand beauty apps are about to change the world of beauty as we know it, and I have not talked about how large beauty brands can retain clients during the disruption. The answer is super simple!! All major beauty brands that have stores and counters need to do is create apps of their own to compete!! (Major key alert) 

In last weeks post I talked about how many brands have a certain aesthetic, and how people choose what brands they buy, and what artists and counters they visit based on that aesthetic. It is only fitting for brands to pimp their aesthetics out, train special teams of artists, and develop on demand beauty apps for their specific brands to allow these special artists to create their aesthetic and expand and strengthen brand awareness!

The problem that all of these new on demand beauty apps face is that the general consumers who can use them don’t really know if the people that will be sent to provide hair, makeup, or nail services are any good. If the app was a Mizani app, women of color would be all over it because it is a known fact that Mizani specializes in multiethnic hair. 

Imagine if MAC cosmetics had an uber like app, where you could request an artist to come to you! If you were participating in an avant-garde photoshoot you would feel comfortable with the artist because more than likely the artist that they would send would have several artistry certifications under their belt making them a perfect fit to handle any style of makeup you want. 

If you know you dislike heavy unnatural looking makeup you could request services from a brand like Bobbi Brown or Laura Mercier. If you wanted a step by step approach where everything was organized in one makeup planner, you could use the “Trish McEvoy mobile beauty app”. 

Let’s face it, Macys stores are performing terribly and will be closing between 60-80 stores this year, Nordstrom has also started closing stores, and if it wasn’t for Sephora, JC Penny would have gone bankrupt all together. People are not shopping in department stores any more, so all of these department store brands have to start hiring newer, fresher minds to think fast and think outside of the box! 

Right now is the survival of the fittest, and one of the ways that the well established department store brands can compete is to create on demand beauty divisions of their companies!! Ready, set, goooo!!!!

Planet of the Apps/A Retailers Worst Nightmare 

With on demand beauty apps popping up in the already super saturated beauty industry, retailers will have yet another force to reckon with. “What we think is never going to stop is the acceleration of the adoption of technology” says Shiseido’s global chief digital officer Alessio Rossi, and I could not agree more! 

The truth is that if brick and mortar businesses want to have a standing chance against this “acceleration of the adoption of technology”, the in store experiences are gonna have to be innovative in the way technology can be used to enhance the customers in store experience as well. Besides that, companies are gonna have to dust off their customer service training manuals and retrain all employees working on the sales floors. 

Customer service seems to be a fleeing thought in the minds of big beauty brands, and even now when we are moments away from being able to live like The Jetsons, customer service was, is, and will always be the most important factor helping consumers determine where and how they will spend their money. Now let’s examine some of the things retailers can do to provide impactful customer experiences to compete with these on demand beauty apps!

First things first! Many employees that are now hired by makeup brands with beauty counters and stores do not hire people with previous makeup artistry experience. I repeat they do not have any prior experience! Now I know you are probably thinking wtf??!! While everyone these days claims they are an artist, it is difficult to find enough talented ones who are willing to work crazy hours including holidays, nights, and weekends for little pay and subpar health benefits or none at all. Those factors force brands to hire non artists who sometimes have little to no retail experience to work at brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown, Lancôme, etc…

There are obvious implications here, but let’s just deal with the most obvious one. How can a beauty counter compete with on demand beauty apps if their “artists” are not artists? Simple answer, they can’t. 

Beauty brands across the board need to really focus on artistry programs that define their specific aesthetic (nothing grinds my gears more than when I walk past a Bobbi Brown counter and the staff looks like they are competing in RuPauls Drag Race!), and train them on how to replicate that aesthetic on clients of all I repeat all ethnic backgrounds, ages, and skin types. 

Along with basic makeup application skills and techniques, customer service has got to be stepped up. I have witnessed more cellphone calls, Snapchat videos, and selfie taking while ignoring customers, and it has got to stop. I have also seen clients come in wanting their makeup done and witnessed the staff refuse them because they didn’t feel like doing it! Nobody is perfect, but in today’s society where getting anything is an app away, there is little to no room for error. 

The next thing that companies can do to strengthen their employees ability to gain loyal customers is introduce technology in effective ways. Sephora is a reigning champion when it comes to this because they have created a device that you hold to a clients skin to determine a foundation match in every brand they carry. 

Lancôme just introduced a new machine that customizes and mixes a clients foundation right at the counter for $80. 

Those simple things provide a new innovative experience on counter. What can brands do that do not have gizmos and gadgets? Allow their employees to use cell phones to do the work! After matching a client for a foundation they can use either their phone or the clients to take a photo to check and make sure there is no flashback, weird undertone, or ashy cast on the skin. The cell phone could also be used to pick looks that clients choose from for makeup applications. Oh and let’s not forget the social media beauty gurus! Our lovely millenials live and breathe social media and in some cases will not make a purchase or let anyone touch their face unless the product or technique has been endorsed by a social media personality. 

Since that is the case, clients should be trained on the latest trends and products used by the top 20 influencers so they can be prepared for the questions regarding them. Cell phones should also be used to communicate all of these things because they can provide visuals for these trends and products leaving no room for error.

I will continue to provide suggestions for what beauty brands can do to compete with beauty apps in part three of this post. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Hidden Figures:Why Black Women are Flocking to Makeup Brushes Like Black Men Flock to Basketballs

We are three days into 2017, and this post is long over due!  Now some of you might have read the title of this post, and thought to yourself “Now what in the hell does the movie Hidden Figures have to do with makeup or basketball?  My answer is pretty simple, one word even.  The word is exposure.  Keep reading to smell what I’m cooking!

I went to high school in the suburbs of Chicago, and when it was confirmed that I was going to that suburban high school, I was not excited.  I had gone to public schools in Chicago for most of my life, and I was afraid to attend school in a totally new environment.  Luckily I had a mother who was very active in my life and made sure that I went to good public schools with magnet programs and teachers that cared about their students.  I also had classmates that were mostly black, and came from middle class backgrounds like me.  Now I was considered a little different because I was a dancer and occasionally traveled to perform in different states and in one instance outside of the country, but other than that and my natural hair (got my first “perm” in the eighth grade) everything was gravy.  I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class, but I was one of the smartest, and we had several teachers, who also happened to be black, who pushed our little brains to their capacity. Long story short, I was privileged and I ain’t even know it!  I had educated teachers who looked like me and cared about me, and at this point we all know that is not common in many urban cities especially as far as children of color are concerned.

Upon entering high school in the burbs, I had to take a placement exam so that I could be “placed” in the proper classes.  I tested well, and it was recommended based on my results that I take a few honor classes, English and Science were two.  While my test scores said one thing, my white female counselor sang a different tune.  She argued that because I came from a city school that perhaps the level of education that I had was not up to par, and that I should take all basic level courses.  Chile, she clearly did not know my mother! My mom came up to the school, demanded that I be placed in the classes I tested to be in, and that was that.  I ended up taking honors English, and I cannot remember what happened with Science.  Even though I knew that there was an attempt to deny me a certain level of education at this new suburban school, I still did not grasp all of the implications of what had occurred.  Some time in grade school I had gotten the idea that  because I was a girl, could dance my ass off, act, write poetry, and sing if forced, that math and science did not matter as much. I heard someone say that if you were good in reading and english that you often were not good at math and science, so thats what I chose to believe.  Oh and I also learned that girls were mostly good at those first two subjects, and boys were good with the later.  Anyways, I took highschool somewhat seriously, but I was lazy. Real lazy.  I remember taking Chemistry my sophomore year and daydreamed pretty much every class.  I never did my homework on time, I never really studied for pop quizzes, and I did just enough to get by.  The one saving grace was that somehow I always managed to get A’s or B’s on the mid terms and finals.  I remember my white male teacher always looking at me with a ton of dissappointment in his eyes, and I knew that it was because he wanted me to put forth more effort.  He must have seen potential in me(which went way over my head), but he never articulated his frustrations in a way that I could understand.  I was a teenager kind of going through the motions to get through high school, and graduate.

I was an artist!  Everybody who knew me knew that while I kept to myself, and did not have a ton of friends, I could out dance/perform anybody, and I was cool with that.  While my mom did not allow me to slack too much, she made it very clear to me that the choices and decisions that I was making as far as my academics were concerned were mine to make and that I would have to live with the consequences of those choices and decisions.  She also made it very clear that I would be attending somebodies college immediately following high school graduation, so I knew I had to get it together, or I would have hell to pay!  My mother did not play!

Fast forward to 2017 I am a full blown freelance make up artist living in the nations capitol, which also happens to be one of the most expensive cities to live in. Technology via social media has changed the whole entire landscape of what I do and many other creatives, and people are flocking to the creative fields and  becoming make up artists faster than you can say highlight and contour!  The most celebrated make up artists or “make up marketers” as I like to call them have millions of followers, and tons of brands clamoring to get their products in these social media gurus hands.  Many women now rely on Youtube and Instagram tutorials to teach them how to be “self taught muas”, drugstore brands are now creating cosmetics that can compete with and in some cases surpass high end department store brands for a fraction of the cost making makeup way more accessible, and reality stars and celebrities have given make up artists who in the past lived behind the scenes and in the shadows the biggest spotlight the world as we know it has ever seen!  With so many people and especially black women seeing make up artistry as this new golden hustle, we have started to flock to make up like flies flock to honey.

To be a make up artist in today’s world, you just need some money to purchase a “kit”, a strong selfie game, a decent camera, and access to social media.  As a black women who may come from humble beginnings or  be an “artist” in high school that could care less about math and science classes, this make up artistry game is our basketball otherwise known as our way out.  The “golden hustle” is not why I started doing make up.  It was just a natural progression from the other art forms I practiced, and while I think the physical part of make up artistry is cool,  it is also hard and ridiculously competitive.  The retail jobs that you used to be able to depend on to make a living in the past are drying up due to Department stores not being able to compete with the internet. With so many people seeing make up artistry as this new golden hustle there is more supply than there is demand.  Enter the importance of the movie Hidden Figures.

About eight years ago  I started teaching myself about ingredients in skincare and makeup.  I became obsessed!  I would read magazines like Allure and New Beauty because they would always have amazing articles about these new technological advances in skincare and ingredients, and would explain in lay mans terms why these “breakthrough’s” were a good thing. I would visit the Library of Congress and read medical journals about certain skin issues and case studies just because. Now I hoard Beauty Inc magazines which only come out quarterly because I have to know about the new beauty innovations, gadgets, and formula’s, as well as the changes to the retail landscape because of social media, millennials, the economy, etc…While I still rely on make up application to make my living, my interests are shifting and have been shifting for a long time.  I have become extremely interested in what I know now as cosmetic chemistry, aesthetics, coding ( I feel like I could have created at least ten apps by now), and mechanical/ electrical engineering (I once took steps to create a device that would make make up artists jobs much easier but didn’t have the capital to follow through).  I am also interested in business as it pertains to the beauty industry at large, and would love to consult.  What has frustrated me for at least a year are the “what if’s”.

What if in grade school I was told that I could be great at reading, english, and math and science?  What if it were made clear to me that even though I was an artist,  there was still room for me to flourish in other areas of study?  What if my high school chemistry teacher had taken the time out to express to me how great I was at chemistry even though I didn’t know it at the time?  What if I were in high school or better yet grade school when the movie Hidden Figures came out?  I didn’t know that there was such a thing as cosmetic chemistry until I was in my late twenties.  It did not occur to me that I could go to school to become an engineer and make all the cool beauty gadgets my heart desired until I was thirty.  Sadly, I know that many of my fellow black sisters  do not equate science, technology, engineering, or math to beauty, and while Hidden Figures was about three black women who used S.T.E.M fields to send the first American to the moon and outer space, their story could have and will plant seeds in the minds of women all ages and races.  In an extremely over populated industry, I hope that many of us start to embrace the subjects I know we were never encouraged to embrace and create products, and apps, and gadgets, and companies that can compete on a global scale!  There is always more to do and learn, and for all the folks flocking to the new “golden hustle”, know that hidden behind make up artistry can be a window to something much bigger, more valuable, and more profitable i.e figures.

 

 

 

To like or not to like that is the question 

One of the reasons I write this blog is to discuss topics that nobody else wants to discuss out loud, with people other than their friends and folks they trust. The problem with staying quiet about the politics behind liking someone’s posts on social media can be life changing career wise so I’ll take one for the team and write about it. Like to hear it? Well here it gooooo!!!

I am a very honest extroverted introvert. Before I say how I feel, my face says it for me, I really only like to engage in conversations that go beneath the surface, and have to work really hard at small talk, I am a premillennial artist so I struggle with the new definition of an artist and the onslaught of all the folks who are now apart of the club, social media doesn’t quite come second nature to me all of the time, and as far as friends and aquaintences are concerned if you really piss me off or disrespect me I will dissmiss you from my life forevvvaaa!!(in my Cardi B voice) With all of that being said, I realized something extremely important recently, and that is my personality sucks as it relates to having social media success! Some folks may ask well “Why”? I’ll tell you!

I am a visual artist that uses makeup artistry as my platform. I get many requests from potential clients to view my Instagram page not only to see my work, but to see how many followers I have, and also to see how many likes I get on my photos. In 2016, my work can no longer just speak for itself! In fact, no ones work can. In order to get the all important “likes”you have to like everybody else’s stuff! There is no room for complete honesty! Hey you follow a ton of makeup artists? Cool, like their work. Don’t like the way they do brows? Skin? Shadow placement? It does not matter, like their work anyway! Have they disrespected you or said something you don’t like, but liked one of your posts and left a comment? Comment back if you can! Go back and like their stuff! Now to some folks this may sound like a lesson in “how to be phony and fake 101”, but it’s actually a lesson in office politics for the wonderful and beneficial world of social media. 

I have tons of friends, family members, mentors, acquaintances, etc… that discuss how they have to deal with people less qualified, who are rude and nasty, rascist, sexist, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but these folks deal with it and become pros at dealing with it, because they need their jobs. They also become pros with office politics because they know that it is often a rights of passage of sorts for them to get from point A to point B in their careers, and in their salaries. 

The moral to the story is the world is one big gigantic high school, and while I know some of us loathed high school it is the truth!Old school protocols do not exist to some, and their is no time for your feelings, opinions, or pettiness ( I am working on all this stuff as we speak! Lol) You have to like every bodies photos and comment on everybodies posts mainly because you NEED them to do it back! In 2016 as a doctor, lawyer, makeup artist, nail artist, painter, Hvac specialist, teacher, photographer, real estate agent, model, activist, chef, filmmaker, musician, reality star, hell even an “Indian chief”(I know that the correct term is Native American chief)it matters that you are relevant/lit/popping on social media.

Simply communicating with people in a positive manner via social media can and will affect your life for the better. It can get you followers, clients, opportunities, money, products, etc… take it from someone who has had to learn the hard way, be like Nike and just do it!! 
Sincerely,

The makeup artist formerly known as Petty Murphy!

Can You Beat a Face or Nah?Should there be a platform put in place to hold artists accountable for poor artistry?

bad-makeup-nikki

When I went to college, I chose to audition to become a dance major.  It was a decision that I made based on my talent and drive.  I thought I was a pretty good dancer, and once I was excepted into the dance program, what I thought about my talent was challenged in every single way.  I danced from sun up until sun down, I danced on the weekends, and I danced during Christmas break.  While my college buddies who had “regular” majors were chilling in their dorms or sleeping in, I was either in class or rehearsal.  My professors pushed me to the max, some to help be get better, and some to break my spirit.  Even still, I knew that I had to deliver.  My goal by senior year was to be in the highest level classes my dance department offered.  By achieving that goal meant that my artistry levels had improved so much so, that I earned the right to be in the most advanced level courses.  I endured a lot of sweat and tears, muscle soreness, lack of sleep, split toes, short fall, Christmas, and spring breaks, etc… to make it.  I also endured the constant critique of my teachers, but I knew that all of those things were what was necessary in order for me to be the best dancer that I could be.

Fast forward to my life presently.  I am a full time freelance makeup artist living in a world where social media reigns supreme, and the more Instagram followers and You Tube subscribers you have, the more clients want to work with you.  If you read my last sentence again, notice there is nothing mentioned about talent or skill.  Makeup artistry requires a certain level of skill in order for you to start practicing your artistry on other people, and charging for your work.  In the day and age where anybody can purchase a bunch of makeup from a drugstore, department store, makeup boutique, or online, create an Instagram page, and say they are open for business, there are not a whole lot of checks and balances.

Besides the “new” mua’s there are also “old school” mua’s that worked their way to the top of the celebrity makeup artist food chain by selling a ton of products for a specific brand, and using their networking skills to help solidify their place in line.  Notice I mentioned nothing about talent or skill in that sentence either.  Many artists that have been in the game for a while talk amongst themselves and critique their own work as well as the work of their peers, and the work of every one else proclaiming to be a mua via social media.  The conversations range from praise to sheer disgust.  Sometimes I have even seen images of celebrities posted by their “celebrity mua’s”, and the clients eyebrows are uneven, the color of the foundation looks wrong, the liquid eyeliner isn’t straight, the eyeshadow placement is off, etc…  The worst part about all of this is that the artists that makes these mistakes will never know because people are often too afraid to provide constructive criticism.  Unlike my days in college, there is no team of professors who have mastered the art of makeup that will grade you on every makeup application and provide you with feedback on how to improve.  So my question is, how do we start to hold ourselves and others accountable to set a general standard for all of our clients including celebrities?  It is only fair that when we start to charge people for our services that we provide the best service, so accountability is neccessary.