As I reflect on 2017, I am so thankful for the simple things in life: family, health, love, kindness, and compassion. I am also especially thankful to all of our clients (and potential & future clients), industry friends, and those who just want Lena Clark Beauty to “win.”
I have had the honor to train with and learn from some of the most ah-mazing artists in the industry, including, Alexandra Butler, Danessa Myricks, Nicky Posley, Theresa Francine, Alaina Saulsberry (Color du Jour), and Renny Vasquez, all of whom taught me to be a better artist. After trying to set up a lesson with the uber talented Mali Thomas for well over a year, I was able to not only FINALLY add Mali to the list of artists I’ve trained with, but I have also been blessed to have her mentor and help guide me through my career this past year.
I spent a full day with Mali and her fabulous model Keisha creating an amazing look! My signature makeup is what I refer to as a “red carpet ready, natural glam” style of makeup that my brides and private clients absolutely love. However, during my one on one lesson with Mali, she taught me how to take my natural glam to a higher more impactful level. She even took the time to review my work BEFORE our lesson to identify our focus areas. Our model, Keisha is a fairly new face in the game and I’m excited to watch her star rise. She has a beautiful spirit and such a gorgeous face. I can’t wait until she is “discovered” so that I can tell my “I knew her before/when” story.
As you can see from my test sessions with my gorgeous new model/muse, Raven, King Mali Magic taught me how to create magic. Meeting Mali changed the trajectory of my career and the vision I have for myself and my artistry. Her guidance and support has been invaluable. Oh, and if you have noticed the changes I’ve been making to the Lena Clark Beauty Instagram feed this year, that is also thanks to Mali and her tips. While my artistry and brand overall have improved since meeting Mali, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from her is to ALWAYS approach this industry from a place of abundance, not scarcity, because THAT is where the magic happens.
Did you catch the season 3 premier of VH1’s Black Ink Crew Chicago?! If you did, chances are you caught some of my makeup work during the confessionals on the beautiful Jen (Van’s girlfriend) and Liliana of 9Mag. Woo hoo! Mali reached out to me with the opportunity to assist the talented Chicago makeup artist Troye Antonio for the show. I can’t express how happy I was that she trusted in me and my artistry enough to book me. I was even given the opportunity to create a look on my first day on set. Challenge accepted! Troye and hairstylist Dee Desalu and all the ladies and gentlemen (cast and crew) of Black Ink Crew Chicago were so kind and patient with me during my first experience on set for a major network.
While preparing for my wedding and following the advice I give to all of my Stunning Brides, one of my Estheticians at the time, Rachel Odem of Rachel O Beauty, asked me if I had considered getting licensed after hearing how detailed my skin care regimen was…at least I think that’s why she asked. As a Makeup Artist of course I had CONSIDERED getting licensed.
I’ve wanted to work in the beauty industry literally my whole life, but was not allowed to pursue it while growing up. I gave Rachel all the excuses I had been repeating to myself for years: I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the money, I was too busy, it might be too hard, and the list goes on. After Rachel gently encouraged me to look into things I made the decision to pursue becoming a licensed Esthetician to add more value to the services I provide for my clients.
It wasn’t easy because I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the money, I was busy with my family life AND managing a successful makeup business (thank you God!), and the program was hard…never mind the fact that I had ZERO social life. BUT, I went for it and graduated with honors from Dudley Beauty College.
I will continue to focus on beauty & bridal makeup for women of color. I will also add services to specialize in treating adolescent and adult acne & hyperpigmentation and provide intimate body waxing for everyday Beauties and future Stunning Brides (& Stunning Mommies).
OMG, I did makeup for Gabrielle Union!!! Thanks again to my Teacher, Mentor, Motivator, Encourager, and so much more, Mali Thomas, I was given the pleasure of working with my first celebrity client – Mrs. Gabrielle Union-Wade. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m so happy that Mali believed in ME, my artistry, and my professionalism enough to book me for her VIP client. Mrs. Union-Wade is not only gorgeous in person, she is also super sweet. She was so incredibly kind and so gracious toward little ol’ me, even as I fumbled around in my kit dropping things.
I am extremely proud of myself for accepting such a huge opportunity because it helped me realized I have grown as a person. This is the type of thing I would have allowed my limiting beliefs to ruin for me. This is the type of thing I would have come up with an excuse not to do and instead watched from the sidelines as someone else went for it. But, this time I didn’t! This time I did the thing. I won’t lie and say I overcame the fear because I didn’t. I honestly just pushed through it. I was still very afraid of having my work displayed and judged in such a public way on such a well known person, but I felt the fear and did the thing anyway.
I posted about the experience on social media and literally poured my heart out about all of the insecurities I felt going into, and after, working with my first celebrity client. I received so many warm and heartfelt messages from artists who identified with MY words. What I learned from sharing this experience is that I am NOT alone with my feelings, thoughts, and insecurities as I navigate through my journey as a makeup artist. There were so many artists out there that understood and gained strength from what I shared.
One of the last projects of the year was working with Shannell Fowler, owner of Haute & Co Bridal Boutique – a luxury bridal boutique in Lincoln Park – Chicago. One of the things that personally annoyed me while shopping for my wedding gown was stores not having dresses in my size available for me to try on. *blank stare* Haute & Co Bridal offers styling and classic, fashion forward wedding gowns for curvy and plus size brides sizes 14 to 32!
Shannell booked me to be her makeup artist for a photo shoot and the last day of filming for a new series on @peopleTV called “The Perfect Fit.” “The Perfect Fit” is a body-positive bridal series premiering on January 9th, 2018. Brides make sure you check out the show and visit Haute & Co Bridal Boutique to get your perfect fit!
And last, but not least, it is worth mentioning that I spent 2017 continuing to build Lena Clark Beauty into a successful team of makeup artists. I am so proud to say that Lena Clark Beauty has grown into a multi-award winning, published wedding vendor. We help women look AND feel their BEST on their special day! We recently won TheKnot Best of Weddings award for the second year in a row. Yaaaay! Thank you to all of our past Stunning Brides for not only giving us the honor of working so closely with you on your wedding day, but for also taking time out of your busy new lives to leave honest reviews of your Lena Clark Beauty Bridal Experience.
BTW, it’s engagement season so I have to point out that we’re currently booking 2018 (and 2019) brides in Chicago and beyond. If you are a 2018 bride (or know one) in need of a wedding day makeup artist, click here to book your wedding day services.
My personal life was also “lit” with joy, love, and support from my family and friends. I got to meet and spend time with my new baby niece Morayo. She smells like heaven (most of the time at least) and is sweet as an angel. I took my son for his first teen facial that he absolutely loved (of course). Like seriously, the kid slept and snored through the whole thing. He THOUGHT he was going to go for monthly facials like me. Sorry kid, your mom is your Esthi! And I also learned to make chili that actually tastes like chili. SCORE! In 2018 I will focus on my spaghetti tasting like spaghetti.
I have so many plans and projects we are working on that I can’t wait to share with you all. If 2017 was the year everything was “lit,” 2018 will be the year of the full on blaze! I pray this for me and you! Amen!
Love, light, & happiness!