Women have really been focusing in on today’s rapidly emerging makeup trends. Women of all ages, teens, bloggers and influencers spend hours on sites like Youtube looking up different makeup artist who offer tips and product insight, or even just to stay abreast of who is currently slaying the game. We all love to get glammed up and show off our Black Girl Magic, but what about the many young black entrepreneurs and artists that are making a living off of the craze? How do they do it? Simple, they don’t let anyone tell them they can’t. One artist who is known for slaying the game in all avenues of the industry is Natasha J of ClutchCo. She’s been showing off her skills in the industry for well over 15 years, and her skills do not disappoint.
1. What sparked your interest in becoming a makeup artist?
Well, the story behind me falling into the beauty industry is kind of funny. In all reality my mind wasn’t set to be a makeup artist. I studied Fashion design in high school and then attended college and majored in Fashion Merchandising. I loved all things fashion, beauty, and cultural related. In my head I was definitely going to be Fashion buyer, but God had other plans for me. Growing up my mother was a makeup artist and while in college I’d work with her part time at the local mall at the “Christian Dior” cosmetic counter as a freelance artist, I just needed extra cash while I was in school full time, little did I know that was the beginning of a whole new life for me. Long story short I excelled at work, I knocked out makeovers left and right lol. What most people don’t know is that I’m really artistic and I’m great at putting colors together or simply creating things in my head. People would always call me to do their makeup on my personal time, I’d sometime cut class to just do makeup lol, I actually loved doing it. It was then I decided to drop out of college at age 18-19 and pursue a career in makeup artistry. I am now 34 years young!
2. What are some of the entertainment productions you have worked on?
I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing influential people in this industry. Some entertainment productions that I’ve had the pleasure to work with are, MTV, BET, VH1, PUMA, NYFW (New York Fashion Week), BeautyCon, as well and many other amazing photographers, models, high fashion editorial magazines and entertainers. I started out at a very young age doing makeup for numerous Hip Hop music videos for artists such as 50cent, Chris Brown, DipSet, Three 6 Mafia, and many others, I’m really proud of myself and my growth. Those experiences have shaped me into the artist and businesswoman I am today. I’m now in the process of releasing my very own vegan/cruelty free “Liquid Matte Lipstick collection”, which I’ve been working on behind the scenes for the past 5 years. I’ve learned so much, And I have so much more learning and growing to do! It’s really an exciting feeling.
3. Where are you from and was it tough to get ahead in your city, considering the growing rate of entrepreneurial makeup artist?
I was born and raised in New York. I grew up in a middle-class area in Freeport, Long Island. Many know that New York is one of the major capitals for beauty and fashion. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily tough to get ahead in my city, but it was definitely a process. I always tell people that it’s important to “Plant your seeds” because they’ll bloom regardless. The beauty of doing groundwork is knowing that one day all your hard work will eventually pay off, the question is when? Until then just keep working, connecting and building.
Many people call me a “Hustler” for numerous reasons. I don’t sit still lol and I’m always working or trying something new that will take me to the next level in my career. I don’t take “No” for an answer. If I want it, I’m going to get it, simple! I’m really social and have no issues talking to anyone or networking, it’s literally apart of my everyday lifestyle. I pass out my business cards to everyone that I come in contact with, if you stay true to who you are and what you love you’ll succeed. People gravitate towards “what’s real” and what’s authentic. People want to be able to relate to whatever it is that you have going on. Just keep faith, don’t give up and avoid all distractions that will steer you away from doing what really makes you happy.
In my city we don’t take that “Fake stuff” lightly. New Yorkers grind, we hustle, they don’t call it the concrete jungle for nothing. It took me about 10 years of groundwork to start really seeing the “fruits of my labor”. I never compared myself to other artists I’ve always looked at them as inspiration. I always rooted my fellow MUA’s on, I always connected and collaborated with other like-minded individuals who shared the same dreams as me. I always was very clear on what I wanted and wanted to do with my life. Remember what’s for you is for you, nobody can take that from you. There could be 1,000,000 people doing the same thing as you and it shouldn’t matter. Be confident in what you do, Keep God first, remain humble and keep an open mind. Nobody can ever steal your spirit! And that’s what sets me apart from the rest.
4. If you weren’t a makeup artist, what would be your career of choice?
If I weren’t a makeup artist I’d totally work in the fashion or music industry. I’ll probably be a wardrobe stylist, creative director, music A&R, or a fashion buyer. If you know me, you know music is literally my therapy and so is doing makeup and helping others. Since I was a little girl, I grew up listening to artists such Prince, Patti Labelle, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, etc. These aren’t just regular artists these are Icons! Artists who set the bar high when it came to their craft. I watched my parents take pride in their appearance, they were considered “The Cool parents” lol and they stayed on trend. My mother was a diva and it rubbed off on me. Not to mention it’s in my genetics. Beauty, Fashion, and music are all related, so I’m still in the loop!
5. What are some the toughest challenges about being a makeup artist in the industry today?
Some of the toughest challenges I faced as makeup artist was finding my lane. Finding out what works best for me and also for my clients. There were times I wanted to give up, but that’s all a part of the process. What also sets you apart from others is the fact that you don’t give up! I remained focused and believed in myself. You get what you put out. Stay aligned and the universe will always have your back!
6. With so many makeup artists coming up, how do you make yourself (brand) stand out?
I listen to my clients; I’m always utilizing my resources. Fashion magazines, social media and everyday life inspire me. I take what I see and what I learn and apply it to areas of my life that I see fit! I am my brand, and if people believe in me they’ll believe in what I have to offer.
7. How do you wish to further expand your business?
I want to continue to set the bar high. I want to continue to offer quality service and product. To further expand my business, I have to always set my intentions. When you do so the possibilities are endless.
8. What is the best advice you can give any emerging makeup artist wanting to be seen in the industry?
The best advice I can give emerging makeup artists is to keep going! Don’t ever give up. Be confident in what you do and how you deliver. If you want to know something, do your research. Educate yourself and master your craft. Keep god first, use your haters as motivation. If you fall down just get right back up. And remember you aren’t your circumstances.
Thank you, Natasha. Your words are so encouraging, and your story is inspiring. It is definitely not easy, but you made it work; you overcame the obstacles and showed us exactly what you are working with. Check out Natasha’s work on IG @Clutch_co and you can even book her for your next big event at www.ClutchedbyNatashaJ.com