Celebrity makeup artist Tatiana Ward, who has done makeup for stars like Nicki Minaj and Keyshia Cole, didn't plan on turning her side hustle into a successful career.
Ward's first passion was music, and she spent her early life pursuing her dream of becoming a recording artist. As an aspiring singer-songwriter, she auditioned for the FOX show "American Idol" in 2005, when she was 23. "Prior to that, I had already had a record deal, I spent my life doing theater," says Ward.
But by age 24, she was "pretty burnt out" and remembers thinking, "If this doesn't work out, I gotta figure something else out."
Pivoting to a career as a makeup artist felt natural: "I was always fascinated with makeup and the ability to transform oneself," says Ward. "I remember working as a bartender and constantly getting compliments [on my makeup]. So that's when I started thinking if I could make my hobby into a career."
Two years later, she got her big break. Her makeup tutorials got the attention of singer-songwriter Brandy Norwood. "My fans flooded her pages with comments saying, 'BeatFaceHoney wants to do your makeup!' [and] she allowed me to do her makeup and then I toured with her for some time."
Here are Ward's three tips for turning your passion into your career:
When she was starting out as a makeup artist working in nightclubs, Ward says she spent thousands of dollars on products for her kit. But Ward quickly realized talent mattered more than her tools: "I learned very quickly that I could achieve the same results that I was seeing in magazines, by using drugstore products and using whatever I had."
It wasn't fancy beauty products that would lead to her success, she realized. Persistence, dedication, and focusing on improving her skills helped her excel in her field.
"As much as we like to buy new shiny products," she says, "if you really want to get the look as a professional or an everyday makeup enthusiast, it is more about perfecting the technique than what products you are using."
Ward followed her passion, but she also had to be practical in order to avoid going into debt. That's why Ward paid attention to how other makeup artists saved: "I noticed these artists were using drugstore this and drugstore that." She learned to focus on honing her skills and saved by avoiding pricey products.
One way Ward cut back for years is by purchasing false lashes in bulk from beauty supply stores. "To get that glam look, stack two pairs on top of each other," she says. "Instead of going to Sephora and spending $20, you've spent $8 on a bulk amount of lashes!"
Though she's known for working with celebrities, Ward says that her work is not, and has not been, with all high-paying clientele. "I say this all the time when I teach my live classes: I have been a $20 makeup artist and I have been a $10,000 makeup artist and I've been everything in between."
As an entrepreneur, nothing gets done if she doesn't put in the effort, she says: "There's no one else that's creating the work for you. You have to go get the money. So you are relying 100% on yourself."
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