Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm going to NYFW! How did this happen?

I made an announcement last night via facebook, twitter, and instagram that I will be assisting two amazing, celebrity makeup artists next week at Mercedes Benz - New York Fashion Week. I instantly started getting inbox and text messages asking me, "HOW?"

Well, I'll tell you how!
I have to go all the way back to the beginning of my career to explain step by step how this happened.
This is a REAL Throwback Thursday.


This all started with this drawing I sketched in 2004.
I was attending Harold Washington College between 2002-2005. I drew a model I saw in Elle Magazine using my chalk pastels, my fingers, and an ink pen. Since I was 3 years old, I have always drawn models I saw in magazines, random faces, eyes, makeup, lips; I literally had no idea I was making face charts and preparing myself for my future.

I was a BROKE college student and I needed money to support myself. I stepped up to Macy*s , The Body Shop , and other retail places to interview for a sales associate position.

I had no resume, no experience, nothing: All I had was my ability to draw.

The management looked at me like I was crazy for only showing them my drawings, but they had faith that I could do makeup on customers, so The Body Shop hired me on the spot in August 2004.

Step 1: Discover your passion
This was when I first discovered my passion for makeup.

This was where I met a lot of amazing people like:
Vivienne, Jonilyn, RomneyLizi, Yesenia, JasmineBrittany, Ryan, Jordan, Justyn, Crystal, Anna, Shawn, Katie, EdithDanielleVera, Joaquin, Cleo, and last but NOT least my boss for 5 years, Ioana.

Each and every one of these people allowed me to experiment on their faces, or taught me something new, or we partied together, had fun together, laughed together, cried together. They all helped mold me into the woman I am today. I don't talk to every single person every day, but I think about all of them all the time. They don't realize how much of an impact they each had on me for my life.

To each and every one of my Body Shop crew: I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU

I wanted to learn about makeup as much as possible, so I signed up for school at Makeup First LLC in 2007.


Step 2: Educate Yourself
It was here I learned from artists Jill Glaser and Lani Swasko about amazing makeup artists like Eve Pearl, James Vincent, Maurice Stein, Kevin James Bennett, and amazing products like Make Up For Ever and Cinema Secrets. It was here where I learned how to do theatrical makeup, makeup for film and media, clinical makeup, basic hair styling, airbrush makeup and agencies within the Midwest. School is not for every artist, but it helped me get more focused on what I should and shouldn't do for my career.
To Jill Glaser and Makeup First LLC: I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU

Once I graduated with my Makeup Artistry certificate, it led me to create my first website and sign up for Facebook in 2007.

Step 3: Network

Through facebook, my little world of makeup grew into a major passion. I started networking with hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and any one related to fashion. This is where I met the young fashion photographer around 2008 from Tanzania, Africa: Nuru Kimondo.

Nuru is an extremely gifted young woman! I met her when she was just starting out, she was 16 at the time. We started doing photo shoots together on a weekly basis, we would hang out together all the time, traveled to New York together, we became really close friends.

On one of our last photo shoots together, I met hair stylist Dee Desalu.

Dee is absolutely amazing and she wowed me with her hair skills. Dee is super sweet, talented and amazing at hair styling. Dee is a true hair artist!

We always kept in touch and sent each other work from time to time. Dee always kept me up to date on fashion, events, networking, how to make a perfect curl and things I never knew about with hair!



I met makeup artist Nicole Rogers via facebook.
Nicole was the first makeup artist I ever assisted on set, I reached out to her casting call for assistance and she brought me on board for a film set. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn't. Nicole put me in check REAL quick and told me what to do and what not to do with assisting another artist. If it weren't for her, I would have easily been a hot mess in my career.



Step 4: Maintain Industry Relationships

One day, out the blue, Dee tagged me and a few other mua's to a post on facebook about a makeup artist looking for assistants for The Makeup Show.
It was celebrity makeup artist: AJ Crimson.

I honestly did not think AJ would reach back out to me, or answer my email, or even bother to read my message but in less than five minutes, AJ called me and asked, "Are you available?"

So myself, DeCarr, George, and Sarah were able to assist AJ for the launch of his makeup line.


Step 5: Find A Mentor

In June 2012, I was working with photographer Escalante on a weekly basis. I reached out to him and a lot of makeup artists and photographers within the industry just asking for help in 2010. The only person that reached back out to me was Escalante.

Escalante has been a fashion photographer for the past 25 years, so he knows all the ins and outs of the fashion industry from the United States to Europe. Escalante helped me sharpen my skills, fine tune my lines, quicken my pace with makeup, connected me to my first agency: The Rock Agency, and really helped me become an all around better makeup artist. He pushed me to my limits and encouraged me to do hair styling which I never thought in a million years I would ever do. He also encouraged me to travel and market myself outside of Chicago. Because of him, I dropped a lot of fears and doubts I had within myself and worked harder than ever before. I made my first trip to Los Angeles to visit my family, but little did I know I would also be signing with an amazing artists agency from a referral through AJ Crimson:


Step 6: Take Risks

When I first signed with Black Board, they told me I needed better models, better photographers, better everything in order to get better jobs; that's when Jennifer Avello and I started working together more often. I started working with Jennifer in 2010.

 Jennifer and I took risks together, experimented, completely changed our portfolios, we worked to exhaustion to try to make our books more to our liking. We were getting so frustrated with people telling us to tone down our work, and telling us, "Your work is not commercial enough." Or, "It's not edgy enough" or , "It's not good enough."

After a while, we said, "Fuck the agencies!" and we allowed our creative juices to flow when we worked together. We did whatever we wanted to do and our skills grew stronger together.
Jennifer Avello is absolutely amazing.
It wasn't until we did this photo shoot for Tantalum Magazine together, with stylist Marta of Factor Artists, that Black Board Group was finally excited about my work.
This was when I got the message on August 27th, 2013 simply asking,

"Are you available September 4th for fashion week?"

To Jennifer Avello: I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU


Today was when I realized everything and every person in life is for a season and a reason:
- My drawing skills led me to employment at The Body Shop >
- which led me to  > school
- which led me to  > social media
- which led me to  > amazing and talented people that I networked with
- which led me to  > referrals
- which led me to  > fashion week

This was NOT an over night process.
Your journey will be completely different than mine, but just remember:
Who you meet today could be the key to your dreams coming true tomorrow.


It makes me sad that I'm not able to talk to all these people every day, but I understand now more than ever that they were all in my life for seasons and reasons that I can only explain is God's doing. I have been working, and planning, and editing, and deleting, and second guessing, and going broke, and messing up my career from the beginning, but it was ALL to prepare me for next week, and for the rest of my career.

So right now, if you are going through a crazy time period in your life, or if things are not panning out the way you hoped, or things are not as good as you think they could be, just remember:

It's only for a SEASON!


  1. Truly inspiring Andrea! As always, I'm so proud of you! I love that you stopped caring about what others wanted and starting doing what you enjoy, crafting and perfecting your personal style. I know you will be amazing at fashion week. Remember to continue to give God the praise. Let the world know that he's been with you and is still with you.

  2. You forgot to mention the most important step in how you made this happen. YOU. YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN. You never gave up, you never let fear hold you back, you never broke under pressure. You pushed through. I am so proud and excited for you. You inspire and impress me every single time we work together. I love you and thank you! <3

  3. This is so awesome Andrea! lol yes I remember talking with you. It was only because you are such a talent and super sweet that I could talk so candid with you. I wanted you to be the BEST you could be! I can't wait to hear about your fashion week experience! I can see you building a career in New York although Chicago would be sad to lose you!

  4. I loved reading all of this! It gives me hope for my future! :) Congrats and good luck! Have fun!

  5. Andrea!!!! I’m so happy for you. That post was beautiful and you are so inspirational. I’m excited to see all the wonderful things you will do in the future!

  6. So inspiring! This gives me hope that one day I'll get it right as a makeup artist! Keep being as humble as you already are and inspiration to us upcoming artists who are trying to figure this thing out! Congrats to you! :o)

  7. Very inspirational post.... the fact that you keep God first and through your artistry and your amazing spirit is what has elevated you this far... continued success to you my friend, you inspire us all.. keep it up babe! See you in nyc baby!

  8. The realest blog post full of humility I've read in a while. Good post Andrea C. Samuels! May God continue to bless you ;-)