Building an empire takes work – in fact, most entrepreneurs will face years of trials and tribulations before making a mark. Building an empire also requires driving down foreign roads until one’s path is direct and clear. When embarking on a new journey, some understand the streets they are navigating, while some get lost. Recognizing the power of persistence and determination, MadameNoire has partnered with Nissan, to hear the stories of strong and bold beauties who are driven by their goals.
As part of our exclusive How I Made It series, powered by Nissan, we connected with leading celebrity make-up artist, Camara Aunique, who knows exactly where she wants to be in the creative space. With her warm and open spirit, and her ideology that stresses the value of sharing knowledge, we are excited to present to our loyal readers who praise black entrepreneurs, the candid conversation that we had with beauty expert, Camara Aunique.
Find out How Camara Aunique Made It…
Konnect: You are a successful make-up artist and beauty expert with a strong portfolio – when did your journey begin?
Camara Aunique: The journey started for me about 8 years ago while working for Estée Lauder. I was doing so well that I received an award for my high sales. During that time I made the decision to become a stronger artist. I left Estee Lauder and started working for MAC Cosmetics, taking a huge pay cut. Working there I met some amazing artists that taught me everything I needed to know about becoming a full-time freelance artist.
Konnect: Did you aspire to become a celebrity artist? If so, when did you realize that your services were in demand?
Camara Aunique: I didn’t aspire to only work with celebrities – really, I just wanted to be sought after and busy. However, I did start to notice that many people seeking make-up services only wanted to work with celebrity artists, so I prayed on it. I said if I’m meant to really make a career working with celebrities – then I’m ready. A little later during my journey I was booked to be Terry Crews make-up artist for ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’ I also worked with Fifth Harmony and Garcelle Beauvais.
Konnect: As an African-American woman – what sacrifices did you have to make to position yourself in the beauty business?
Camara Aunique: I talk about this question daily! As an African-American woman, it’s hard to be respected in the business. I have to go extra hard to promote myself plus I have to make sure that I’m not working with clients who would rather pay with Instagram likes. I have found that getting represented by a make-up agency is even harder because there are barely any black artists in the union. I’ve made sacrifices by having to turn down jobs that wouldn’t elevate my growth. There are times when I am not able to hang out with my friends because of a 5 am call time. However, I swear everything that I’ve sacrificed was worth it! I remember working with ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ and we shot the entire summer of 2014 in a freezing cold studio in Connecticut! I was up at 5:30 AM to catch a 7 AM train to reach work by 9:15 AM and then back on the train by 7 PM to get home by 10 PM – only to do it all over again with no days off! But the knowledge that I gained and the people that I met have helped me grow as an artist. I wouldn’t change that experience for anything.
Konnect: There are thousands of artists out there – as a business woman, what separates your skills from your peers?
Camara Aunique: Every artist is different. I often don’t compare myself to others. I rarely follow other artists, which can sometimes have you question your own skills and abilities. I love to see what my mentor Porsche Cooper is doing because she hired me years ago. I’m still learning from her. The pioneers in the makeup game are my heroes and I’ve learned how to be professional and tighten my skills by just watching them. I will say the difference I do see between some peers is the way my brand is set up. I try to inspire, celebrate others, and give expert advice. I’m no blogger, but I am an expert at this and I make sure that I go out of my way to let that be known.
Konnect: There are many resources out there for aspiring entrepreneurs, but can you note any tips that propelled you into the world of entrepreneurship?
Camara Aunique: Building relationships and keeping them is the main key to success as an entrepreneur. If I didn’t maintain relationships with those I knew when I first started in the business, I probably would still be at a make-up counter trying to figure out how to make a bigger move. I keep in touch with people. I smile at others. I’m welcoming to people in need of advice, because I didn’t have that when I started. I believe humility will take you far. Never be afraid to tell someone you’re in need of help. There are times when I still call Porsche to let her know that I’m there for her if she needs her brushes washed or anything because she’s who I aspire to be like.
Konnect: What are some of your biggest fears when it comes to being an entrepreneur?
Camara Aunique: I try not to live in fear because you are talking to a girl that takes chances.
Konnect: Where do you see you and your brand in 5 years? And what active projects are you working on?
Camara Aunique: I see myself being a respected Beauty Expert. I know my craft and I’d love to share that with others while inspiring artists. I have a few more appearances with Amazon/Style Code Live. I also have some awesome projects coming up with iHeart Radio and of course this amazing opportunity with Madamenoire and Nissan.
Konnect: What jewels do you have for women who are on the road to success?
Camara Aunique: Great question! I say ladies stick together and utilize each other. I suggest building your own clique of fab successful women. I remember being a part of an event where 10 other women and I had to speak to women who aspired to be entrepreneurs. My advice to each table of women was to take each other’s information and utilize each other to grow. Build your brands together! Don’t call me to help your brand – use the amazing aspiring artist you know and help her get the images she needs. Help the hairstylist you know perfect her skills and use the people around you to help you be great! It’s what my friends and I do. So many great things and ideas happen when you collaborate.