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Hair salons have been shuttered for months. Ditto for nail salons and retail beauty stores. While in many regions of the country these establishments are just starting to open their doors again, one thing’s for certain: there’s no going back to business as usual. That means makeup artists, hairstylists, nail techs and others in the beauty industry may not have full-time work to go back to, even after months of surviving without a paycheck. It’s something that’s been gnawing at celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas and beauty publicist Melody O’Flaherty. So they created Support Creatives, a new nonprofit for and by artists in the beauty industry set up to offer financial aid, mentorship programs, and continuing education to beauty creatives, in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond.
One of its first orders of business? Beauty Together, a mammoth fundraiser to benefit artists financially hit by COVID-19. The virtual event runs June 16-26 2020 and taps top-of-the-industry talent (like Danessa Myricks, Bobbi Brown, and César DeLeön Ramîrez) to share their skills with the rest of us, including insight on how to forge a beauty career in a pandemic-affected world and tips from Beyoncé’s longtime makeup artist, Sir John, on how to apply foundation that won’t wear off on your protective mask.
Starting today,dozens of sessions will be available live and on-demand starting at $10 a pop (though it pays to register early: sponsoring brands are donating highly-covetable swag, like $300 Beachwaver Kits, given to the first 20 people who sign up for one of Sarah Potempa’s sessions and donate $100 to the nonprofit). Ahead of the marathon event, we talked to nine featured artists for details on what to expect from their Beauty Together class and why now is the crucial time for industry players to band together in support of beauty professionals financially devastated by the global health crisis.
Michael Dueñas, hairstylist and co-founder of Support Creatives
Why He Started Support Creatives: “Artists of all kinds need help. The salon industry has salon artists covered, but not much exists for freelance artists. We want to bridge that gap,” Dueñas says. “Support Creatives has become our way to give back to a community that is in dire need of help even without the recent events that have happened.”
The Impact of COVID-19 on Stylists: “I have spoken to a few artists who are actually moving out of California because they can’t pay their rent or other bills. Most of us have not received a paycheck since March and to my surprise, many still are not eligible for unemployment even with the CARES ACT enacted,” Dueñas says. “I know of at least 20 people who will not be going back to makeup or hair because they can’t afford to build back up. If I know that many, how many others are there?”
Why Artist Solidarity Matters: “I think the industry is going to change massively. I feel it’s going to become very competitive for jobs since no one has worked for a while and people are going to be open to taking any rate, which will drive down rates in general and hurt everyone in the long run,” Dueñas says. “I do think artists need to stick together and be firm on our rates to keep our industry going strong and people wanting to work.”
Sir John, celebrity makeup artist (clients include Beyonce, Joan Smalls, and Karlie Kloss)
What to Expect: A masterclass in applying wear-though-anything foundation and playing up the eyes from the artist who creates makeup looks that don’t budge through hours-long stadium shows. But that’s just the start.
“I’m not just in the business of makeup,” Sir John says. “I’m in the business of making people feel good.” To that end, the artist plans to also talk about forging a deeper connection with ourselves. “I’m excited to talk about this with people who are uncomfortable talking about race, depression, or anxiety. Now’s the best time to have the conversation that people wouldn’t usually have because that’s where the internal growth happens. I think now’s a really good time to start doing a temperature check about that and ask: ‘Before I go back out into the world and hear all this noise again, what am I really trying to say to myself?’ So we’re going to have a conversation and I’m going to sprinkle it with some fun stuff, some stories about Coachella and crazy stuff that happened backstage.”
Why Community in Beauty Matters: “I’m a huge advocate for Support Creatives because what it’s doing is a game-changer and so needed. In this time when everyone feels so singular and possibly marginalized because of the revolution in this moment that we’re having in society, it’s great to have a community and it’s great for artists to rally around other artists and weave a bit of activism or charity work and philanthropic efforts in our artistry,” he says. “It’s the most modern direction forward.”
Bobbi Brown, makeup artist and founder, Evolution_18
What to Expect: A lively Q&A that covers everything from freelance makeup artistry to launching a wellness brand to forging an entrepreneurial life.
Why She Champions Freelance Artists: “I am a makeup artist at heart, and always will be. I was born one, and I understand that other artists are my people,” Brown says. “I can only imagine how difficult it is for people to not be able to do what they love, and how they support themselves. I’m here for them.”
César DeLeön Ramîrez, hairstylist (clients include Kylie Jenner, Ciara, Demi Lovato)
What to Expect: Expert wig application (including the adhesive he can’t work without) and savvy business tips for how to make it as a freelance hairstylist in Hollywood.
Finding Creative Solutions in Tough Times: “Sometimes tragedies wake us up and make us stronger. I think that this experience has made us look inward and think outside the box to stay creative,” says DeLeön Ramîrez. “I personally feel excited and inspired again, whereas before this pandemic, I was feeling burnt out and uninspired. I think we have also realized that we can accomplish so much with a lot less than we thought. Things can not go back, we are always moving forward.”
Danessa Myricks, makeup artist and founder, Danessa Myricks Beauty
What to Expect: A showcase of trending makeup looks from around the world, featuring makeup artists from Brazil, Australia, Greece, Romania, and Mexico
COVID-19’s Personal Toll: “I personally suffered not just financially, but physically from contracting the virus,” Myricks says. “There are no words to explain how I was emotionally affected by the combination of those two things happening at once. Watching both my hard work and dreams and my health slip away in a way that is completely out of my control was a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I feel so blessed to be here, on the other side of it, and to have the ability to support other creatives to make it through as well.”
The Importance of Support Creatives: “Myself and so many artists have been stripped of their ability to earn an income, their identity as creative entrepreneurs and providers and their joy and passion in an instant. So many artists all over the world did not benefit from unemployment or stimulus checks and were left to survive off limited savings. For many of us, we had to rely on our community of artist friends to share resources. Whether it was in the form of food, PPE supplies, financial donations, or even just emotional support, we had to lean into our relationships to make it through.”
The Power of Artists Supporting Artists: “I know how the support of my artist community helped get me through one of the roughest periods of my career. I want to pay it forward and make sure that as many other creatives as possible have the opportunity to feel and experience that as well.”
Sarah Potempa, hairstylist and inventor of the Beachwaver
What to Expect: Expert advice on how to build a brand, work with celebrities and create unique content, along with tips on recreating red carpet looks (like snake braids) or a 5-strand braid mantra at home.
Post-Pandemic Industry Changes: “This time has brought out so much change. In order to adapt, we need to be more digitally savvy and connect in ways we might not be used to, from creating unique content to making our social media shoppable to collaborating,” Potempa says. “It was really fun to do Instagram Lives with other artists, as well as watch so many live digital shows. I believe there will be a bright, more aware and more understanding future ahead of us and I am so hopeful for education, enlightenment, and positive change.”
Sam Villa, hairstylist and Redken global artistic director
What to Expect: Time-saving hairstyling hacks, like preventing flyaways with a shine spray and powder brush from your makeup drawer.
Why Support Creatives is Essential: “In my 44 years as a hairdresser, I’ve never felt a greater need to support our industry,” Villa says. “So many of my salon owner friends have been hurt by the COVID-19 shutdowns. They desperately need support. Unfortunately, many did not get the financial support needed to survive and reopen, so now is the time for all of us to do what we can to assist the most at-risk group of salon and beauty professionals.”
Melanie Inglessis, makeup artist (clients include Ana de Armas, Olivia Wilde, and Amber Heard)
What to Expect: How to create a day-to-night smokey eye with minimal tools.
The Challenges of Freelance Artistry: “I have been a freelance makeup artist for over 20 years and I have struggled for a good amount of years, so I know how terrifying it can be when work is not there,” Inglessis says. “A lot of artists live check-to-check and when the jobs stop, the checks stop. I also know from experience that we don’t always set ourselves up properly for dry periods and have many times nearly quit my passion because of not being able to pay my rent. So it’s important to me to be able to support and help my community going through this crisis so artists can continue being artists.”
Katie Jane Hughes, celebrity and editorial makeup artist (clients include Ashley Graham)
What to Expect: An in-depth tutorial on how to nail Hughes’ signature graphic winged liner, no matter your eye shape.
Beauty As a Catalyst For Social Change: “It’s so important to support the artists that have been greatly impacted by this pandemic and we all have to do our part,” Hughes says. But she also notes there’s a larger need for allyship and change that extends beyond the effects of the pandemic. “We need to take action and my participation is one small way that I’m putting my words into action. I’m so grateful that this program allows people to both support artists but also that a portion of the proceeds for my session is being donated to Black Lives Matter.”
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