Working It: Natural Beauty Artist Jessa Blades Relies on List-Making Apps, Herbal “Stress Remedy”

Blair Pfander

Jessa Blades

Brooklyn-based natural makeup artist and herbalist Jessa Blades has built a career out of teaching women to “detox” their beauty routines of harmful chemicals and toxins.

Of course, being a self-made career gal comes with its share of stress: When she isn’t giving one-on-one tutorials in her Fort Greene studio, Blades is running between shoots, teaching wellness seminars, and managing her e-commerce shop, Blades Natural Beauty.  Here, the busy beauty guru  sounds off on staying sane (and chic) with a hectic work schedule.

StyleCaster: When did you first become interested in natural beauty?
Jessa Blades: I’ve been trying to think of the moment. For lack of a better word, it has been an “organic” experience. I was raised eating healthy organic foods, I had a hippie mother, and I always liked fashion and makeup and art. And the more I learned about the beauty world and my personal health, the more it inspired me to study herbalism and plants and the natural products I could incorporate into my career and my makeup kit. It has been a slow crystallization of ideas. It feels like getting back in touch with my roots. I try to help people from the inside out.

What kind of training did you receive prior to launching your company?
I studied studio art at Skidmore college, and then went to makeup school in Canada, and have worked at makeup counters and assisted at Fashion Week shows with different top makeup artists. And as far as herbalism, I studied with an herbalist named Rosemary Gladstar, who’s based up in Vermont, and Peeka Trinkle here in New York, and people from all around the country to learn about plants and healing. But I think the interesting thing is that before I even went to beauty school, I read every book that was out there front to back. I had already taught myself so much when I got to makeup school, I don’t think I learned much new information, I just learned how to apply it. And I learned about presentation and being professional, but I had taught myself a lot just by reading, which was pretty cool.

How do you stay on top of a crazy schedule while running your own business?
I would say lists. I’m obsessed with lists. My new favorite, which is changing my life, is Wunderlists, which syncs with all your devices as well as other people, so I can make a list and add my assistant to it, and once she does a task and crosses it off, I can see that she’s done it. And it’s free, and great. I tend to work seven days a week, morning into evening, so juggling my schedule is about staying flexible and trying my best to protect what little time off I might have, even if it’s Tuesday from 2 to 7. Giving myself that time, and trying to be gentle with myself and not work non-stop is important. It’s hard, though, because I work a lot on the go, and run an online store as well as a consulting service. Having an assistant who is amazing and can anticipate my needs is so lucky, and has taken a long time to find, but I feel very blessed.

Any other organization tips?
Google docs is my other tip. It’s sad to get rid of paper, but it’s too messy, and a lot of times I work virtually with my assistant.

Describe your typical morning routine.
I wake up and try my best not to look at my phone immediately and check my email, but I inevitably do. Then I will make myself one of my favorite things, which is coffee mixed with chaga. It’s a really amazing medicinal mushroom, and I love coffee and I’m not ready to give it up, so I’ll enjoy coffee with some chaga brewed in it, which has some nice health benefits. Simultaneously, I’l make one of my famous smoothies, which I make from pretty much anything I can find—anything from dates to bananas to oats to chia seeds to kale and kefir. Anything healthy I have in the freezer or fridge. I have an immersion blender, which has changed my life. So I’ll make a quick little smoothie and when it’s nice out, I like to go sit in my yard and kind of wake up by raking leaves. In the winter, I have great light in my kitchen, so it’s nice and sunny inside, and I’ll sit at my computer and answer my emails. I’ll also try to do a little yoga—even like, one sun salutation—probably before coffee.

What’s your go-to outfit when you have ten minutes to get out the door?
All-black, always. My favorite Roper boots, kind of like old-school rancher boots, black Acne jeans, and a simple black silk top. My latest exciting purchase is my bag, which I got at Marlow & Sons. It’s my little baby. It’s made from the hide of the meat that they serve in the restaurant—just a beautiful, black leather bag, and there are no wasted products, which I really like.

What handbag essentials couldn’t you leave the house without?
I always have eyeliner, some “stress remedy“—which is made by a friend of mine, Hope Gillerman, who is a body worker and an aromatherapist, and she makes essential oil remedies formulated for issues we all deal with on a daily basis … or hopefully, we don’t.  I pretty much wear her stress remedy as my perfume, too. It’s a nice blend of lavender and it calms me down.

If you had to identify the ‘secret to your success,’ what might it be?
I figured out what I love to do by combining all of my favorite interests and activities, and then worked my butt off to make it a living. I think my secret is just doing what I’m really passionate about. It took awhile to figure out what that was, but once I did, I pushed myself really hard to make a successful career out of it.