Several people go to college not knowing the career path they want to take. This was the case for Leana Washington, a 19 year old independent makeup artist from New Jersey. She started school at Gloucester County College (now Rowan College at Gloucester County) in 2015 and left the same year.
She always had a passion for makeup. After college she started Grace Glam Beauty. Grace Glam Beauty is a website where people can book an appointment with Leana to get their hair and/or makeup done. Leana’s work can be seen on Grace Glam Beauty’s Facebook and Instagram. I’ve scrolled through her pictures on social media and her work is beautiful.
She currently goes to Jolie Health and Beauty, a cosmetology school in Cherry Hill, and she graduates on March 21st. At school she has learned how to do makeup, style hair, highlight and color hair, nails, and other services.
Recently she was hired as an assistant at Salon Bridgette in Swedesboro, New Jersey. She can’t style anyone just yet until she gets her license, but she does small things for now.
Of all the makeup items that exist in the world, the two she can’t live without are her brow pencils and her Bobbi Brown stick foundation. Right now her favorite brow pencils are the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow wiz and Benefit’s goof proof brow pencil (she couldn’t choose one over the other).
It was a pleasure talking to Leana. I hope her story inspires others to pursue their passion.
How would you describe your makeup style?
It’s either dramatic or very classic everyday simple. I like to go in both extremes. I wear my expressions on my face with color, sharp winged eyeliner, red lipstick, and heavy blush. I wear my emotions on my face is the best way to describe my style. One of my favorite looks I created was during a time when I was a little bit depressed, so I wore some darker purples with a dark lip stain and a cat eye with dramatic lashes. I guess the stronger the mood the more dramatic I am with makeup. The more fun and flirty I feel the more casual it is. It’s fun to play with makeup and express yourself. For me it’s therapy.
What got you into makeup?
In general I really love makeup. I learn as much as I can when it comes to beauty and cosmetology, but I didn’t expect it to grow into what it is now. It was all very sudden when I started. For me I am pretty religious. It was like God was opening a door and wanted me to take a leap of faith. It was like he was saying trust me and just jump and I’ll help you fly, and that is what it felt like. Ever since then I’ve been flying, and it feels fantastic. I just got a job at a salon, and I never thought I could work at one.
Who inspires you the most?
When it comes to beauty, the top three people who inspire me would be Jaclyn Hill, Jackie Aina, and Mali Thomas. Their work is so inspiring. Jaclyn Hill and Jackie Aina are YouTubers who both have great personalities. Mali Thomas goes by Mali Magic on Instagram, and she is just so talented. She makes someone’s face look like a better version of themselves without completely changing their look and brings out their inner beauty. There’s just so much creativity in this field that goes unrated or underappreciated.
Where do you see yourself and Grace Glam Beauty in the future?
I see myself being fully booked and having a consistent flow of clients who come to me for hair and makeup or even nails. I want to work on people of all different ages, races, religion. I want to make as many people as I can feel beautiful.
I want to make as many people as I can feel beautiful.
My big plan would be to work specifically with weddings, big events, and celebrities. It would be myself and a team of others. I would also have a salon in New Jersey that wouldn’t just be a full service salon. It would be a spa partnered with a dermatologist. I want to have specialized services that you otherwise have to travel to cities like New York City, Las Angeles, Chicago, or Atlanta. I want to provide it here in New Jersey. I would have somebody running it for me, and I would be traveling and booked with celebrities or brides who need that extra attention.
Do you have any beauty tips or tricks you would like to share?
Invest in skincare and make sure you are drinking water. Keep your skin healthy first if you want a good makeup application. If you want to feel good about yourself and have an easier time with makeup, make sure you are keeping your skin clean, healthy, and hydrated.
Has there been a time where you have been frustrated with the industry?
I have always been consistently frustrated at people who look down on others for their look. If I feel beautiful in green eyeshadow and blue lipstick everyday then that’s what I’m going to wear. I’m going to be happy, and I’m going to be comfortable. Nobody has the right to tell me that I should feel ugly or less beautiful.
If I feel beautiful in green eyeshadow and blue lipstick everyday then that’s what I’m going to wear.
Another thing that frustrates me is that a lot of people of color aren’t recognized enough by brands when it comes to shade ranges and when it comes to advertisements. It’s not fair. In general people say they want more diversity but then they throw in a light skinned black woman in there and that brings the issue of colorism. Men in beauty has also become a huge thing. And not everybody may like it or agree with it, but let people live their lives and be happy.
What would you say to a young black woman who is trying to get into the beauty industry?
I would tell them that they are beautiful. If they have a dream or idea, they have to go for it. Don’t procrastinate. Ask questions. Everything that you do is all up to you. You have to try as much as you possibly can. You have to learn as much as you possibly can. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t or you’re not beautiful. Eliminate the word no from your vocabulary.