As someone who loves all things beauty and makeup, it is important for me to follow women who are proud of their ethnicity and carry purpose into their work. If you frequent Instagram and Youtube you may have come across Vanessa Gyimah’s page. You can expect to see vibrant hues, glass-like skin, and insane outfit inspiration.
Vanessa’s first encounter was at the MAC counter when she was 18, and searching for makeup for prom. Her African parents, like many, did not approve of her wearing makeup, so her first time being able to wear any was for prom. “My mom let me buy three pieces of makeup, and I used it until it was all gone,” she says with a laugh. After getting to play with the makeup, Vanessa fell in love and sought out to get a job at a department store in Ohio.
She continued to get more comfortable with her craft and began doing other people’s makeup. After a while, she started getting requests to do friend’s and families’ makeup. While being on social media platforms she liked the idea of creating videos of herself creating new looks. Though she was nervous at first, she began consistently taking pictures and videos of herself. Her fiancé would help edit the videos and took pictures to keep up with all the content she was being asked to create.
With consistency, time, and dedication she’s been able to build her platform and get amazing opportunities. Vanessa recalls her first brand trip with Laura Mercier.
“It was amazing, the hotel was all decked out. I had been wanting to go on a brand trip and when my platform got to a certain level, the opportunity came. It wasn’t very diverse, and there weren’t a lot of other black women at the time there. It’s hard for black women to get noticed, so it was nice being able to experience it and represent while being there.”
Makeup for client, Tamar Braxton
When asked who her favorite influencers are, she thought about it and decided on one of the internet's faves. “Patricia Bright, she’s so well rounded. She’s fun with beauty, but also educates me. She has a business channel and shares her knowledge so she can be transparent to all. I look up to Patricia as an amazing African woman of color.”
It’s important to see other women building one another up and supporting each other, not only in the influencer community, but internationally.
The internet makes it very easy to compare lives and platforms. Vanessa agreed that this is something she sees often, and shared what helps her to navigate it: “Oftentimes on social media it's easy to see the millions and the mansions and forget that it doesn’t come overnight. There’s sometimes ten years plus of hard work that goes into it that people don’t see. My advice to people would be to have faith, be patient and believe in yourself. I know it sounds cliche, but believe in yourself or no one will. Having African parents, they did not support me wanting to do makeup. Because they didn’t see that many people making a career out of it at the time because it was so new.”
It’s often easy to get detoured from your vision and plan via external forces. This is why it’s so important to believe in yourself so you can follow your own path. It can be difficult to pursue a career that others don’t recognize as successful, but it’s important to stay dedicated and chase your dream.
Vanessa using Juvia's Place Stick Foundation in shade Katsina
Vanessa’s career has more greatness to come, so far she notes her career highlight as being in Ulta stores representing Juvia’s Place shade for their Stick Foundation. “I really like Juvia’s place and continue to support because the brand is African and so am I. I love Anastasia Beverly Hills, Beauty Bakerie (a great black owned company), Huda Beauty, Lip Bar, Mented Cosmetics, and Fenty Beauty of course.” As soon as Fenty Beauty was mentioned, we began to talk about celebrities she would like to meet or do their makeup. “Someone I would love to meet would be Rihanna. I would love to talk to her about business, she does a lot to make sure her brand is inclusive.”
As we wrapped up, I asked about how COVID-19 has affected being an influencer and makeup artist. Vanessa mentioned she is noticing that a lot of companies are holding off on product launches and shipping PR packages. We also briefly spoke about familiar brands like House of CB, and the impact that the pandemic is having on releasing new clothes because their warehouses are closed. No matter what space you’re in, it’s clear that COVID is having an effect on us all, indirectly or not.
If you want to follow someone whose content will bring a smile to your face and leave you feeling inspired, visit Vanessa’s platform to support her artistry.