As anyone who’s ever experimented with makeup knows, mastering the art of color, brushes, and technique isn’t just a job for just anybody. Atlanta-based celebrity makeup artist, beauty expert, and entrepreneur Mia “Mimi J” Johnson
has worked on popular shows like VH1’s Love and Hip Hip Atlanta,
Style Network’s Big Rich Atlanta,
and has a celebrity clientele that includes Kenya Moore, Erica Dixon, Joseline Hernandez, and Toya Wright.
Mimi J dishes on what it’s like being a working beauty professional, growing her business and shares her adviceon the importance of building a personal brand that’s useful for any aspiring artist.
Madame Noire (MN): How did you get started in the beauty industry?
Mimi Johnson (MJ): I moved to Atlanta in 2000 and went to Clark Atlanta University. I originally studied fashion, due to my love of art, but later switched to marketing.
I always knew that I wanted to have my own business and it had to be something in the art world. One day, I said makeup could be fun so I called three of my friends and did their makeup. It started from there. I made my own business cards and started networking with photographers and makeup artists.
I’ve been a makeup artist since 2008, [doing] things on the weekend. Then I started taking days off to pursue projects. I was “emancipated” and left the security of my corporate job as a human resources specialist at Accenture in 2011 and have been a full-time makeup artist since then. Making the switch involved proper planning, knowing my budget, and having realistic short- and long-term goals.
MN: How did you build the Mimi J brand?
MJ: That’s where my understanding of branding came in handy from my degree in marketing. Social media has been my number one tool besides from word-of-mouth referrals. I used to advertise on other platforms such as Google, but now with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter having evolved so much, I don’t need to do the supplemental things as much.
Yet, you still need to have more traditional marketing such as a website, logo, and business card. You can become a popular person on Instagram. That might get you noticed. Yet, if you have a meeting with someone professional, like an agency, they will want to see your website. A lot of artists don’t understand that part. I don’t think the novelty of having a website will go away.
MN: You started “Beat and Snatched,” an online social experience led my celebrity makeup artists, hair stylist, designers, clients, and fashion stylists. What does “Beat & Snatched” mean and how did you get the idea for the movement?
MJ: “Beat and Snatched”
is one of those beauty world slang terms that means your makeup and hair is really nice. I wanted to create a new community for other makeup artists who are doing great work that might not necessarily get the type of shine they deserve. The goal of the movement is to bring camaraderie within the beauty and fashion industry. We do reposts of great work on our Instagram
. We also have a YouTube channel
with several different contributing artists. Initially, I made t-shirt with the hashtag #beat to promote the channel, but then people started wanting to buy them. I now have makeup artists who are buying the shirts and wearing them while they are working. This year, we have a Beat and Snatched multi-city makeup class & beauty panel tour in partnership with fellow makeup artist and friend Jeremy Dell
MN: As someone who works across different industries (editorial, TV, film, bridal), what’s the biggest misconception about being a makeup artist?
MJ: Some people don’t see the full value of what a makeup artist does or our worth. People will pay for their hair and clothes, but when it comes to makeup, people will try to nickel and dime all day long. They want you to use great products, spend up to 30 minutes to 1 hour on their face, and
come to them. That’s a lot of money. I think a lot of makeup artists end up playing themselves short and working for free because they want the opportunity.