Between beauty magazines, fashion shows and celebrity styling, it’s no wonder that a career as a makeup artist has become such a sought after profession. BeautySchools.com was lucky enough to talk with Jessica Harbin, a Kansas City makeup artist at Chanel and owner of I-Do Special Events, about her journey to where she is today. An industry veteran who has worked in almost every aspect of the beauty industry for the past 12 years, Jessica is one of Kansas City’s most in-demand wedding stylists, and has turned her passion into a thriving profession.
When did you decide you were interested in the beauty industry?
I decided after graduating from high school, and a year of community college under my belt, that I wanted to pursue a career in makeup and hair for weddings. While in high school, I always was the go-to girl for up-dos and makeup application. Every dance, my friends would come over to get their hair done, and I knew then that it was something that I wanted to do.
What were the most important factors you considered when looking at cosmetology schools?
When looking at cosmetology schools, there were three things I knew I wanted.
- It needed to be close to home.
- It needed to be a cosmetology school with a name and brand that I knew and was familiar with.
- It was a must that it offer financial aid to its cosmetology students.
During cosmetology school, your program included makeup, nails, and esthetics in addition to hair. Did you favor one of these cosmetology specialties over the others?
When in school, I always was most interested in makeup and skincare. Although we didn’t do as much concentration of makeup application, as I would have liked, knowing how the skin worked was extremely interesting. At the time I went to school, they didn’t offer an esthetics program, so the cosmetology program offered me the next best option.
What was your favorite learning experience and toughest part during your cosmetology training?
My favorite part of the learning experience during cosmetology school, was actually learning all of the science that goes into it. I loved learning the chemistry behind mixing hair color and perm solution and really making sense of what you learn in grade school. It finally clicked…so it made it MUCH more interesting for me. I also loved learning the anatomy of skin and why certain skin conditions occur. The toughest part was cornrows. Yes, cornrows. I know that sounds strange, but every week as a daily assignment, you had to do a head of cornrows. I was terrible at them and they would often take me all day to complete!
How did cosmetology school best prepare you for a career in the beauty industry?
Cosmetology school really gave me the opportunity to work with so many people from every walk of life. Instead of just dealing with someone with my skin and hair type, I was able to work on clients and classmates, thus giving me experience with anything that may be thrown my way!
What continued education in cosmetology or training have you completed and why do you think it’s important?
Being in the cosmetic industry, there are several continued opportunity classes available for you to attend to further your knowledge. These cosmetology classes are offered by almost all of the top brands and will teach you several techniques and secrets about products that you are then able to share with your clients. There are also national organizations, such as the Professional Beauty Association, that host opportunities for you to further your professional development.
Favorite thing about working in the beauty industry?
My favorite thing about working in the beauty industry would be meeting new people. I have worked many weddings, promos, events, and photo-shoots and have met so many wonderful new friends. I love being the one they count on to make the most important event glamorous! It also allows me to be creative, and get my creative fix! Here is just one example of my work.
What is one tip you would give people considering enrolling in cosmetology school or a specialty program such as makeup, esthetics, or nails?
My advice would be to pick a school that offers exactly what you were looking for. Like I said, at the time I decided to go to beauty school, there weren’t any schools around that offered an esthetics program. Even though that’s what I wanted to do, cosmetology school was my only real option. Although I am glad that I have that knowledge in my back pocket, it’s not really what I was looking to do. So be choosy and pick a school that’s truly geared to your career goals.
Ready to begin your journey in the cosmetology industry? Take the first step today and start looking for beauty schools!