Shawna Elizabeth Miller was born and raised in New York. She is the youngest of three girls, with her beautiful mother, Marjorie Blake. She attended Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature. She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Shawna wears many hats; she is a child of God, wife to her college sweetheart Kevin Miller Sr. and a mother to Leila, Kyla and Kevin Jr. She is also the CEO of Shawna Elizabeth Enterprise, S.E.E. SEE is the umbrella company to shawnaelizabeth.com, lovethylipstick.com, The Shawna Elizabeth Skin & Make-up Studio and the newest addition, My Lipstick Story, a lipstick and lip glaze line. SEE is a company that eats, sleeps and breathes makeup art!
To add to her many hats, Shawna is a Licensed Esthetician, a Make-up Artist and Cosmetic Educator and Trainer. She held positions in Management & Training for M.A.C Cosmetics, Yves Saint Laurent Cosmetics and Lancôme Cosmetics. She has been the Key Make-up Artist for several commercials and print campaigns, runway shows, plays and Fashion Week(s). Shawna was awarded Make-up Artist of the Year in 2013 for the state of GA, by the Raw Organization, which is the largest independent arts organisation in the world. Shawna spends her days, sometimes nights, in her Make-up Studio in White Plains, NY. A place she calls her haven, where faces are her canvases, where she makes women look and feel beautiful. That’s her ah-ha moment. Shawna also has created a full curriculum of Make-up Artistry Classes, where all women are encouraged to learn basic make-up techniques.
While Shawna wears many hats, she also considers herself a Daughter of Poseidon, because she loves with the beach.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Shawna. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
My ah-ha moment is when a client sits in my chair and is love with her new enhancement. Is usually starts with her looking in the mirror, smiling (real goofy authentic smile), playing with her hair and becoming this confident person right before my eyes. This I call a "Hello Darling" moment. My goal is to give every client this experience; it's a win/win moment and its confirmation that I have done my job well.
Shawna, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Make-up Artist?
I am trying to take it a day at a time, but I see publishing book(S (with a capital “S”) in my future. I also see my brand partnering with several non-profit organisations to make a difference in our communities. Can I image my pinnacle? I couldn’t have dreamt up or imagined this very moment in my life, so I am learning to slow down and appreciate every small step on my path right now, but I am super excited about what God has for me next and in whatever order he wants me to receive it. I started out in my bathroom mirror at 11 years old. I would steal a couple of make-up products off of my older sister’s dresser (she would keep them in a basket on her dresser), lock my bathroom door and my many make-up adventures would begin. I always knew I loved makeup, but I never thought it was an option as a career choice. I went from having a corporate job as an Account Executive to working as a Make-up Artist, for MAC Cosmetics in Macy's, part-time. This experience was priceless. My face was not my only canvas anymore. I met different clients with totally different needs and wanted, and this became my classroom. This is where I learned, made mistakes and refined my skills as an artist. Soon I felt like I needed to learn all of the brands in the Cosmetics Department, so I began to freelance for several brands at the same time. Then I began to freelance for myself, marketing myself as a freelance Make-up Artist. I established, Shawna Elizabeth Enterprise, SEE, an umbrella company for www.shawnaelizabeth.com, www.lovethylipstick.com, The Shawna Elizabeth Skin & Make-up Studio & My Lipstick Story ( a lipstick and lip glaze line). I became so knowledgeable about several brands and trends that I became an expert to my clients on what brands, products, and colors would be best for them. I think the mixture of both freelancing for yourself and the cosmetics brands is the best combination. You control your schedule, and you meet people that eventually become your clients
Who is your inspiration in life Shawna? How do you keep inspired?
My inspiration is my family; we call ourselves "The Powerful 5" and GOD is the centre and core of our family. We have created this small, intimate unit of warriors; prayer warriors, inspiration warriors and perseverance warriors. We have committed that we have to be great, no excuses. It's a little bit of pressure, but we leave wiggle room for the growing pains and learning curves that life presents. It's ok to make mistakes, but it's not ok to stay defeated from our mistakes. I am also inspired by stories or anything that plants a seed for a great story. As a Make-up Artist, a client’s needs wants and desires, are their story. I am honoured that they have chosen me to share this story with, and I become their storyteller. That pressure and high at the same time is my muse.
We all make mistakes Shawna; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Make-up Artist; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I have made so many mistakes as a Make-up Artist. I had had situations when I gave a client a look they asked for, and they did not like the outcome. These became teaching/training moments as a Make-up Artist. I remember working at the MAC counter wearing a dramatic smokey eye and meeting a client that seldom wears make-up. I remember in her consultation her telling me that she rarely wears make-up, but she was in love with my very dramatic smokey eye, and she wanted that look. Instead of me explaining to her that this is a dramatic look for someone that rarely wears make-up, I jumped right in and gave her exactly what she wanted. This was a huge mistake; she hated it. I am never comfortable with a client leaving my chair so upset that she doesn’t even want me to touch her anymore. I bent backwards to adjust my techniques, reinterpreted (because we have to read between the lines) and confirm her story and make sure I have the confidence to turn this negative situation around. Fortunately, I have experienced customers that weren’t pleased initially, but I earned the opportunity or second chance to try again, and some of them have been loyal clients for years.
Shawna, when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Make-up Artist, how do you go about prioritising your clients’ needs?
As a business owner, I have the power to schedule each client and the appropriate time frame allowed for their appointment. This is key, because the truth is, that every single client should be a VIP client. They should feel like when they arrive, it ' all about them. When you work for a cosmetic brand, at a cosmetic counter, this is challenging. The key is to constantly be communicating with clients (especially the ones waiting). Letting clients know how long it will take for them to get your undivided attention, or if they need to schedule an appointment so you can create that VIP experience for them.
Please tell us, Shawna, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Make-up Artist?
I remember a time when I worked for MAC cosmetics, I had a make-up appointment, and my co-worker called out sick. I was only 2 of us scheduled at the counter, and I was in trouble. I had my VIP client in front of me, and I had to service the needs of the counter still. I remember offering my client something to drink (water) and explaining to her that my co-worker was sick and I was alone at the counter. I told her that I was going to complete her makeup application still but if a customer approached I might need to step away. I promised her I would keep it brief and return shortly to complete her makeup. Every time a customer approached I reassured her I would be right back and gained her buy-in, so that most of the time she just told it to be ok, just help them.
Shawna, please give us an example of a time when you were able to persuade someone to see things your way at work successfully.
This happens very often as a Make-up Artist. This is an example whereas a Make-up Artist I constantly have to read between the lines. I had a bride that came in for a make-up consultation with about 5-10 pictures of makeup looks she wanted for her wedding day. The first I did is acknowledge what she was showing me but then I put I the pictures to the side and start talking. I asked questions about her wedding that were unrelated to her makeup (to her they were unrelated, but to me they are relevant). I started to see her get excited about getting married, and then I start learning about this beautiful bride. I listened closely and looked closely at the details of her face. Then I started addressing her normal make-up routine vs her "desired" look. I give all my brides the same advice. "You should look like an enhanced version of yourself; this is not the day to experiment with a new look. You don't want to look at your wedding pictures 10years down the line and think what was I thinking with my make-up". I also addressed the pictures that she brought in finding out what she liked about them. I told her I got it, meaning-I got a custom look just for you. The truth is, her look didn't exist in any of the pictures she showed me. I did her bridal trial, and she loved it! I explained why the other looks would not be perfect for "her" wedding day. She was sold, and I was booked.
Shawna, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Make-up Artist. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
My proudest moment as a Make-up Artist was when I opened up my Make-up Studio, in my hometown NY. I remember thinking to myself; this is it! Prayer was answered I can do this. Even though in my heart this has always been a dream of mine it finally came true. Although this was my proudest moment, it was also my scariest moment. I felt the pressures of keeping this dream and this business alive. Today this dream and business are still up and running, two years and counting!
Shawna, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
I am currently in the process of publishing a Make-up Artistry book, and during this process, I can be creative. Being a Make-up Artist, you have to be selfless, it's not about you, but it is about your ability to listen, interpret ( read between the lines) and transform. While putting my book together, I have done many makeup techniques that a customer probably would never ask for ( facial studding, lace on the face, etc.) This whole experience is amazing; I am constantly learning, dreaming and experiencing true joy.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Make-up Artist?*
If they would like to explore Make-up Artistry as a career option, they need to study and experiment with as many different cosmetic brands as you can, in drugstores, department stores, online, etc. I would start out with what the category that interests you the most is it eyes? Or are you a lip girl? Or do you love it all? I love palettes of colour, because they give you a range of colors to experiment with and they are most cost-effective. Apply makeup to everyone that will allow you to touch them, even if its free. In the long run, it's not free you are getting education/ hands-on experience that you didn't have to pay for. Take a picture to track your progress and always be willing to learn.This is a great starting point.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I am and will always be available and willing to collaborate. I love runway, editorial and beauty make-up artistry and would love to collaborate in any of those categories. This again offers me an opportunity to learn and push my limits as a Make-up Artist
Now for the best part Shawna! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
Photographer: Monica Marrow (Photo-B & F only), Photographer: Charlton Inije (ALL Other Pictures) All & ANY PHOTO SUBMITTED BELOW CAN BE USED AS COVER