It's a Men's Thing - Celebrity Hair and Makeup Artist Cataanda J. Interview

Welcome to the first Image Maker post of 2010! I've had the pleasure to speak to our next Image Maker often enough that she seems more like an old friend than talent I interviewed for the blog. When I tell you this young lady is on it, she's on it! Expect MAJOR things from her in 2010. Get to know Cataanda J.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Cataanda J: Wow, well I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years! (giggles) You ask how that’s possible and I’m not even 35 yet? Ok so, I’ve been doing this since I was old enough to hold a comb and brush…I was probably 3! Hey, experience is experience!!! I actually attended beauty school my 10th grade year in high-school as part of a vocational program where I went to regular school for half a day, and then was bussed from the school campus and taken to Kalamazoo Beauty Academy for the other half a day. Sooooo, there you go. You can conclude that I am well seasoned! (smile)

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a makeup artist?

Cataanda J: My mom was a cosmetologist and when I was like 7 or 8 she would take me to school with her and that’s where my talent began to flourish! I never really wanted to “be” a makeup artist, I just “was” naturally… I always said I wanted to be a supermodel! (laughing) But not only did I love everything about hair; makeup; and getting all dressed up; I had an unbelievable talent for doing it all! For years makeup and the artistry was just something I loved doing and did very well. At the start of my career, I focused more on hair and just collaborated the makeup aspect with the hair whenever asked! It wasn’t until I moved from Michigan to the DC area in 2002 that I decided to actually pursuit makeup as a side gig to keep me until I built my clientele in the hair salon. I thought, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it BIG! So I decided to apply at the M.A.C. counter in Nordstrom, got hired, and the rest is history! (smile)

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! How did you decide to specialize in Men's Grooming?

Cataanda J: I didn’t sit down one day and say…..”Hey, I’m going to specialize in Men’s Grooming”! (laughing) It’s something that I kind of just fell into. Working for M.A.C. you obviously work with all races, ages, and sexes, so……(laughing) That’s another story! When I decided to quit M.A.C. to strictly freelance and start my own business I got more gigs on set, photo shoots, music videos, runway shows, etc. I realized then that there is a huge market for men in this industry and most people don’t think about men and their beauty, oops I mean, “grooming” needs! (laughing)

It wasn’t until the whole “metro sexual” craze came about, thanks to Diddy, well he was Puffy at that time that men felt comfortable receiving and now actually talking about their experiences with such services like the mani/pedi, facials, eyebrow waxing, etc.! (giggles) The biggest eye opener for me and when I realized the high demand for men’s grooming was when working as a consultant on different events for L’Oreal Paris. Most of the men attending the events are almost dragged in, literally, by their wife or girlfriend, but being that L’Oreal has a men’s skincare line, Men’s Expert, these men discover that they do have some curiosity and issues to address. So that is when I am flooded by their questions because in that environment, they are totally comfortable talking about it because they know that is what we are there for!

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! Did your specialization require any special or specific training?

Cataanda J: I’d say yes and no! The first place I worked was a Barber Shop! I was actually a stylist there but being the only female working in a barber shop it gets quite interesting! (laughing) I’d watch the owner and study his technique. It wasn’t long before some of his clients started to challenge me to cutting their hair because I’d always say “oh, I can do that”! So one day I accepted the challenge and the results were fantastic!

I already had experience using the clippers and trimmers seeing as how short cuts with a shaved nape/neckline was in back then. Plus my mom use to have me fade up the hair in the back and cut all kinds of designs in… (laughing) Then we would color the lines in with eyeshadow ….It was hot! (giggles) My other training came from when I worked at Supercuts! OMG, I got so much experience cutting there its crazy! The name says it all, Supercuts, and its just that! I gained various clipper cut techniques, mastered eyebrow and beard trims. (ear hair trim as well, eeew) I also got over my fear of using the straight razor.

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! How different is it working with men than women?

Cataanda J: Well working with men is usually much more of an adventure! (smile) They usually flirt with you and some even try to hit on you! That can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable. Besides having to fight them off, working with men is a lot less work! (giggles) Unless the dude is rocking a lot of hair where intricate styling is necessary or if he has extremely bad skin, a days work with the guys is simple and sweet!

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and makeup artists specifically?

Cataanda J: What I would say are the biggest misconceptions about 1)The Industry- is that it’s “glamorous”! This is a deep, dark industry and if you’re not careful, it will totally consume you! It’s so easy to get caught up in….. LOL That’s a whole other topic! (SMH) 2)Makeup Artists- is that when you tell most people (especially that aren’t in the industry) they think it’s not a “real” job! For example, if you say “OMGosh, I’m so tired from working all day”…it never fails! Some disrespectful jerk will say, “oh whatever, all you do is “play” in makeup all day, how can you be tired?”….and I’m like dude, “you think you know, but you have NO idea!!! How about following me around so you can truly learn what a day in a life of a makeup artist is really like and trust me, you will have much more respect for what I do”!!!!

BEAUTY SCHOOLED! What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?

Cataanda J: For new makeup artists and hairstylists who are trying to break in the industry, I say learn all you can when you can! This is an ever changing industry and we’re all creative beings so not only does your work speak for you but your personality speaks volume meaning, you have to remain humble! Never get to the point where you think you know it all and you’ve gotten so BIG that you forget from whence you came!!! On the flip side of that, this industry is very competitive and critical.

Know that you can do whatever you want and there is no limit to where you can go….You will get so many “NO’s” before you get a “yes” and it can sometimes be very disappointing! When you’ve reached the status as “Celebrity Makeup Artist” and/or “Celebrity Hairstylist”, please remember that is JUST a title! What you do is not who you are! I spoke about it earlier….it’s easy to get caught up! Never get to the point where you idolize anyone! Celebrities are celebrated people! That does not mean they are better than you so never lose who you are to fit in with someone or be swayed by the crowd! Be yourself, walk with dignity and do what you do!!!……You will be highly respected and much more appreciated!!!

Thank you Cataanda, for that wonderfully inspiring interview! For more information on Cataanda be sure to check out her website.

And... Cataanda's interview has you considering a career in Men's Grooming be sure to check out my older post on Diana Schmidtke and her book Shortcuts.

Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!

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