From Office Worker to Makeup Artist: An Interview with Aina Lee

aina lee headshot
aina lee headshotToday I'm so pleased to present an interview with my good friend Aina Lee, a faaaabulous makeup artist in New York City. Even though she has an impressive resume filled with celebrities, tv shows, and high-profile events, beauty is actually her second career. Keep reading to find out how an unfortunate turn of events led her to leave the corporate world to follow her bliss.

When did you first fall in love with makeup? I first fell in love with makeup as a child. It all started by watching my mom do her makeup every day. I thought she was the most glamorous woman alive, like Diahann Carroll. I'd marvel at the way she softened her Maybelline eyeliner with fire from a match and then rim her eyes. I was always in trouble for playing in my mom's makeup. When, I got old enough, I started buying my own. To this day one of my favorite things to do is a drugstore crawl all over the city and see what makeup products are out there.

Did you ever think you would ever pursue makeup artistry as a career? I wanted to be a lot of different things as a kid; a lawyer, a teacher, a politician, and actress or singer. Makeup Artist was not on that list!

How did you eventually take the leap of faith to become just a casual lover of makeup to a professional makeup artist? I was working for an education company and kept hearing about a co-worker who did wigs and makeup on the side. When I met him, I asked him if he ever needed help with wigs and makeup and that I'd love to help out. I wasn't interested in money. I had a full time job so I wasn't thinking in terms of career. My first show with him was with the Gay Men's Chorus. I had no idea what I was doing, but he was a great teacher. We were styling wigs and doing zombie makeup for a "Thriller" number and doing all this 80's makeup. It was so much fun. I was hooked from that day! I helped out with more shows. Setting wigs for Off-Broadway shows also helping design makeup looks for tech week. The more I did, the more I loved it. A few years later I was laid off from my full-time job as part of the economy crash in 2008. I decided at that moment to give makeup artistry a go and I've never looked back.

What were some of the most surprising things about your new career? The most challenging? The most rewarding? One of the most surprising things for me is that a large part of my work is doing internal videos and head shots for corporations. I think most people assume that makeup artists are doing high fashion shoots with avant garde makeup. The work is inspiring but the clean, no makeup look a Gap ad requires will keep you clothed, fed and sheltered for many, many months. Most people don't see my work on a big screen, but the money is still green!

One of the most challenging things is learning that you will not have an infinite amount of time to work your magic on a clients' face. Time is money. I currently freelance for a local sports network. It is live television and sometimes you only have 5 minutes to work on someone. Doing high quality work is important. Doing high quality work fast is more important.

aina at workThe most rewarding things are the little things; the compliments. When a client looks at themselves and they love what they see. Recently, a client said to me, "I usually feel like I have to adjust my makeup in the bathroom when an artist finishes my face. This time, I don't have to."

Recently, you took another leap of faith and began working for yourself. How has that transition been? There have been good days and not so great days, but I've never regretted my decision to freelance full-time.

What are some of the most interesting jobs you've taken as a makeup artist? One of my most memorable moments was working as Makeup and Hair department head for the feature film "All Wifed Out". I love how the crew becomes your family because for those days, you will see them more than your family. It was my first feature and I'll always cherish the experience.

What advice would you give to women who are intimidated by makeup but who want to add it into their daily regimen? Try products that are multi-taskers. Powder or cream-to-powder foundations are a one-step solution to a flawless face. A cream eye shadow in a soft shimmery shade like champagne or bronze you can sweep on with your fingers and blend. Cream blush can also be used on the lips. A theatrical, stage-ready makeup is not necessary!

Is there anything else that you'd like to share? Being a Makeup artist is so much more than lipstick, blush and mascara. It is a business, and we are businesswomen and men. Makeup artistry has risen from being viewed as a vocation (i.e., something you do when you can't get into college) to being viewed with the respect it deserves.

Be sure to stop by to check out my girl's work!

5 Reasons You Can’t Miss the Curvy Lingerie Shopping Soiree!

Well, after months of hard work and planning, the Curvy Lingerie Shopping Soiree is finally here!!! I couldn't be more excited! After years of hosting intimate (i.e., small) events featuring a single retailer - my girl, Precious Williams of Curvy Girlz Lingerie - I've taken the plunge to expand to a larger event featuring multiple plus-size retailers as well as a relationship panel to help you take your sexy to the next level!

Still not sure if you want to come out for all the fun? Well, here are FIVE reasons why you can't miss this year's Curvy Lingerie Shopping Soiree!

buy lingerie online copy1. You get to touch, feel, and hold the product before you decide to buy! One of the major complaints for most plus-size shoppers is the inability to shop in person at major retailers. Unlike our slimmer sisters who have the opportunity to try on clothes and get a sense of fit, texture, color, etc., very often we are relegated to online offerings only. This is especially true for intimate apparel. However, with retailers like and Le Bustiere Boutique on hand, you will have the chance to touch, feel, and see products before plunking down your hard-earned money. (Oh and did I mention that Hips and Curves will be offering a special discount exclusively at the event?)

2. Get your girls right. Bra fit and celebrity stylist Karima Renee will offer a full-length presentation about how to achieve your best look through the proper foundation garments. You can book an appointment with her right at the event! I don't know about you, but if she's good enough to work with Jazmine Sullivan, Chrisette Michele, Lane Bryant, and Vh1, she's good enough for me!

3. Real talk about relationships. I don't know about you, but one thing I cannot stand is one-sided relationship advice. Every time I go to a panel or forum on dating and relating, it's either a group of women spouting off what they think men want or a group of men berating the ladies for what they're not doing. Oh and let's not forget the folks who have been married for forever and a day who have NO idea what it's like here out in these streets today. Nope. Can't do it. And I won't do it. That's why my Curvy Relationship Panel is featuring a cross-section of experts - singles, married, men, and women - to give a diverse perspective on real issues when it comes to dating, mating, and relating for plus-size ladies. Oh, and did I mention that each of the panelists is offering a special gift for all attendees?
3. Gift bags, door prizes, and dessert! Everybody loves gifts, right? All guests will receive a gift bag featuring loads of goodies, including coupons from a few retailers who weren't able to participate in the event in person. Also, every guest will have the opportunity to win door prizes like some Curvy Girlz Lingerie, a bridal gift bag from Pretty Pear Bride magazine or Secret VII - a sexy board game for you and your boo! There will also be a complimentary dessert bar with lots of yummy sweets!

Who doesn't love lingerie? I don't know about you, but there's nothing like slipping into a silky nightgown at the end of a stressful day. And no, I don't have a significant other at the moment. But it's nice to just wrap myself up in that little piece of luxury. And, I cannot tell you how much wearing the *right* bra has enhanced my entire wardrobe. (Seriously, I look like I've lost 10 pounds due to the lift my bras gives me.) My clothes fit better and I feel more confident because I know that I've got the right garments on underneath. These are just a few of the reasons I love lingerie. Come share the love by coming out to the shopping soiree this Saturday!!!

Tickets are available at the door for $20; however, why don't you save $5 by purchasing your tickets in advance at See you there!

Monday Morning Memo – The Other Part of Success

"Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success." - Arianna Huffington


Do you ever find yourself struggling, feeling like you will never achieve your goals? Even though it is very difficult - and even annoying at times - I try to use these opportunities as fuel to my fire. To remind myself that this is what I'll talk about someday when I'm being interviewed about my "overnight success." Heh.

So, if you're having a hard time right now, remind yourself that this is just part of the journey.

Curvy CEO Asks…What Are YOUR Weight Goals?

plus size fashion model target skinny ban
plus size fashion model target skinny ban

What are your weight goals?

Are you actively attempting to lose weight?

Are you working just to maintain your current weight?

Are you just living your life and not thinking about weight at all?

Right now, I would fall into the second category, with a bit of leaning towards the first. Although I would love to say I'm trying to lose a bunch of weight, right now my head is just not in the game. And that is the result of a sense that long-term, massive weight loss is not really realistic for me. I hate to think of torturing myself to lose weight only to gain it all back - and then some - shortly thereafter. So, for now, I'm focusing on maintaining (i.e., not gaining) weight. As I slowly add more activity and healthier (not healthy, per se, but healthier) eating into my life, I focus moreso on longevity and maintaining a decent quality of life. (In recent months, I've seen friends and loved ones struggle with the debilitating impacts of no physical activity and poor eating. That, if nothing else, is a good motivator for adding in some health and wellness activities into my own life.)

That got me to wondering - what are your weight goals? And why?

#WorkwearWednesday – Cold-Weather Outfit Ideas for Work

BRRR! Because it's #WorkwearWednesday and still freezing outside, here are a few cold-weather outfit ideas for work....


(For details and shopping info, click here.)


(For details and shopping info, click here.)

Want more tips and outfit ideas about cold-weather office looks? Check out my must-have cold weather corporate items as well as this set of outfit ideas!

What are YOU wearing to work on these bitterly cold days? Share in the comments section, Facebook, or Twitter!