Today we catch up with Aminata Bash-Taqi, a Sierra Leonean Doctoral Candidate in Psychology who her turned her passion for makeup into a small business based in the DMV. We find out how she got started and what its like to make a name in the very competitive makeup artist industry. In the next 5 years Ami says she wants to open a makeup studio in Sierra Leone. This is a SwitSalone Brand Business Feature of AB Makeup Artistry.
How did you get to where you are now?
Hello, my name is Aminata Bash-Taqi, owner and founder of AB Makeup Artistry. My background is not in business; I am a doctoral candidate in a Doctorate of Psychology (Neuropsychology) program. I established AB Makeup Artistry in March 2014 when I realized that I could make a profit from both my passion for makeup and my God-given talent as an artist. I have always been interested and excelled in the arts and creative works for as long as I can remember, but never did I imagine myself building up a business. I plan on opening an actual studio location in the near future. For now, I run my business from home and travel to my clients’ location.
How much was you start up capital? How did you get it?
There was no set start up capital. Through my own personal finances and the donations from friends and relatives, I simply started building my makeup kit by purchasing different makeup products, brushes/tools, lighting, camera, etc. As of date, my kit is worth over $3000.
Tell us about your business, what is you core product or service, who are your customers and what is it that makes what you do unique.
I believe that makeup goes beyond beauty. My mission at AB Makeup Artistry is to enhance the natural beauty of each and every one of my clients and to ensure the highest rates of satisfaction with my services. I provide makeup services for weddings/bridal, special occasions such as birthdays, senior portraits, editorial makeup/collaborative photo shoots.
I provide makeup consultations/lessons for those who want to enhance their skills for personal and/or business purposes, etc.
My clients are based primarily in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. I occasionally do bookings with clients who are out of state. Based on the feedback I receive from my clients, I believe that it is my personable and genuine approach to each and every client that makes my services unique. I listen to the specifics of their beauty concerns, ask what sorts of makeup looks/trends they prefer and I provide just that and more!
Please tell us about a typical day of work for you.
When going on to an appointment, for example if it is for a bridal/wedding party, I’m up by 7am, I would’ve packed a specific kit the night before just for that appointment, get myself ready and do my own makeup (to present my work on myself of course), then I head out to meet the client(s).
Once I arrive at the client(s), I set up all the needed products, lighting, camera, etc. Completing a full face of makeup on one client usually takes 30-45 minutes and could take up to 1 hour depending on the rush/speed. Once I’ve completed all applications, I pack up my kit, thank the client(s) once more for choosing AB Makeup services, and I head back home or to the next client(s) I may have for the day.
When you first started; what was you vision then, how did you get word out, what were the initial reactions to what you were doing, were there ever moments when you thought about quitting?
When I first started, I completely underestimated how challenging it will be to build my clientele. My vision was to create a business that would leave a lasting impression in the lives of women I come across. I wanted my services to go beyond the superficiality of beauty and enhance every woman’s innermost beauty. I started first my creating an Instagram account separate from my personal account. I created posts introducing AB Makeup Artistry to friends, relatives, followers on social media, etc. I received positive reactions from almost everyone. There have definitely been moments when I thought about quitting. At times, I felt my work was not being taken seriously because some assumed that I was just another “instagram mua” like every other girl on social media. I prayed over my business and God continues to show me the way and open doors for AB Makeup Artistry.
What is the vision now and how is that vision manifesting itself in the current state of the business, what actions or plans or projects have you undertaken to keep the business going and thriving.
My vision has not changed much since I started but I have come up with different platforms for showcasing my services.
For example, I have created a YouTube channel (AB_Makeup) and there I upload tutorials of looks I create on myself and looks I create on my clients, which I call AB Glam Makeup Sessions. I also attend networking events and makeup classes hosted by well-known celebrity makeup artists. To keep my clients and followers updated, I constantly post photos or videos of my work.
In the same vain what do you think makes any business, yours included stand the test of time? What must business owners do to not just stay in business but to grow.
I believe that the ability to build rapport with your customers is the best and most important thing to make any business stand the test of time. Without your customers, your business will fall apart. Also, I have learned that knowing the basics of business will help you grow as a business owner, especially if you do not have a background/education in business like myself.
What is the one thing you want people to know about your brand/business?
One thing I want people to know about my brand is that aside from the profit, I started off by providing my services free of charge in order to build my clientele and get people to see that I am an outstanding artist. Simply put, your passion can turn into profit, but not just as quickly as you’ll want it to.
What is the one major lesson or lessons that you have learnt about doing business in your field specifically or business in general that you feel everyone should know?
One major lesson I have learned is that if you’re an outstanding artist, one who goes above and beyond for their clients, has a passion for what they do, you will get work, no matter how big or small your following is on social media.
How has your life or worldview changed (if it has) since you’ve been in business?
I have learned that it’s the simple, tasteful makeup work that goes a long way. When looking at the most popular fashion magazine covers, the makeup on the celebrity is not that of a heavily contoured/highlighted look. Rather, a fresh face, clean, and beautiful makeup application. I have learned that’s where the money is!
Where do you see your brand/business in the next 5 years? What is your big dream?
In the next 5 years, I plan on having a studio location where I would also have trained makeup artists providing services for a larger clientele. My big dream, however, is to open a beauty/makeup studio in Sierra Leone. When looking on social media, all I see for the most part are Nigerian or Ghanaian makeup artists. I plan on changing that in the near future.