Be Beautiful: Spotlight on Three Rising Trailblazers in the Fashion and Beauty Realm

Sunday, 10 July 2011 01:02 Written by  Frances Moffett

In an industry overwhelmed by people chasing the same dream, it may be hard to differentiate yourself and prove that what you do is better than the rest. But for these three up-and-coming beauty and fashion aficionados, setting themselves apart comes naturally. Read on to see what these Glossy stars have to say about staying in the game and reaching for new heights.


Sarena Reed-Washington

Makeup Artist

CEO, Sarena’s Beauty Addiction, Joliet, Ill.

Photo credit: Scott Washington

I have been doing makeup for others since high school. It started when several female participants in the school talent show asked me to do their makeup for their performances. It then blossomed into makeup for senior pictures, proms and my girlfriends’ weddings. I guess they liked the way I applied my own makeup. Who would have thought that today, years later, I would return to my passion and become a state certified makeup artist?”

Why makeup?

“At the age of 12, my aunt introduced me to high-end designer clothes. She was so petite, so when she would get bored with an outfit she would give it to me. So I would wear designer clothes and wanted to start wearing makeup to complete the look. Being a brown-skinned girl, it was impossible to find makeup that wasn’t too dark or too light, so I would blend my own foundation until I got the right shade of color.

“I worked in the corporate arena for quite some time. I was responsible for creating specialty departments in a call center environment for large corporations. It wasn’t until the company I was working for told us that our site was being closed and we were losing our jobs that I finally decided it was time to do what I loved doing. I attended London Eyes International Academy of Makeup to receive state certification in beauty makeup. I went back to add creative, film and media makeup a few months later.”

What sets you apart?

“Professionalism and continuous improvement sets me apart. Having a corporate background taught me about branding, marketing and how to stay ahead of the game, in this case, trends.”

Advice for aspiring MUAs?

“It is very important to have a strong sense of what type of makeup you want to do and stick with it. For example, you have those who enjoy beauty makeup and are good at it, but dabble in a little special effects makeup. Master your skill! How does the saying go—‘jack of all trades, master of none’? I am a state-certified makeup artist and a licensed hairstylist. Although I feel that I am very strong in both areas, makeup is my strongest passion and that is what I promote.

“Also, practice on everyone who will let you, try different makeup styles then take pictures. Take a look at how the makeup comes across in the pictures then start all over again. Start working with local photographers to build your portfolio. Once you have enough pictures in your portfolio, you want to start editing it. You should not put every picture you worked on in your portfolio just because you did the makeup.”

Who have you worked with?

“I had an opportunity to work quite a few fashion shows in the Chicagoland area, those worth mentioning are UR Supermodel 2009 and CLEONS. Although I loved the fast pace of the runway, I decided that I enjoyed doing print work. Therefore, I have spent most of my professional career doing beauty makeup for photographers and brides.”

Future goals?

“I would like to have a salon focusing on providing makeup services. My true satisfaction is being able to do remedial makeup on burn victims, or those who have permanent birthmarks or scarring. In today’s society, if you look good on the outside, it sometimes heals the inside.”



Aaja Corinne

Stylist and Model Coach

COO, Beau Ideal, Chicago, Ill.

“I have always been an artistic person, heavily involved in the performing arts, and fashion was an avenue that I hadn’t explored. I went into it blindly after high school, majoring in fashion studies, and it just so happened that I loved it. I haven’t looked back.”

What are some of the challenges you’ve come across?

“One thing that’s challenging is finding a common medium when working with other freelance artists. As artistic people, we all have our own style of doing things, but with collaborations, you have to appease a broad group of individuals. I’ve found that getting to know people outside of the workplace will help each person to understand the other better, opening the lines of communication and making for a more successful collaboration.”

Advice for aspiring stylists?

“Brand yourself. Social networks and word-of-mouth are the two most powerful branding tools. I’ve had people to tell me that I am “Facebook Famous,” so I’m glad that my pages represent Aaja Corinne the businesswoman, the professional, etc. Some people will only know you from your web presence, so keeping a flawless reputation all around is imperative. Network. You can have a pocket full of talents, but if you don’t know the people you need to know to get your foot in the door, things will be very hard for you. Lastly, know your craft backwards and forwards. Being knowledgeable and well researched on your subject matter will just add to your credibility as an artist.”

What sets you apart?

“The Aaja Corinne Experience. You can count on me to keep my word, as well as be professional and easy to work with. We will get the job done and have a good time while doing it.

“There are so many people with the same dream – you have to be different. You have to be a brand. You have to be marketable, something like a package. I believe that creative people are multi-talented. I’m pushing myself as a fashion stylist and model coach, but I also coordinate events and sing background vocals. I believe that you should never put all of your eggs in one basket, but at the same time, make sure that everything you’re doing can in some way align with your overall goal. Daily I’m on a quest to find creative ways to get in where I fit in. As my good friend, A.J. Linton, always says, ‘Create your own opportunities.’”

Who have you worked with?

“Some of the companies that I’ve worked with are Adnaram Productions, Blake Martin Productions, Born Fresh Entertainment, Chi Love Productions, Culture Couture, D. Dot Productions and Preppy Gyrl & Co. I am the chief operating officer of fashion event production company, Beau Ideal. I also intern for celebrity stylist Tamika Martell of A-Line Style Services and bridal/ready-to-wear designer Anna Fong.”

Future goals?

“In three to five years, I plan to be a full-time, freelance fashion stylist with a host of celebrity clients. I am also working on a concept for a not-for-profit organization centered on youths, charity, mentorship and education; eventually, that will be my main focus. The glitz and glam is cool, but I really just want to help people in whatever I do. My overall goal in life is to be an inspiration, positive influence and make an impact on the lives of everyone I meet. I will leave a legacy behind for the generations to come.”

Khadija Parham

Makeup Artist

CEO, D’vine Beauty, Zion, Ill.

Photo credit: Onyx with 2tightmagazine


“I have always done hair and makeup, and my grandmother was a makeup artist for Fashion Fair Cosmetics. So it was like second nature with watching her apply cosmetics on other people and going to cosmetology school as a junior in high school.”

What sets you apart?

“I try a creative approach when applying makeup applications and making sure that the client is satisfied with her or his look, by doing a consultation and offering skin care advice, offering MAC cosmetics as a product line, and informing them on the how to’s.

“I feel that it is very important to differentiate myself from other makeup artists, because I want my clients to feel and look like their time and money was well-spent. [I also provide] superb service, product knowledge and a genuine concern for their needs.”

Who have you worked with?

I have worked with Awesome Bods, Bovanti Cosmetics, Color Me Beautiful, Prioleau Photography, Vision Quest Pictures, Skinnymen Productions, The Industry Magazine, Maurice Andrews and World Premiere.

Advice for aspiring MUAs?

Do not to give up, be innovative—and blending is key.

Future goals?

I want to be able to do makeup on set for major television networks. I am training to be able to do prosthetic cosmetics, scars and wounds for theatrical and horror films.


Frances Moffett

Frances Moffett

GMO Editor-At-Large Frances Moffett is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. She has worked with GMO since its inception. With a love for journalism and all things writing, she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. Frances is also an editor at the country’s largest association management company and has written for a variety of publications, including Jet magazine, The Chicago Defender and The Chicago Reporter.

Frances can be contacted at

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