Written by Cesca Janece Waterfield. Photographed by Thomas Roberts.
Originally from Philadelphia, Ayonna Draggs moved to Richmond for a fresh start almost three years ago. The relocation invigorated her lifelong interest in makeup and fashion and she enrolled at Makeup Artist Studio located in the ArtWorks Building, 41 E. 4th St. to study with Michelle Torres. “Moving here and starting fresh was the perfect reason to pursue a career in makeup,” Ayonna says. In 2007, she established her own business, Beauty by Ayonna. Today, she provides traditional and airbrushed makeup application to clients in the Richmond area and Washington D.C. She’s worked on shoots that appeared in Urban Views Weekly as well as Virginia Bride and Jet Magazine. www.beautybyayonna.com
What is your personal philosophy for makeup?
Makeup can make you or break you. It determines whether you are taken seriously, or viewed as a joke. It’s part of the first impression that you make with others. It can also boost your self esteem a great deal when worn properly. For me, makeup artistry isn’t solely about getting paid, but building women up and making them feel beautiful and empowered.
When an African American woman is choosing a makeup artist, what should she keep in mind?
Make sure the artist is equipped to work on your skin type. Ask to see samples of their work. Never assume that if the artist is African American, that they are equipped with makeup for your skin. Most importantly, communicate to them the look you are trying to achieve. This way you are not wasting time getting a look you will hate.
How should a woman choose makeup?
Choose colors that work well with your complexion. Never test foundation on the back of your hand, because your face is usually a different color. Whenever possible, purchase from places that let you try before you buy. Have fun! Don’t be afraid to take chances to find new colors that work.
How does makeup airbrushing work?
Airbrushing involves liquid makeup being sprayed on the face through an airbrush. It creates a natural flawless look. Because you can mix the colors, each client gets a customized skin match to fit her individual skin tones. It stays on for up to 12 hours, and is waterproof, and smudge-proof. Most of the brides I work with request this service.
What are some current makeup trends?
The bright colors from the 80’s and spring pastels are coming back in eye shadows. Smokey eyes are definitely still hot, and false lashes. Lips are either pale/skin tone colored or rich red shades.
What do you recommend to a person who wants to be a makeup artist?
Get trained. Reach out to photographers and models for work. Be prepared to do a lot of networking. Stay up on the latest trends in makeup. Fully immerse yourself in fashion magazines for inspiration. If it’s really your passion, you can definitely have a successful, fun and a long lasting career in this industry.
What are some of the shoots you’ve worked on?
The most recent shoot was in preparation for Richmond Fashion week, but I’ve also worked with Pete Wright Photography on the cover and inside spread of Virginia Bride Fall/Winter 2008, and also with Thomas Roberts Photography on a Jet Beauty of the Week, and on the Jamela Bullock shoot for Urban Views Weekly.
What are your biggest dreams for your business?
My dream is to expand my business by opening a beauty spa. Women go through so much on a day-to-day basis. Providing an inexpensive place for them to relax, be pampered and feel beautiful is one of my goals.