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Up Close with Makeup Pro Nena Stewart

Nena Stweart makeup proWe love it when a woman takes her passion and flips it into a full-blown, successful business! After 20 years, Nena Stewart, a professional make-up artist in the Chicago area, has opened her new studio, properly named Makeup Fetish.

I caught up with Ms. Stewart to learn more about her new studio and you’ll be surprised by her inspiration behind it. She and I are from the same home town, and we also attended NIU during the same time. After spending the first 30 minutes catching up for lost times, we finally got to the interview. Read on…

KIMBERLY: I know makeup has been your passion for a very long time. How long would you say you’ve been in the game?
NENA: For about 20 years now. I was doing freelance work once I moved to Chicago in the 90’s. In 2005, I started working as a makeup artist for Sephora  part-time, and I was there for seven years. Then, back as a freelance makeup artist, so I can cultivate my own “beauty emporium.”

KIMBERLY: I remember, from our days at NIU, you were always so fly with the makeup.
NENA: I have always been into makeup and anything creative with color. It was nails, back in the day in college, plus people would always ask, “Nena can you do my makeup for the party?”

KIMBERLY: So where did you take this passion after college?
NENA: Actually, it all downsized when I got married and had my child. I ended up going through a divorce and I thought, “How am I going to pay for lawyers and all of this?”  I fell back on my talent. I got the job at Sephora and grew my clientele from there.

KIMBERLY: It’s funny you say that, because I did the same thing – well sort of. My corporate job “downsized” and I literally found myself saying, “I am out of work and I have to rely on what I know I’m good at.” I’ve been an entrepreneur since that day, four years ago.
NENA: Even when I quit Sephora, my manager actually motivated me. She said, “You’ve outgrown this.” I knew then that I needed to go freelance.

KIMBERLY: So now, take us back. You’ve left Sephora, built your clientele, and now you’re freelancing.
NENA: Yes! And business is good. But then, I moved to Chicago’s south side. And people will only drive so far. That’s what motivated me to open my studio, Makeup Fetish, and keep the studio in an area that’s convenient for my clients. Today, we have a staff of six, including myself and Lead Artist Regina Franklin.

KIMBERLY: I know you have a great job, which means you could have moved south, continued to go to work everyday, and leave the makeup business behind. You didn’t do that. What is it that keeps you going?
NENA: I love to see women who are empowered by their own beauty that they never knew about.

KIMBERLY: But how do you see that in women and pull it out?
NENA: When I first meet a woman, I can look at her face and determine her greatest assets. I’ll be thinking, “Her asset is her eyes. If I can get her in my chair, I can work that.” Some women just aren’t aware of their various features.

KIMBERLY: So you’re not just applying makeup. In most cases you are increasing self confidence and educating women at the same time.
NENA: When I have the opportunity to help women, I grab the opportunity. Some women have actually cried when they see what my artists and I can do for them with makeup. It’s always nice to see the transformation, whether it’s during one of our glam parties, a private consultation, or a bride before she walks down the aisle (see the Grand Opening Specials below).

KIMBERLY: Speaking of what you can do with makeup, what’s your signature look? What sets Makeup Fetish apart from all the other makeup studios out there?
NENA: Our looks range from classy to edgy. I like to mix the two together sometimes. For example, you can wear a natural look but add one accent to the look. Add a color (shade) of liner to your natural looking shadow or wear your natural nude gloss but add a shimmer gloss on top for a slight pop to something natural.

KIMBERLY: I like that. Before we end the interview, you have to give us some inside scoop. What important beauty advice can you give our Soul News Network readers?
NENA: Less is More! I see a lot of women who think when they have on makeup, it needs to look like they have on makeup. But actually, you need to look natural, but have something accented on your face. Makeup should only enhance, not look like you’re made up. For example, you don’t walk around with a highly contoured face all the time. People on television do that because they’re entertainers, not everyday women.

KIMBERLY: Great advice, cause some women just do too much. Although this brings us to a close for the interview, this is not the end of Nena Stewart and Makeup Fetish. In the coming weeks, you can look for her advice on Common Makeup Mistakes Women Make, Summer Colors,  Makeup Brushes, and maybe even a few group classes for our readers. But until then, here’s the contact information for Makeup Fetish studio:

1200 W. 35th Street  – Studio 5535
(Located inside the Bridgeport Art Center)

Pricing: Ranges from $40 for a simple face to $100 for wedding day makeup.

Owner: Nena Stewart
Lead Artist: Regina Franklin

Glam Parties and Lessons available.
Join them for Sassy Sip Saturday’s where you can enjoy a basic make-over before hitting the town.



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