Name: Mimi Johnson
Location: Atlanta, GA
Her Hustle: Celeb makeup artist, Owner of The Glamatory, a full-service makeup boutique, and creator of GrindPretty.com
Education: Clark Atlanta University, B.A. in Marketing
"I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I just didn't know where or what areas I was going to be. I never imagined that it would be makeup. I've always been artistic, I can paint, I can draw. And the makeup was just a passion that I fell into. I went to college in Atlanta, at CAU and I was a business major. My friends started asking me to do makeup and it just came kind of natural to me. But it wasn't until years later when I took a leap of faith years and left my corporate I.T. job in 2010. "
PROS AND CONS OF BEING YOUR OWN BOSS
"The benefits of being your own boss are being able to follow your passion wholeheartedly. I love doing makeup and I love doing events and stuff like that and working with friends. I'm able to take on different jobs and able to say "No" to different jobs. I'm also able to meet all types of people. On the downside, there's no guaranteed salary at the end of the day, unless you have a long-term project or something like that. You are on your own and you have to make sure that you make ends meet and that's always a challenge as an entrepreneur. Also health care."
ON BEING A MOM & AN ENTREPRENEUR
"It can be very difficult but my advice is to build a strong support system. Have someone to help with your child and also people you turn to for other things. Who do you know that you can go to for accounting or financial advice? Who do you trust to talk about your ideas with? Who do you trust to tell you the truth? Those are things that are needed, especially for a single mother. Another layer to this, which I've just become more open about is my son is actually autistic. So that's a whole other layer of complexity. But he motivates me to beat the odds and provide for him. I just want to be that example that shows other women that you can still follow your dreams, you just have to have the right support system. It is okay to ask for help. We can't do it all ourselves. Don't be afraid to reach out."
OTHER BOSSES SHE ADMIRES
"Well my mentor from afar is Ashunta Sheriff. She is Taraji P. Henson's make up artist and used to work with Alicia Keys and Diddy, and a slew of other people. I think we have a lot of similarities in our personality and our work style. I also admire her relationship with Taraji. Outside of the make up world, I admire people who have just really made a name for themselves like Karen Civil, or a friend of mine Tahira Joy, the owner of The Cut Life, who went from PR to building a one million plus following off of a concept that she came up with one day."
HOW SHE SUPPORTS OTHER WOMEN
"Grind Pretty is a new project that I'm starting. It's all about embracing, encouraging and being a resource for women entrepreneurs as well as women in corporate America who are fighting against odds for their position."
brand building 101
"I think it's important to understand that you have to make an investment, whether it's in your time, your talent or your knowledge. Investing in good marketing, investing in good graphics, investing in a good website. Those are things you might have to put your money into to build a successful brand."
WHAT EVERY WOMAN NEEDS IN HER MAKEUP BAG
"I tend to have darker circles under my eyes so concealer is my number one. I feel like every woman should have a good one. Maybe a brow pencil or gel would be my second. 'Cause if your brows are good, you're concealed, you got a little eyeliner or mascara, you'll look awake and refreshed."
HER HIDDEN TALENT
"I am like a human jukebox. I know every song. One of my secret passions is ... I would love to ... if this make up thing doesn't work out then I'm gonna be a DJ. Music's art. Anything artistic makes me happy."
HER DREAM CLIENTs
"I would actually love to work with Michelle Obama because once you get someone in your chair then you talk and get wisdom. I would love to do her make up and pick her brain. I think she's phenomenal. Secondly, Rihanna, simply because I love her!"
HER BEST ADVICE for aspiring artists
"With make up, someone can teach you technique, but afterwards it's really about understanding what your personal strengths are. For example, I'm not the super dramatic make up artist. My thing is enhancing natural beauty and making the person just look like a more glamorized version of themselves. Understanding that personal style helps with your brand. Actually practicing your skill and getting all the education you can is the best thing you can do. And education doesn't stop.
Also, this generation is big on searching for microwave success and wanting things to just happen over night, but it takes a lot more effort and some time to get where you want to be. So, I think that it's super important to foster genuine relationships with people and network. Every big job that I've had has not been because I reached out blindly to so-and-so, they have all been referrals. That says a lot about not only my skill, but my character. Practice, hone your skills, and be a great person. Make those connections. "
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.