Rodan + Fields Radiant Defense
October 14, 2018
Jesse Lahart is a dear childhood friend that I grew up with in Japan. She’s shared some Rodan + Fields products for me to try out. She’s also been killing it in sales! If you’re not familiar with Rodan + Fields, they are the two Dermatologists behind Proactiv acne products. They have expanded into a full skin care line that caters to an array of needs and their newest product line is called Radiant Defense.
It’s a “Cosme-ceutical” which is a cosmetic product with some skin care benefits built in. It’s a lightweight tinted moisturizer with ingredients like antioxidants and SPF 30 to help give your skin defense against the environment and sun damage. It comes in six flexible shades and I approve this product for folks of color. It can be worn alone for sheer on the go coverage. I used mine underneath my makeup at a tinted primer.
It feels great on the skin helps to even out skin tone without having to apply full foundation. It retails at $66 for 1.69 fl oz of product. Just for comparison, my MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation is 1.0 fl oz and it’s plenty of product! They also have a great shade finder tool on the website to take the guess work out of finding your perfect shade. My “Before & After” is below! Shop R+F with Jesse here Rodan + Fields and make sure to follow me on social!
Surgery Day: Removing My Fibroids
October 5, 2018
It’s been a quite a journey figuring out what exactly was wrong with me but I’m happy to say I’m hopeful that I’ve found a solution. December 2017 was the first time I really noticed that my periods had become a lot heavier than usual. But not really any cause for concern. This continued and was manageable until March 2018.
While working on a photo shoot I experienced what felt like having an entire period spill out of me at once. I had to leave the shoot immediately and I called my midwife (yes midwives do a lot more than just deliver babies). The same thing happened the next day even though I was already wearing a tampon.
Midwest Center for Women’s Health is a wonderful network of Obstetricians, Gynecologists and Midwives. An ultrasound revealed that I had a three uterine fibroids that could be the culprit. We first tried birth control to curb the heavy bleeding. I had also switched from using tampons to a menstrual cup (an entire blog post on its own). We waited for two cycles to see if there was an improvement. And there was not. In fact, it had gotten worse. The bleeding had gotten heavier and constant.
This left me stressed because I had to be prepared at all times. To be sure I could avoid having an accident at work, in the car, while running errands or at home. This also left me tired and weak from losing so much blood. It was time to bring in a doctor for possible surgical options. Midwife Gina and Dr. Ellman worked to get to the root of the problem and to find a solution that was as non invasive as possible.
After two more ultrasounds, a fourth fibroid was found and was determined to be the problem. It was protruding into my uterine cavity. My uterus, thinking it was a foreign object, was now constantly trying to get rid of it which was causing me to bleed so much. We all agreed that a Hysteroscopy Myomectomy was the way to go and would ensure I could still have children if that is something I want to do. I included a brief animated video so you could get the gist of the procedure.
Fast forward to surgery day. My mom travelled up from Orlando to be with me. I was surrounded by love. My cousin Kish and my girlfriend Tonja were also there with me. Everyone was calm and encouraging. I could not have asked for a better surgery crew. I was the first case of the day, so we arrived at 7:00 am sharp. I received a fast acting anesthesia from an IV and remember none of the surgery.
The procedure took about an hour and I am still recovering. I feel good so far but I feel it’s too soon to give a final assessment on the success of the surgery. I’ll be checking in with an update. I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to my Mom, Akisha and Tonja! Y’all are the real MVPs. And also to my other family members and friends who supported me throughout this entire ordeal.
Thank you to everyone on social who listened to my story and offered their support and shared their own stories with me. My hope is to bring more awareness to fibroids and the various complications that can come with them. And to erase any negative stigma around women’s reproductive health. I did not even know what fibroids were until they became a problem for me. And I don’t think women share about this enough and there isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t.
OTR II Houston: VIP Experience!
September 18, 2018
I was offered the chance of a lifetime to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z perform for not only OTR II, but with Club Carter VIP access and in her hometown of Houston?! That means stage and runway views of Bey up close, access to two full bars (which I didn’t even utilize) and an OTR swag bag. Mind. Blown. Like Chiquita’s friend Sherausha says... “Say less!”. I’m there!
I mean the show was pure adrenaline from beginning to end which is why alcohol was not necessary. Plus, I just didn’t want to miss a minute of it. DJ Khaled opened and brought out H-Town royalty. We caught Bun B (RIP Pimp C), Slim Thug and Paul Wall. Shout out to the south and early 00’s!
Can we talk about the visuals for a sec? Man, I am just really living for all the aesthetics and this story. Like, it’s really possible to redeem your relationship from the ultimate betrayal if true love is really there and both people are equally invested. Or, at least that was my interpretation. The wardrobe and costumes are even more amazing in person. Photos do not do them any justice.
I lost it when APESHIT came on! Like, Everything is Love is my shit right now! This was the quickest out of town trip I’ve ever made but it was SO WORTH IT! I was able to spend time with my girlfriend and her family who graciously invited us to experience this spectacle. I had never been to a Beyoncé show let alone the OTR Tour. And I def wouldn’t have seen it in VIP! Shout out to Kareem and Evelyn for making dreams come true out here! Love y’all!
Jazzin at the Shedd
September 10, 2018
I was introduced to this event when I first moved to Chicago and I go every summer. It’s super chill vibes and provides a different way to see the Shedd Aquarium in a nearly kid free atmosphere complete with food, cocktails, dolphins and live music. Tip: Illinois residents can attend free at the end of the season. The event runs until October 3rd. And I highly recommend it for date nights or for marine biology nerds.
In a 90’s Kinda World...
September 3, 2018
Like many #ElderMillennials such as myself, the 90s was an era that cultivated my taste for pretty much everything I’m attracted to today. Everything from TV, movies to snacks and clothing. Oh, what a time to be alive! Our latest team photo shoot was inspired by the 90s and beautifully shot by Randal Finklea. Here’s list of random things I obsessed over in the 90s.
My high school in Japan voted Killing Me Softly as the official song for our homecoming. Lauren Hill is single-handedly responsible for my love of dark matte lipsticks.
was also a personal fave. I asked my Mom once if I could cut and bleach my hair like T-Boz and the answer was a resounding, “Absolutely not”.
Delia’s & Seventeen Magazine
I regularly lost myself for hours in Delia’s catalogs and Seventeen magazines. I loved Delia’s quirky and carefree style although, I never ordered anything. And Seventeen made me think outside the box in regards to makeup. My favorite section was always the editorial shoot at the end of every issue.
I loved Lil Kim and Foxy Brown! Just don’t tell my parents. Despite their supposed beef, they managed to change the image of women in Hip Hop forever. You could be tough, have sex appeal, get what you want on your own terms and be unapologetic for it all.
Missy changed it ALL the way up for me. She epitomizes what it is to truly be an artist and to think outside the box. The real definition to the words “free thinker”. She had me at Supa Dupa Fly...
Aaliyah was the girl all my friends wanted to be. Super laid back, had flawless makeup and hair. I believe she was the originator of what we call “ athleisure” today.
Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis/Playstation
Once upon a time I was a gamer. I fought my little brother all the time for the Player 1 spot. We played Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat on Sega and the Mario World on Super Nintendo for endless hours over summer break.
My brother and I saved up our allowance and took it to the “Yen Store” just outside the Air Force base. The owner sold all the Japanese candies and snacks we loved including Pocky sticks and umeboshi (pickled plum). She also sold Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z cards we traded with friends at school. The other magical thing about Japan is that you can find a vending machine that sells virtually almost anything. Soft drinks, coffee, hamburgers. You name it.
At the time we lived overseas, all the tv programming was chosen for us and it was also delayed. Not only that, but the American commercials were cut out and replaced with military ads. (I’ve managed to find some really old ridiculous ones on YouTube). Some of the shows in heavy rotation at our house were Fresh Prince, Martin, Moesha, SNL and Living Single. I know Sister Sister was a hit, but I HATED it! I did not want to be Tia or Tamera and Roger’s character reinforced the trash concept of coercion for boys everywhere. 10 No’s that turn into a Yes is still a No...
I was a real book nerd too. Goosebumps and Babysitters Club were my favorite series. BSC still gets props from me for diversity. The writer created both Black and Asian characters and did not making either one of them adopted by a white family. I also read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I want to re-read this one because I’m sure I’ll get more out of it now that I’m older...
Who could forget about the movies? I loved anything touched by Tim Burton. Beetlejuice, Edward Scissor Hands, Nightmare Before Christmas. I HATE horror movies, so they were a a nice in bridge between comedy and horror. Plus the goth vibes we’re so freaking real. My other all time fave is Clueless! No lie, I have seen seen this move no less than 50 times. I LIVED for Cher and Dion. It’s too bad real life Dion turned out to be such a lame.
I’m always get my “Black Card” threatened when I admit I haven’t seen some of our classics in their entirety. Such as Boyz N the Hood and New Jack City. I plan on catching up one day. But, one I just cannot stand more than the rest. And that is Love Jones. Sorry, not sorry. Partly because I grown when I finally saw it for the first time. And second of all, who falls for the spoken word dude? Not to mention there are some inaccuracies of Chicago that are depicted.
Taylor Mallory NEW Album
Take Control Available NOW!
August 24, 2018
Congratulations to my friend Taylor Mallory on the realease of his first album Take Control! There are 12 tracks with features from Chicago saxophonist Jeff Gibbs and Level Next label mate DJ Ajonra. My personal faves are Green Tea, Way Back and Take Control. Of course I think issa banger! Duh!! You can find his album anywhere you like to stream music.
I forgot to mention Taylor’s been spotted on Windy City Live, The Jam and now his face is being aired nationally in a Corona commercial with Tony Romo (all I know is he’s an NFL player, but ya girl doesn’t know much about the sports). Take Control gets five sushi rolls from me! Taylor and Level Next did an amazing job on this project!
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August 20, 2018
Most of my favorite comfort foods remind me of when my family and I lived in Japan. My second fave is foods we’d eat on holidays. Although I’ve been fairly successful at maintaining a plant based diet, I do allow myself the comfort when I need it. Especially if I’m stressed or have high anxiety. I decided to make Gyoza (pronounced Gee-Oh-Zah) which is usually made with pork and vegetables and can be prepared either steamed (which most people recognize as potstickers) or fried.
I did a quick search on YouTube for a vegan recipe, preferably created by an actual Japanese person. Nothing is worse than watching a notoriously white Tasty tutorial on how to make some dish from PoCs culture. Anywho, I found the below video and chose to fry my dumplings instead of steaming them.
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Blush Isn’t Just For Cheeks
August 13, 2018
I get bored rather easily with makeup and these days my IG feed is just more of the same. Dumb makeup challenges and more cut creases you’d ever know what to do with. I have been feeling so uninspired. I decided to change it up and look elsewhere for inspiration. I found exactly what I was looking for in my Pinterest app!
I decided to start with a makeup basic: Blush
Now, you can just wear it the good ole fashioned way and just apply it on the cheeks and call it a day. But that’s super boring. I decided to give y’all three different takes on the same product:
Look 1 is apretty basic blush application layered with a highlighter
Look 2 is a bit more dramatic with the addition of shadow and lashes. I applied more highlights to the brow bone
Look 3 was definitely inspired by anime and cosplay makeup styles. This is really a thing, look it up. Blush is applied over the bridge of the nose and underneath the eyes as apposed to just the cheeks.
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Devices + Apps
July 28, 2018
Once upon a time I used to own an Android device (gasp!). But I have seen the light and have been a proud owner of an iPhone for the last four or five years. I really like the simplicity and more adult nature of Apple products. A few years ago Akisha got the team together to create vision boards. It wasn’t something I was overly enthusiastic about, but I can say it really did help me with some short term goals. One of them was to obtain more Apple products.
I expanded my collection with an iPad Pro, then the Apple Pencil and the keyboard. I’m able to get a lot of work done on a device with a large display without the bulk of a laptop. It also serves an outlet for the creativity I rarely have the time to get in during the work day/week.
As far as photo editing, some of my fave apps are Darkroom, Snapseed and Instasize. If you’re interested in learning how I use these apps hit me up on Instagram @makeuptrapsushi
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My Heart is in New Orleans
July 9, 2018
I’ve wanted to travel to New Orleans for the longest. I had been pricing airfares thru my fave travel app Hopper. Tickets were $300+ for months and I wasn’t sure about taking so much time off work. But when I got a notification that it had dropped down to $142 I jumped on it!
I tagged along with my girlfriend Tonja and her mom Gwen who had already made their own travel and hotel arrangements. I started making lists and researching places to see and where to eat. I got to do plenty, but did not cross everything off my list. That’s fine, it only means I have to visit again.
The vibe is just completely different there. The people are genuine, they look you in the eye and they are passionate about their city. We stayed at the Marriott on Canal St. just a few blocks from Bourbon St. The Hand Grenade is a staple beverage that is a mystery concoction with a melon flavor. They serve it on the rocks or frozen. You really only need one to get you thru the night (or day).
The food is amazing, however, I recommend you eat away from Bourbon St. Beingets are a must from Cafe Du Monde. My advice is try not to inhale or exhale while biting into it. The powdered sugar will get everywhere! Our Uber driver, a thirty year resident, recommended Willie Mae’s Scotch House for fried chicken. There may be a line, but it’s worth the wait! Another place he advised was Dooky Chase’s. This place has a long history in its involvement in the Civil Rights era and serves Creole and souls food favorites and the menu changes daily. The line was a two hour wait and we did not make it...
We traveled to Slidell, LA for the Cajun Enounters swamp tour. I was a bit hesitant getting on that boat but I was fine. It was actually peaceful and insightful. Our guide taught us about all the vegetation and wildlife out there. There were def alligators. And we saw several large structures that had been washed into the swamp by Hurricane Katrina that remain unclaimed.
We caught the very first trickles of folks coming in for the Essence Festival and it was insane! Our hotel put on a full on party in the lobby and at some point we forgot all about going back to Bourbon St. It says a lot that a business like the Marriott would conduct such a celebratory welcome for their guests of a festival with a primarily Black presence. I would not expect to see anything like that in Chicago.
My trip to New Orleans was wonderful and it is highly recommended you visit. I really want to go back and attend Essence Fest next time.
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June 25, 2018
I spent the better half of my childhood raised in Japan, which is an island in the Pacific inhabited by very few Black faces. My Mom and Dad also grew up as military dependents and lived overseas as kids, so this wasn’t unusual at all. As I get older, I become more appreciative of my family’s service to this country and for the life experiences their service has afforded me.
When we made the trip back to the states (for good) we were stationed in a small midwestern town surrounded by corn fields. My worst nightmare. I was enrolled in a nearby middle school and it was made very clear that my life experiences thus far were not “normal” and I did not fit in.
In gym class I was roasted daily by two classmates. They scrutinized the way I talked, my clothes, my hair and apparenty “I thought I was cute” which warranted more shit from them. My interests did not align with that of my new peers either. I read manga (you can Google it), watched cartoons (and still do), wore makeup and obsessed over Delia’s catalogs.
Looking back, we really weren’t that different. We all had teenage drama, insecurities, hobbies, friends and family we love and care for. TBH, I had let this experience taint my ability to make friends with other Black women for a long time. Over the years I have learned to let go of my apprehensions and be open to friendships. I also have grown to love my unconventional interests and upbringing. And as for the two girls who gave me shit during gym class... Let’s just say they peaked in high school.
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June 22, 2018
Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy is def one of my Summer ‘18 bangers and I’m a proud member of the #BardiGang. Her hit “I Like It” uses a Celia Cruz (legendary Afro-Latina Artist) sample and features two LatinX artists, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, who we (the American Hip Hop audience) otherwise may not have ever heard of. The video is bright and colorful and I was really drawn to the pinks used. Check out my inspo-look below!
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You Gotta DIY!
June 18, 2018
This DIY project all started last Summer. I bought a colorful print of a cute little Shih Tzu dog that reminded me of my sweet Suki who had recently passed away. I was also feeling anxiety about my Mom and brother coming to visit me in Chicago for the first time. I wanted them to see how “artsy” my new apartment was. Afterall... I’m a creative.
Honestly, the apartment was bare bones in the decor department, with the exception of this print that had been tacked up to a wall. I wanted to honor my dog’s memory respectfully, so I clipped a Michaels store coupon for 70% off a custom frame, rolled up the print and headed over.
I did not know the first thing about framing a damn thing. First, I looked at their ready-made frames and was immediately overwhelmed. At the custom frame station a nice man helped me pick out a sleek, metallic black gallery frame with a crisp white mat. It was perfect.
When it came time to pick out the glass he suggested the museum glass. This sounded fancy and super adult so I agreed to the museum glass. He rang everything up and the total came out to a whopping $270... TF?! Where was the 70% discount? He tells me that was with the discount! I even downgraded to plexiglass and it still came to about $150.
I rationalize making such a frivolous purchase by convincing myself that this would be the first adult purchase for my new apartment. I paid for the frame and was advised it would be ready for pick up within a week. I drove away feeling uneasy about the transaction. I felt sick. When I got home, lied down and took a nap. I woke up an hour later sick to my stomach. I called the store and cancelled the frame order. I drove back to picked up my print and thanked the gentleman for his time. I just could not part with $150 for this frame...
How hard could it be to frame this thing myself? I headed back to Michaels again, but this time on a mission to find a ready-made frame. I measured my print and found a frame that would fit best. I also found matting and watched a YouTube video on how to cut a mat myself. This small project turned out great.
Suki now hangs proudly over my radiator. This led me to collecting and framing photographs and prints (even some of my own artwork) I love, slowly building an eclectic gallery. I am no longer intimidated by the frame section at Michaels, and I’ve become a regular at my Walgreens Photo department. I’m now open to the world of DIY and craft... See some pics of my project below!
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Black Girls Watch Anime Too
June 15, 2018
I grew up on a lot of anime when I lived in Japan. Some of my faves were Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Totoro, Anpan Man and Kureyon Shin Chan. And I was OBSESSED with all things kawaii (cute). Literally anything Sanrio. Hello Kitty, Bad Batz Maru, Keroppi, Pochacco... The list goes on. Anime characters tend to have really large doe-like eyes and small mouths. I plan on experimenting with more anime inspired looks.
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June 11, 2018
Prom is definitely 100x more extravagant than it was in my day (which wasn’t that long ago). Today, prom means designer gowns, luxury cars and entire send off celebrations complete with a DJ and catering. I had absolutely none of that for my prom. It’s also possible that my prom was mundane due to attending a predominantly white high school. Let’s face it, Black proms are just lit AF! Facts. Which leaves me feeling like I want a prom do-over. And based on the feedback I received, I’m not the only one.
Below are some pics from my beautiful prom client, Briana, at her send off party!
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Everything is Gucci
June 8, 2018
I was way overdue for a trip
to my fave salon in Rogers Park. T Nail Bar always comes thru with the nails. I was really looking for something simple (hence the nude polish) but also wanted to jazz it up a bit. And the result was the simple Gucci stripes and decals. Check out their work on Instagram
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Creativity Struggle Bus
May 28, 2018
I was really struggling to find inspiration for new makeup looks. I started on at least three different looks only to get to the very end and f*ck up the wing liner (just throw the whole look away). Or, I just was not pleased with the color combos. I was frustrated to say the least but, I was finally able to come thruuuuu! I played in shades of oranges and reds from my Juvia’s Place and Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes to get this look right here!
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The Saharan Blush Vol 1 & 2
May 18, 2018
I literally haven’t worn blush in a few years,
it had been strictly contour and highlight. But these two palettes from Juvia’s Place were very hard to pass up. Both palettes come with four matte shades of blush and two shimmer shades that can also work as highlighters. And you know I love to support a Black owned business. This brand was primarily known for their highly pigmented eyeshadow palettes and are expanding the line to include more products.
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New Looks + Double A Makeup
May 6, 2018
Arielle Antoinette is the beautiful owner of Double A Makeup. She’s an Atlanta based Makeup Artist with celebrity clientele including Toya Wright, Reginae Carter and Zonnique Pullins. I absolutely love her mink lash line and have been wearing them for months. She just recently launched a matte lipstick and I LOVE IT! I’m wearing the line in the looks below.
Use my code SUSHI20 for 20% off your order at Double A Makeup!
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BTS at the Black Women’s Expo Chicago!
April 9, 2018
It was a dream to work with Mielle Organics at this year’s Black Women’s Expo Chicago this past Saturday. I was able to work with three lovely women who, would later serve as models for product demonstrations. Mielle Organics is a huge hit with naturalistas all over the country and is growing! Whether you rock your natural curls or need heat protection while silk pressing your hair, they have you covered. Check out the photo gallery for a taste of some my werk BTS!
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Photo Shoot ALERT!
April 2, 2018
Karisia is the founder of her own talent agency Black Sushi Entertainment that celebrates diversity and equality. Here are a few images on our shoot. Makeup is by me of course.
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Puttin’ In Werk
March 19, 2018
My clients have really been giving me life these days! Thank you London, Chiquita, Quin and Karisia for lending your faces as my canvas.
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Natural, But Not Basic
February 26, 2018
This week I’m serving a natural look but you know I had to be a little extra with the glow! If you want to see this look in more detail head to my Instagram!
MAKEUP Trap Sushi: Part 1
February 19, 2018
I have been enamoured with art and makeup since I was about four or five years old. A family friend gifted me what seemed like a pirate’s treasure chest full of makeup. There was more makeup than I could have ever known what to do with, and I haven’t left makeup alone since.
I was the kind of child who enjoyed playing “dress up” over baby dolls or “house”. My Mom even helped me with my Barbie photo shoots (Yes, we actually got the pictures developed). I was less interested in mother-like play and most interested in play that involved my imagination and creativity.
In grade school I was all about Art class. Mr. Sweigert adored me and he encouraged my creativity across different art mediums. Whether it was paint, clay, craypas or pencil, I always enjoyed my time in that class. SUN MAGAZINE was a big deal at the time for student artists K-12th grade. Mr. Sweigert and my parents urged me to submit my art work and I was published not once but twice!
In middle school I had become interested in fashion magazines like Seventeen and Harper’s Bazaar. Editorial makeup was just so edgy compared to the boring way “everyday women” wore it. And it was expressing something that words could not.
I didn’t dare experiment because I knew damn well it was not going to be accepted. So instead, I settled for wearing Revlon’s ColorStay lipstick in the shade Raisin, the first makeup I ever wore to school. My parents never forbid me to wear makeup, unlike a lot of my friends. Before school they’d always beg me to let them try it on, but fearfully removed all traces of it before we got home from school. Not me.
In high school I had friends but was rarely invited out on the weekends. So what did I do? I practiced applying my makeup. And I was far from perfect. Practice was frustrating but it was also my “me time”. I was spending time getting to know myself, taking care of myself without any interruptions.
And that is exactly how I see it today. It’s a form of therapy for me when I sit at my vanity and start applying my makeup. Unbothered. The only difference is now I have a f*ck it attitude when it comes to wearing bolder makeup. It’s never going to be for everybody. But it’s 1000% for me.
Rosè ALL DAY.
February 12, 2018
V-Day def inspires MUAs/MUEs to utilize shades of pink...
Makeup TRAP Sushi: Part 2
February 5, 2018
Where did I get my love for trap music? It really started after I graduated high school. I moved away from an Air Force base in the middle of a Midwestern suburbanite dust bowl to the eternal sunshine of Orlando, Florida. Gucci Mane, TI and Jeezy were just a few of the hip hop artists I was inundated with down in Florida. It’s also where I learned about Dance Hall and Reggeaton.
I was attending Valencia College full time and working as a third key for a Fashion Nova-esque boutique at the mall with racks of club attire at our disposal. My new coworkers-turned-besties dragged me to nightclubs from Thursday to Sunday and trap music was the backdrop for everything we got into. Trap was there when we schemed on getting into VIP for free Moët. It was there when we cheered on our girl Iesha in a dance off against another young lady who was certified wasted. It was there when I quit my serving gig at a nightclub and gave every single man the middle finger as I stormed out.
It was our way of life. In our mind we were the Suzy to Gucci. TI was personally telling us we could have whatever we liked. Future was demanding you turn on the lights in the club because he was looking for us. And as the genre evolves I have grown to love it even more. And sometimes I wonder if I will ever outgrow trap...
Makeup Trap SUSHI: Part 3
January 28, 2018
So,what exactly is the sushi of Makeup Trap Sushi? Well, I can tell you that it’s more than just my love for delicious salmon nigiri. It embodies the parts of me that are influenced by Asian culture. Primarily Japanese culture.
I’m Black, and I am also proud of and acknowledge my Japanese heritage. My grandmother (maternal) is Japanese and when I was five we made the move as an active duty military family to Yokota Air Force Base, Japan. The place where we would reside for nearly a decade of my life.
My childhood memories consist of overnight field trips to Mt. Fuji, all things Sanrio, watching really delayed episodes of American TV, lots of good Japanese food, Sailor Moon and a short stint in modeling. And this was my norm.
Our elementary school had a “Culture” class, in addition to Art, PE and Music. This was where we learned the language, geography and customs of our host country. Ms. Shirasu was my favorite because she taught us origami and let us watch Totoro. I didn’t like Mr. Tsunaga because he snitched on me once for talking too much in class. Luckily, I got home before Mom and Dad and deleted his voicemail ASAP (Nice try Tsunaga san).
Sakura (cherry blossom) trees bloomed every Spring and lined the streets like soft pink clouds. As the season turned, the petals fell from the trees like light pink snowflakes. Our friend Sueiko came to visit us from Virginia once. She took me with her to visit her family in Osaka. It was my first time experiencing a Japanese bath house. We toured a castle, had a crazy run in with a cicada bug and I (unknowingly) ate fish eggs for the first time.
I remember walking (sometimes skating) to the “Yen Store” with my brother and friends a few blocks right outside the base. We spent our allowance on Pocky Sticks, Lotte candy, shrimp chips and Sailor Moon cards. I was a serious collector. I mean SERIOUS!
I’ll always remember walking the massive crosswalks in Ginza, seeing Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Disneyland, taking the bullet train and wearing a kimono for a traditional tea ceremony. In seventh grade I finally learned hiragana and katakana. So, technically I can read and write (very slowly).
Once we returned back to the states, I soon realized how different our experience had been from most other kids. And as an adult I still find it hard to relate at times. But it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. My grandma has not been with us for many years and I’m grateful to have lived and experienced first hand the place where she was from. It will always be a huge part of me.
January 22, 2018
Apparently, most folks have a very narrow idea of what a Makeup Artist (MUA) is “suppose” to be. In my experience, the ideas of success that get projected onto me usually include a celebrity clientele and jet setting around the world getting credit for magazine covers and red carpet looks. This narrow minded idea has caused me a lot of stress trying to live up to other people’s expectations. But, ultimately it forced me to decide what kind of Makeup Artist I’d like to be.
In the age of social media the possibilities are endless. Some artists work in solitary which allows them creative freedom. Some regularly work with clients, but that also means they work around other people’s schedules. There are those who work in film and television, which is a whole ‘nutha beast. And some work in the fashion and editorial realm on shoots and runway shows. Aesthetic, preference and style are an entirely separate conversation.
What they all have in common are supplemental streams of income. Some collaborate with brands promoting or creating beauty products. MUAs offer workshops or seminars to teach their techniques. Others get paid for making public appearances. The list goes on...
If you are an aspiring Makeup Artist please explore all of your options and figure out what kind of work is most fulfilling to you. You will make mistakes, and that is okay. If you have an aspiring MUA in your life, be supportive, listen and don’t project. After all, most people don’t like to be told how to do their job, and this isn’t any different.
Pretty Girls Love Trap Music
January 8, 2018
Trap overload?! I think not. Just feeling playful and experimenting with my color contacts, bamboo earrings and “Trap” hat. I was due for a fill-in at T Nail Bar and I couldn’t resist adding the Cardi B decals!
Issa New Year!
January 2, 2018
2017 was quite a year. There were some highs and lows. But, what is life without obstacles? It’s how we handle the struggle that’s most important. There are a few things I learned about myself that I’ll be taking with me into 2018. First and foremost is becoming “woke”.
It started early in the first quarter. I began listening to podcasts for the first time. Gaining more insight about systematic racism, intersectionality, colorism in the Black community, benevolent sexism, overt sexism, etc... I couldn’t stop, which was not good. Not. At. All. Burning myself out by obsessing over all the injustices of the world was a hard lesson I had to learn.
On a brighter note I was able to really tap into what really inspires me. Thus the change from the old Beauty Edition blog to a brighter and shiny-er MakeupTrapSushi! It feels so good to have an identity and space that really speaks to me. I have some wonderful ideas and additions I want to bring to you all in 2018. I hope your’re ready.
Sharing is caring, right? I began sharing more of my life on social media than I ever had. Pictures are pretty cool and all. But, you’re only getting a fraction of who I really am. I want to continue connecting with you all personally. I gained so much more appreciation for my audience when I decided to make myself more vulnerable.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do hope to resolve my goals for 2018 and beyond. Thank you all for your continued support and inspiring me. I wish you all the best in 2018!
XoXo - Nicky
December 12, 2017
I wanted to say THANK YOU to all my wonderful, beautiful makeup clients this year! You all have allowed me to challenge myself and grow in more ways than one!
FENTY Stunna Lip Paint
December 4, 2017
First I tried the Killawatt highlighter in Trophy Wife. That was a hit! I passed on the ultra glittery Galaxy Palette. But this Stunna Lip Paint was right up my alley! Prior to it’s 11/23 release, FENTY was doing a fantastic job demonstrating this “universal” red on a vast array of skin tones.
I love the multi faceted packaging. And you get a lot of product to justify spending the $24. This’ll last you for many, many applications. The applicator itself is like no other. I mean, it gives a precision application without having to use a liner. Riri has done it again ladies and gents! Below are some pics with me in my Stunna Lip Paint.
Nailed It! (Finally)
November 27, 2017
Since my beloved Nail Tech/Artist Adina moved far, far, away to a land called ATL, l have been to a few different nail techs and salons. Some disastrous and some just so-so.
First was Naughty Nailz in Humboldt Park. Their Instagram profile warns of the gratuitous used of profanity. Which was fine with me, but the shop was just as dirty as their mouths. They do great work, but the filth was just unbearable.
Then, l found Michael at a shop in my neighborhood. He’s super friendly and did great work. His sister opened a salon downtown and l followed. l kept asking for more, but he was pretty set on doing conventional/safe nails. No frills. He was nice, but l was bored. I found myself visiting less and less.
On my trip to and from work l had passed the same vacant nail salon a million times over. And finally, the space became occupied by T Nail Bar. The owner is a sweet girl named Tuyen, who had a dream of owning her own salon. We bonded over sharing stories about living as military dependents.
They do ALL the things nail fanatics dream of. Ombré, matte, 3D forms, designs, you name it. And it got even better when she mentioned that her husband is Black. Which technically means I’m supporting a Black business! T Nail Bar is my newfound home and they literally had me at “Issa Grand Opening”!
November 20, 2017
There’s just something about a metallic lipstick. It’s flashy but not overbearing. Maybe your go to is a classic red lip. Why not try a metallic version? Matte... Been there! Gloss... Done that! And glitter is reserved for occasions when you’re feeling really, really extra. These metallic lippes are by Jordana Cosmetics and I spotted them at my local Walgreens. They come in an array of edgy colors and I picked up three for myself. I think you should give them a try.
Nicky Featured in FairPlay Music Video
Dircted by Billy Kauck!
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 15, 2017
October is synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness, but did you know it's also the month for Domestic Violence Awareness? Please click below to hear about my own experience with domestic violence and why I won't use the ever popular word "beat" to describe my makeup. Thousands of you have viewed, liked, shared and commented on this post. Thank you so much for your support!
Am I Too #Woke?
August 21, 2017
This year I have really focused on trying to educate myself on social issues. Mostly pertaining to the Black community, specifically Black women. Whether it's a TED Talk about intersectionality, a podcast episode on the history of violence against Black women or watching documentaries about our prison system. I've really tried to absorb enough knowledge to have a critical thought about the world around me.
So much so, that I haven't given those around me any time to catch up. There's just so much I want to share, all the time. Mind you, my daily commute allows me to listen to my favorite podcasts for an hour and fifteen each way. I would definitely say I'm #woke.
But is there such a thing as too woke? I'm now more fearless in expressing my views publicly. A part of me does want others to know that I'm not just a pretty face but rather a multi-faceted person with my own thoughts and opinions. I admit I may have ingested too much information too quickly which resulted in a burn out. I often feel angry about all the injustice. I'm terrified about being complacent. And I'm frustrated that everyone else isn't always on the same page.
I needed to chill basically. Nicky did that. So, hopefully you won't have to go through that (see what I did there). But seriously, you don't want to overwhelm yourself or others when your ultimate goal is to make a positive change. Here are some ways to take baby steps towards getting #woke:
Choose one (or two) causes - You don't have to take on #ImWithKap, Black Lives Matter, Slut Walk and Neo Nazis ALL at the same damn time.
Dedicate some time, not all your time - Learning is fundamental but set limits on how much you can fully digest. Maybe it's 1-2 hours a week to start.
Check your ego - Of course you were raised right, but that doesn't make you better than anyone else. You can't really be learning if you inherently feel like others are beneath you.
Get ready to be uncomfortable - We can't ask others to do for us what we're not willing to do ourselves for others. And, you can't fully understand something if the only perspective you care to understand is your own.
Join us in the #SpeakUp conversation! Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed. Make sure you follow me on:
BET Awards/First Trip to LA!
June 26, 2017
I've never been to Los Angeles and wasn't really at the top of my list until my makeup client gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. She offered me tickets to the BET Awards at Microsoft Theater, passes to BET Fan Fare at the LA Convention Center, BET Live and the featured concerts at Staples Center! I'd have a chance to see a new city, spend some time with my LA friends, werk and experience BET weekend! Here's the flow:
7AM Flight from Chicago (team no sleep)
10AM Land in Los Angeles
12PM Lunch at Ordoñez (open 24 hours)
3PM Hotel check in Hilton Garden Inn
4PM Nap time!
11PM All Black Party @The Reserve
10AM Breakfast... Didn't happen
11AM BET Radio Room JW Marriott LA Live
12PM Brunch @ Yard House
1PM Head back to Hilton Garden Inn
5PM DJ Khalid Day Party @ Penthouse
8PM Bryson Tiller/Jhene Aiko @ Staples Center
10AM Breakfast with Laretta at Sweet Chick
3PM Lunch @ Tom's Urban
4PM BET Experience @ LACC
5PM Fashion + Beauty @ LACC
6PM Cocktails @ JW Marriott
10AM Breakfast @ Ordoñez (again)
1PM Meet @ Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills
3PM Arrive @ Microsoft Theater
5PM BET Awards start!
Make sure you follow me on:
Dreams Los Cabos
November 14, 2016
Friday was the big day! Thank you to our beautiful guests, RA Sushi for catering our amazing sushi platters and Hyatt Place Chicago - South/University Medical Center for hosting our event. A very special shout out to my long time friend Myke Silva for geting me involved, DJ Ajonra who provided the sounds and videography for the night, Photographer Tito Garcia, my wonderful team at AINIOM Akisha Lockhart and Chiquita Carey. Thank you to our beauty sponsor To Dye For Cosmetics for being our vendor for the evening! Thank you to our sponsor Ra Sushi Chicago for all the yummy, yummy sushi! Check out our photo gallery below. Of course we had to hit the #MannequinChallenge MUA style! Click here to view our video The MUA Tour #MannequinChallenge
Follow me on Snapchat @nickynicolebear for more Makeup x Trap x Sushi!
#TheMUATour #AINIOM #MUA #TrapMusic #Sushi