It’s Only Beautiful

Updated: Jul 9, 2020


| This is the 131st story of Our Life Logs |

I used to love watching my mom do her makeup. I remember how my mom would put me in a highchair when I was just about one or two years old, and lay out some of her old products. I’d spend hours playing in the used-up tubes of lipstick and compacts. I loved rubbing the colors all over my face. I used makeup like a regular kid would use crayons.

Doing my mom’s hair as a little girl.
Doing my mom’s hair as a little girl.
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Ashland, Kentucky is a small town, and was probably even smaller when I was born there in 1993. I grew up with one brother in a very close-knit family. My parents were very outspoken and open to letting me express myself.

When I was really young, my parents put me in a few beauty pageants. Putting on all the colors and sparkles was like playing dress-up with all the other kids who were also competing. Later in high school, I returned to beauty pageants in hopes of winning scholarships for college. In the beginning, I loved talking in front of a crowd and understanding my strengths and weaknesses as a person. But I’d be lying if I said that being publicly rejected by a panel of judges who scrutinize every aspect of my persona didn’t hurt.

I had a normal high school experience and graduated in 2012. Like most, I went to college without any idea of what I wanted as a career. I knew I liked makeup, but I couldn’t major in a hobby. I changed my major a million times and ended up with University Studies. I remember saying that I wanted to get a degree to have a good life, but what I really wanted to do was…not this.

Me posing after signing with a college in 2012.
Me posing after signing with a college in 2012.
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Around 2013, I met Travis. He was sweet and funny, and it didn’t take long to know that he was the one. He had big plans to serve in the US military. I knew deployment was coming, but it didn’t hit me until that moment truly came. He was gone. It was like having your best friend just disappear. He left a big hole in my life. I wanted to do something with my time that would make me happy. But what did I like? At the time, I was only doing makeup for myself and occasionally for friends, but it wasn’t enough.

Me and Travis, 2017.
Me and Travis, 2017.

Around 2016, more and more people started getting big from their beauty social media accounts on Instagram and YouTube. Not only were they posting basic makeup looks, but some featured inspiring artistic looks. I thought, “I can do that.”

I bought a good camera on Craigslist and picked it up at a gas station from two people who looked like they…maybe didn’t own the camera. Anyway, I went home and started messing with it. I had NO idea how to work a camera, but I just started taking a ton of photos of myself.

Now it was time for my first makeup post on social media, and I was terrified. I felt like I was stepping under the microscope. I looked through all the photos I’d taken, analyzing each one for any reason not to post. Once I found the “perfect” ones, I clicked “Share.”

This set me on the path I was destined to walk.

My first makeup post | Image courtesy of @maddyryan14
My first makeup post | Image courtesy of @maddyryan14
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When Travis came back, he moved to Ashland to be with me, and he was incredibly supportive and happy to see me doing something I loved. As I posted more often, I noticed some makeup companies were holding picture contests. I saw that ELF Cosmetics had a contest running that asked people to post three pictures that matched the theme they were looking for. I decided to enter the contest because, why not? Honestly, after I posted my entries, I completely forgot about it until I received an email from ELF in March 2017 telling me that I had won. What?! By this point, I had only been posting makeup related content for about six months, but they clearly thought I had something, which felt awesome.

My prize was a package full of their products and an invite to an event they were hosting in Austin, Texas. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the number of experienced beauty people there. Learning about their thousands of followers, watching their big, fancy cameras, I felt so out of place.

I wondered, “Should I even be here?”

Thankfully, some of the other winners there took me under their wings and made me feel more comfortable. They taught me about social media posting and how to increase my audience, and I went home happy. But when all was said and done, I worried that I had reached the peak and it was all going to go down from there. No, I refused to flicker out when I was just opening doors in this business.

I was able to make connections from the ELF event which helped me get noticed by other cosmetic companies like MAC and Laura Mercier. I continued working small jobs and posting beauty videos on the side. Benefit Cosmetics launched a contest where people had to recreate the company’s four eyebrow styles. This contest was BIG. It had over 11,000 entries and only 20 winning slots. Was there a chance I’d win? Probably not. Still, I decided to enter because regardless of the results, I enjoyed experimenting with the styles. I couldn’t stop myself, I posted 15 styles with the contest hashtag.

In September, I enrolled in cosmetology school because I knew my passion was in beauty. But it seemed like all we were doing was fixing fake hair on mannequin heads. I didn’t like it, but I felt like I had to stay. This was the safest route to my dream.