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Ashunta Sheriff | New York | Visualize & Draw!!

I was always a creative kid painting and drawing. My mom encouraged all of my creative activities. I danced at Harlem School of The Arts and then later taught Theater Makeup there for two years. I went to Howard University and majored in Cultural Anthropology and also attended NYU for adult education. I was working and going to classes when I stumbled across the MAC store on Spring Street in SoHo in NYC. I was inspired when I went into the MAC store and began going there almost daily playing with colors and eventually I began consulting women who were in search of that perfect lipstick or blush. I was spotted by a manager at MAC who assumed I must have been a MAC artist at another location because I wore all black all the time and had raspberry colored dreadlocks. When she approached me and asked where did I work I told her that i was an office manager at a near by industrial design firm. She laughed and said I should get a job at MAC. I went home that night and I couldnt get her words out of my mind. I should get a job at MAC and become a makeup artist. It was in Brooklyn in my one bedroom rail road flat apartment that I would write and journal my plan for my life. I was in a highly abusive relationship and I remember dreaming that I was being interviewed by Oprah and she asked me how did I get into the business and almost like a reel of my life’s work was playing behind me with all of these famous people. I seemed in the dream to have accomplished a lot in this career of makeup. I woke up and told my then abusive boyfriend my dream and his response was “well that’s the only thing you’re good at because you’re not book smart.” The insult went over my head but never left my mind. I was good at coloring, drawing and being a creative arts kid.

Those were the moments when I was most happy. A few weeks went by and I was temping at a tech company and I saw an add in the village voice news paper for MAC makeup artist at Macy’s. I left work early and went to Macy’s but was too late according to the receptionist at Human Resources however God was on my side. A man came from the back office and saw me and said are you here for the MAC job interviews I said I thought I was to late he said come with me and I followed behind him and then walked into a room that was dressed in all black and swanky with MAC logos everywhere and there was this man sitting there with piercing blue eyes and sickle black hair and all black clothing and he was a higher up at MAC. He interviewed me for an hour. We talked about my life and my work experiences. He was impressed by my personality and then said they would be in touch. A month later I was asked to do a makeup trial at MAC pro and I took my bestie Caterina as my model because she was Italian I knew as a black woman if i did her makeup perfectly it would be impressive because at the time a lot of stereotypes exists that if you’re white you can’t do brown skin and vice versa which we know now isn’t true. I did Caterina’s makeup and the MAC manager at the time for the soon to be opened Macy’s Herald Square location Kit Hamilton said beautiful job. I was called a week later and offered a job and the rest is history. From MAC i began freelancing, doing music videos and then landed a job being P. Diddy’s groomer for a several years. I also worked with a lot of male artist and atheletes at the time like Jay Z, Ray Allen, Derek Geter, Warren Sap, Pharrell, Lennt Kravitz, Usher.Michael Jordan and many many other greats! From male grooming I landed a bigger agency and then began doing female entertainers like Rihanna, Ciara, Teiarra Marie, Hillary Duff, La La Anthony, Ashley Simpson, Sanaa Lathan, Olivia Palermo, Sharon Stone but it would be my decade plus work with Alicia Keys that truly brought my talents to the forefront which I am forever grateful for.

I toured the world from Europe to Asia to Africa to Australia and New Zealand with Alicia Keys and Forbes our group will be family to me. I am just a little girl from Harlem who liked to draw and color. It all began watching my beautiful mother do her own makeup and faux lashes and look like a celebrity wen she went to perform, out with her friends or to church. Plus my sister is a long time master Barber and hair stylist and my late aunt was a model signed to Wilhelmina when she was younger so I was exposed always to this medium of makeup throughout my life. I just followed my heart and my dreams because God showed me the signs. I believe to be successful it requires risk taking and that day I left my temp job early not without issues was a risk but it paid off majorly. Now I’m a makeup artist who has worked on major TV shows and films, major entertainers worldwide and developed a product that is a cult favorite for many. God is good He gets all the credit because he placed the vision within my soul and I just listened.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

I saw a void at the time in the beauty industry to create one product that could truly multitask for highlighting, concealing and giving coverage for foundation.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I dreamed about it and then I began to visualize and draw my concept out. I asked around to various manufacturers and no one made the type of packaging I wanted and then my partner at the time went to a trade show over seas and found a company that made what I dreamed of.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspirations are for sure Sam Fine Ana Kevyn Aucoin both masters at the art of makeup and great visionaries to think beyond makeup and think of themselves as a brand. They both had a signature beat as we say in makeup and you could look at an actress or singer and know who did their face. Pretty genius’s and taught me to think beyond makeup.

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I believe the first aspect is visualizing yourself on another level. Journaling and also keeping your visions private. The less people know the better because when you work in silence there’s no energy from others depreciating or not supporting your visions or dreams. Because not everyone wants to see you grow.

What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

1. Taking risk

2. Setting intentions

3. Mapping out a plan

4. Saving for the plan or finding the finances to execute the plan

5. Marketing and creating a buzz for your brand that’s going to equal better Sara for any product based company

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

When I launched on QVC it was a dream come true for me even though I’m no longer there it was a huge checklist off of my bucket list but I learned a lot from it as well. Sometime starting big is good and sometimes building a buzz and building a brand and growing into a big brand is also a blessing.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Continue to think outside the box. I was the first Dual Ended foundation stick on the market before any other brands. That idea came from years of work and wanting to create a product that simplified makeup for women. I saw a problem and created a solution. I believe more entrepreneurs need to think from that perspective and not just literally become exact replicas of the next brand because long term you want to stand out and be seen as a visionary especially for a beauty brand.


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