Sunday, May 22, 2011

Featured Professional - BGD Make-Up Artistry (MUA)

 An Exclusive Interview with a focused artist that
even when disaster strikes, she prevails...
BGD Make-Up Artistry of New Orleans, LA.

Written by:  Tracey Mitchell 

It is true “Trouble don’t last always”, and Brandy Gomez-Duplesis is concrete proof that no matter how bad the “storm”, with a dream and drive anything is possible. Gomez-Duplesis tells us that her job is much more than just powdering and painting faces.  We got the story on what inspires her and how Hurricane Katrina played a role in her success. 

Did you always just have a dream of becoming a makeup artist?
-Always. Doing makeup, designing clothes, I wanted to be an interior designer, so all in those three realms…basically I wanted to be in the art field.

So when did it hit you that this was what you wanted to do?
-Oh, I knew it when I was a little girl. I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist. I don’t know if it’s the Libra type thing in me, because I am a Libra.  I used to watch old Hollywood movies. and I felt that “old school” Hollywood elegance. It always caught my eye, and I just always loved it since I was a little girl. I knew that this was what I wanted to do because it always made me feel good.

So how did you get your start and take your dream and turn it into a business?
- I started at Estee Lauder in Manhattan, N.Y., and I worked there part time. One day there was a guy that came up and he asked if I would like to join him [as an] in-house [makeup artist], but as an intern, under the [actual] in- house makeup artist. Well for less than one year, I interned. I got my day when the head makeup artist couldn’t do the makeup because she was on leave, and he  asked if I could step in, and I did. The rest is history. My life completely changed for me. Then I flew back to New Orleans, got set up and took a chance and opened my own place. But right away I didn’t open up the shop, I did a lot of freelancing and made myself a brand in New Orleans. Every fashion show, every music artist that came in town, I was basically the makeup artist that was called.

You mentioned opening up your own place. Tell us more about what it.
-After I freelanced, I knew it was time to do my own thing, and I wanted to do something totally different. I didn’t want to do the whole salon-style thing, because I knew that wasn’t me. I was doing research and I found what was missing: a makeup studio, not a spa, not a salon. I wanted to make it a part of me. A part of me is taking half of New York, half of New Orleans and branching them both together. I merged the two and it just took off. I opened a location [in New Orleans] and everybody told me, ‘You can’t do it.’ ‘You’re a black girl, you can’t do it.’ With no parents, no loans, I did it on my own. I was proud about that because I put up my own money. I didn’t even have to ask my husband for anything, it was all me.  I thought, “I did it”, or at least I thought I did it, but I didn’t know the Hurricane was coming.

So a lot was damaged during the hurricane, but you’re still going at it now. What has been your motivation?
-From losing everything, I think that was one of the hardest things I ever experienced. I really went from riches to rags.  I was so loved, I felt like a local celebrity [in New Orleans]. I mean, I received a proclamation to the city August 4, 2005 form Mayor Nagin, and that’s a big thing. Not a lot of natural makeup artists can say they received a proclamation to their city. [After the storm] I walked into my store and saw what my store looked like, it was hard [especially] because I had no control of it. I really built that store with my own hands. I was in a depression after that. I cried and cried, and I didn’t think that I could bounce back. But I had so many people emailing me, wishing me the best, crying with me, wondering if I was okay. The things that they wrote and the love that they showed me, I just thought ‘I got to do this’. I had to bounce back for so many different reasons. I had to bounce back for my family, I had to bounce back for my kids. It was for my pride, the city of New Orleans. That was my hard challenge, to be told that they couldn’t use me because I was from New Orleans. So I had to show them, but it was like, I didn’t miss a beat. It was hard, but I did it.

You also have your own makeup line. How did you get that started?
-It would have been crazy for me to open a studio and use someone else’s makeup line. I got my own. I talked to two chemists that I worked with at MAC, and we started my BGD makeup line. I told them the texture, how I wanted it to feel on the person’s skin and everything else. I had 100 percent input in what I wanted. It was important because something was missing in that industry. I wanted to make a product that lasts, it photographs great, and it’s not going to break you out. I started out with simple gloss, and then worked on eye shadow and foundation.  Right before the storm I was beginning to work on my skin line, but the skin line didn’t happen.

What is your style as an artist?
-My style is glam makeup.  I love making women feel glamorous. I want them to feel show stopping when they step out of my chair.  I like to enhance my girls, and I call all my clients ‘My Girls’.  Some makeup artists have a certain skin color they work on. 

Do you have a certain type like that?
-I’m an artist, and you can’t teach an artist how to paint. Being an artist, when I do makeup, I don’t discriminate because of race or weight. I see a blank canvas.

What do you think are some misconceptions people have about makeup artists?
-A lot of people don’t realize this is a big business. A lot of eouple just think we just paint people’s faces. My dad used to say that ‘you’re just painting people’s faces.’ But this is a very important industry and a very important service that people need in the industry. I don’t think men take it too seriously either.

What are some of your opinions on the industry? The good and the bad?
-The good is makeup gives power and makes you happy, but it is good only when it is done right. The bad is that it is lacking in color for ethnic skin tones. They know that they can just give us anything and we’re going to buy it. They will stick a price on it, and they know that poor black women are going to buy it, because we are always thinking that we need to buy some thing expensive. But I’m hoping it stays that way, so I can just come up and snatch it and provide the right makeup for those skin tones.

So I know you’ve got some things in the works. What do you have lined up for the future?
-I was able to pick up an agent from Zenobia Agency based out of Los Angeles. They believed in me.  They put me on in January [2006], and they have been keeping me really busy. I don’t want to be freelancing for long. I want to reopen the store. I want to reproduce my makeup line. I want to have a makeup book, a show and I want to have a makeup tour. You know, pull up with the beauty bar tour bus and do makeup on the spot. I don’t want to ever go through what I went through again, with having to lose everything and relocate to another city.  I want to own my next building.  

What advice would you give to aspiring makeup artists who have some of your same dreams in mind?
- Do your homework. Go to events. Look at magazines. You have to spend money to make money. Also, know the code. You don’t want to just jump into the business without knowing the code of ethics. There are codes to working behind the scenes. You have to know what colors to use. You have to know what will happen to someone’s skin after an hour once it has set in. Just have your game tight, so that the real makeup artists don’t look bad. A bad look like [Tiffany’s from] I Love New York, can make somebody not want to wear makeup. So do it right.

How can someone get in touch with you?
- Email me at for questions and/or appointments. If it is regarding a media assignment or a celebrity client, they need to contact the Zenobia Agency. I need a publicist who is ready to work hard (lol).