Today we’d like to introduce you to Priya Maharaj.
Priya, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My love affair with makeup began when I was really young watching my mother getting glammed up and I myself curious about each product she was applying to her face. Curious so much that I would grab her expensive perfumed creams and sit behind her bed digging out lumps from the jar and dosing my face, arms and legs with the silky creams. Also shaving off my left eyebrow at the tender age of 5 thinking this is how eyebrows are shaped. As I grew up and my family moved from the Caribbean to the US when I was 9 yrs. old in the mid 80’s I was exposed to so many colorful makeup looks and hairstyles, and still ever so curious. In my teenage years, I would experiment with my hair color putting lemon juice or Sun In I believe the product was called, in my hair and sitting in the sun to get my hair to lighten. Wearing vampy, dark reds or vixen color lipsticks because those were the popular colors of the time.
Although I had always been curious about the beauty industry and loved all things beauty and I would be the one friends would turn to, to do their makeup, to experiment with different makeup products and for question about makeup or beauty products. I didn’t think focusing a career in the beauty industry was possible. While I was in College and then going on to work in the tech industry as a web developer, then did I slowly start to realize that I really loved doing makeup and for the first time thought this could be a career, after being exposed to successful makeup artist such as Kevyn Aucoin, Rick Baker, Dick Smith and makeup brand like MAC Cosmetics, which was just gaining popularity. I wanted to be a makeup artist, I wanted to do makeup for film/TV, I wanted to do makeup for clients to see the glow on clients face as they see themselves as makeup enhanced their natural beauty.
In the early 2000’s, I pack up and moved to Burbank, CA and enrolled at The Makeup Designory (MUD) to do the Journeyman Makeup program where I would learn about beauty, and Special Effects Makeup. I was finally on the path that I was supposed to follow. After the program at MUD, I moved back to Atlanta, and started working with various personal clients, I love doing South Asian Bridal Makeup that became what I was known for in Atlanta at the time, as makeup artist focusing on South Asian Bridal makeup at the time were very few. I also worked on commercials, and independent films, and this was before the film industry started blowing up in Atlanta in 2003-2004. I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing I was getting to do MAKEUP!
I took a break from the industry and went back into the corporate world, and moved out of state, but all the while the industry that I took a break from, always had a way of calling me back. So in 2014, I started refocusing on my makeup career and re-familiarized myself with the industry by starting to take on personal clients again, it was also at this time that I also became re-familiarized with The Powder Group. A community for Pro Makeup artist that focuses on continuing education for makeup artist, community building and support for professional makeup artist at every stage in their careers. I was fortunate to connect with The Powder Group at that time, as they gave me the tools to refocus on my makeup artist career again, while also helping to expose me to a vast group of supportive peers. I took workshops after workshops to continue to learn and grow as an artist coming back into the industry after a break.
I know this was the best decision I made to get out of the corporate world where I was working full time as a web developer and really give focus to a career that I know is my passion and I know couldn’t be ignored. Once I started focusing on my makeup career again, it felt like everything fell into place again, once connecting with The Powder Group, my work was published in On Makeup Magazine, I worked Fashion Week under my mentor James Vincent, worked an International Women Empowering Women Fashion Show at the United Nations and I was offered to work with The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine by founder Michael DeVellis. Which I am the Pro Program Manager at The Powder Group and a Content Editor at onmakeupmagazine.com. During this time, I also made the decision to move back to Atlanta, at the movie industry was booming here and I knew there would be a growing need for professional makeup artist here. I started working on a couple of feature films and at the beginning of 2016 I became a proud member of Local 798, The Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Union.
I now work as a full time freelance makeup artist, my focus is on various aspects in the industry, not only on film/TV or commercial or editorial, but I still thoroughly enjoy doing South Asian Bridal makeup, and personal clients.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No it hasn’t always been a smooth road, with any career I think there is always going to be a struggle until you find your niche. I think for me being a full time makeup artist especially when I finished up my Journey Makeup program at The Makeup Designory and moved back to Atlanta in 2002, where the Film/TV industry or even being a full time makeup artist at that time was a struggle. There were not many jobs for a full time makeup artist in film or TV or even in the personal arena. I think at that time hiring a makeup artist for any occasion was seen as a luxury. This was also part of the reason I took a break from this industry and moved back into the corporate world for some time. But as I said before no matter how far you move away from something that you enjoy doing there is always that small voice that calls you back onto the right path. Even now I have had the opportunity to focus on my makeup artistry full time, I still educated myself and am always learning, because you can’t be comfortable I think you always have to be willing to learn and improve, and network and make relationships with people in your industry. This is what leads to new clients and new opportunities.
Priya Maharaj Beauty – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a freelance Makeup Artist, my business is Priya Maharaj makeup, I also do bridal and my company is known as Priya Maharaj Bridal. I specialize in all forms of makeup for Film/TV, commercials, lifestyle, weddings, personal clients, makeup lessons.
I would say I am also known for South Asian Bridal Makeup as my specialty. Being from the Caribbean and of South Asian ancestry, I have an understanding the cultural and the cultural needs when it comes to traditional makeup and hair styling and a mix of tradition with modern. I believe this is one of the thing that sets me apart in the bridal makeup industry, is that cultural understanding, apart from my makeup and styling techniques, I would also say my demeanor. I have always been told by numerous clients that I have a way of making and helping them stay calm on their hectic day. As, I believe my focus regardless of the event or situation is my client, and I want to make them feel and look the best way possible. I know when they are happy their looks turn out happy and they have an enjoyable experience with me. And that is very important to me. I have always been lucky to have amazing clients and I am thankful for that.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Good questions, I think for a lot it may be in the form of financial success, but for me it’s more than that. Success is also a piece of mind, I think it’s finding satisfaction in what you do, finding bliss in what you do and that you have done your best. All the while in finding success it’s also important to me to be at a point in success where you can give back, give back to your community, peers, and dreamers.
Maya Angelou once said “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” I think for me this is a huge marker and to me that is what I look out for, and the ability to also represent that in my brand and to those that I give back to.
- Website: www.priyamaharajbridal.com and www.priyamaharaj.com
- Phone: 617.286.2709
- Email: email@example.com
Flower head pieces 3 Images: Makeup & Hair: Priya Maharaj, Photo: Anderson Smith; Images of Girl with Red Lipstick: Makeup & Hair: Priya Maharaj, Photo: Emmie America; Image of Girl With Black Hait: Makeup & Hair: Priya Maharaj, Photo: Leah Eversley; Image of Girl with Freckles & Red Hair: Makeup: Priya Maharaj. Photo: Sebastian Smith