Seriously, Get Your Kids!

Yeah I said it…

That is all I have been thinking since we got home from the playground this evening.

Let me preface this by saying, I JUST listened to a podcast today that ended with a rant about kids on a plane (The Read)… really just to say … yes kids will be kids… but parents need to PARENT. While I am big on not discussing children’s behavior as a reflection of parenting because there are so many variables…TODAY WAS A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY.

Now people may believe parenting differs between race and age and blah blah blah. While that may be true in some respects, there are no restrictions to being a good parent! Before I even get to tonight’s story and why it pisses me off. For the past 2 years, I’ve been getting those “you poor girl” or “that poor baby” looks when I am at the grocery store and I have mentioned it before. Even this past weekend at the fair. This older woman (with the sweetest intentions) was in front of us in line for ice cream and heard Fi crying because we could not steal the kitten from the fair… so this woman turns around and starts a conversation with Fi. Once Fi settled down a bit she looks at me and says “sometimes you just need to talk to them and calm them down a bit, I know its hard” then she turns around. While I am sure she was not meaning throw the shade I was hit with, all I could think was,

“GIRL! Do you think I just popped up and started mom-ing today? I heard her crying, I knew it was over nothing, I knew she was about to get ice cream and be fine. I also knew she was not louder than the loud rides around us and the annoying game announcers. But most of all I know that I AM HER MOM and I know how to calm her down! She’s not 2 months old she’s 2 years old… in a stroller… she’s fine so turn around and get your Italian ice.”

There was a point in my life, shortly after I left Fi’s dad, when I would look in the mirror and think “you poor girl” but like literally poor, my bank account was compromised… diapers were expensive, formula was expensive and I was making $10-$11/hr working about 38 hours a week at one job then spending my nights waiting tables when I could. BUT…BUT that poor girl turned into that strong woman BECAUSE I never looked at my child and thought “that poor baby” even though things were expensive, she had it. She was still raised to be polite, loving, and kind. You could not see the struggle through my child… my child still does not know of any struggle. I made the right decision for us even if that meant putting my favorite coffee back at the grocery store so I could buy another can of little munchies… I did it… even if that meant staying up until 3 to finish an exam to graduate on time and get up at 6 with my baby…I did it. I knew it would get us to where we are now and allow us to continue to grow. So moving on…

This evening…I took Fi to the park to run out some energy that was built up from spending 4 hours in the car. The first 20 or so minutes I spent watching this ADORABLE little girl audition to be Fi’s nanny, precious. She was holding her like a little baby, she had to be all of 7 years old. THEN terror came to town. I swear I hate hate hate looking at someone else’s kid and thinking “oh hell nah” half the time I am not super focused on the actions of little kids at a playground because I know they are about to turn up… that’s what a playground is for. One of the reasons these little boys caught my eye is because they were probably the oldest ones there and it wasn’t 2 and 3 year olds the kids were ranging from 1 to 6 or 7. That always makes me nervous because I don’t want Fi to get trampled… she is not very fast… so I always pay even closer attention when big ol kids roll up. Then one of the little kids bumped into one of the older boys and he WENT OFF. He said “F*** you B***** I will kill you”.

Wait … What?!

Usually when I hear a kid being bad I am not phased…but the anger and seriousness in his voice actually scared me. I first looked for my kid and got her closer to me (he didn’t want this drama) then I looked for his mom or dad thinking that this kid is old enough to just ride his bike here if he lives close enough. To my surprise, they were both there! And I am like oh.. so you must not have heard this little boy… they did not hear him because they were screaming the same things at each other… many people just kind of left because they were uncomfortable. These boys were serious… they joined in a game of tag between the little girls at the park including my daughter. But… they were not playing normal plain ol tag… or even like old school cops and robbers… these boys were spitting on the other kids and “shooting” the other kids like very realistic gun sounds. Say “boys will be boys” all you want to but to that I will say well “murders will be murders” and these guys were a year or so away from a mugshot and I’m being 100% real. Over reacting? Girl no. If they had not just cursed out a toddler… and sounded like a grown man MAYBE I wouldn’t feel so strongly about what some people may think are normal playground interactions. Now I say these boys were older… but they are still boys  I am thinking 8-10. I know that kids pick up words and actions like they are germs but for these boys to use these words as a mode of defense and to say it with such anger behind it showed that it has never been corrected. They continued to curse openly at a park full of children with no remorse for their influence and in front of adults with no fear of punishment.

Then I hear Fi say “Hey, you don’t spit on me!” I turn and again I am like “oh hell nah”

but then she makes a gun with her fingers and “shoots” back at him… GIRL NO. We do not PLAY that… we don’t play guns at home, at school, ANYWHERE. Guns are not a game. We do not have water guns. We do not have toy guns. We do not watch cartoons with gun violence. That is a personal preference for me as a parent and I do not care what fun the other kids are having playing sniper… my child will not because violence and death is not a game. So yes, I embarrassed my girl in front of all the kids. I was loud so maybe some other people would take notice (shade intended). It is not my job to parent all of these kids. If one were to run out in the street in front of a car would I try to stop them? Yes, as a clear minded human being, yes! But in this case, I let her know that WE do not play those games so she better stop now before its game over for the night and she’s in time out. The boys gave me a look… and I felt myself giving a dirty look back but I remembered that these are boys and even though they want to play these grown up, prisoner in training games, they are still children. So I instead looked up and around to attempt to make eye contact with one of the people who, in writing somewhere, is their parent… they were still fighting and it seemed like in the time that I had been focused on Fi around these little boys… the number of kids they had multiplied ! Two kids, not much older than Fi, were in the front of their car beeping the horn at joggers. They had a little baby in an infant car seat. Fi loves babies and was pulling me to go peek in the car seat with her… nope I had seen enough. Plus, at this point, the “parents” were giving me this look like I had their least favorite vermin crawling out of my face.

Loading up the car, letting the A/C kick, I had a more detailed talk with fi about earlier and why I was unhappy with her behavior… as detailed as I could be with a two year old. At this same time, the other family was loading up their car with more kids than I realized were there with them…  They made an attempt. I saw a little girl climb out of the backseat window… drop to the ground… brush off and run away.

It was the same girl that was verbally attacked by… her brother? When it happened she looked him in the eye, looked down and ran away… sad but she did not cry and did not run to her parents… I was hoping that was because she was would never see him again but it was the opposite. In their attempts to wrangle these kids, they sounded like the little boy only louder…

I never did look in to see that little baby in the car seat. Seeing that type of innocence, that familiar innocence, in what seems like a volatile environment was more than I could handle. I do not know these people but the old ladies looking at me in the store by myself with a baby, would not have given these two parents a second look as long as their kids were quiet. These are two people continuously reproducing… these are parents.  No one is perfect when it comes to parenting… but give if you are going to continue to put kids on this earth remember that one day they will be adults…. just freaking try. They don’t have to be straight A students or the next presidents… just TRY to steer them towards… not being little jerks that grow into adult jerks.

Fi has taken some shots at being potty mouth since we got home and she scored an early bedtime (insert corny mom laugh).

I try to be uplifting  and positive with the things I post but I am not ignorant and I want to make sure if I am not around, Fi still knows right from wrong and is not afraid to speak up on it. What good is recognizing all of the good in the world without identifying the bad?.

Mom or not, what would you have done?





“I don’t know about you… But I’m feeling”

Old af.

But forreal. This week flew by! And at some point I turned 23!

The day itself isn’t much to reflect on. I woke up next to God’s greatest gift, my Fi. Thanked the Lord for allowing me to see another year. Followed by some normal… Birthday stuffs. All in all a good day.

I’m always in awe when I realized another year has passed.
I’m as grown as I wanted to be at 16.

How do I feel? It’s an odd mixture of unphased and stronger than ever.

Since my 22nd birthday I have grown

-and to be quite honest…. tired.

Like I said it is an odd mix… I am tired of all of the bull and I like always…I am tired of wasting my time but the annoyance is so much stronger and that is probably because I am hungry… I am the most passionate and driven as I  have ever been in my LIFE.

Since this time last year,
I moved across the state. Changed careers. Celebrated Fi’s 2nd  birthday. Loved. Lost. Learned.

The turning point of 22:

So I had a friend… a friend of over 10 years and I feel like after a certain amount of time you do not let relationships like this go because it’s been over a decade. I let go. To be quite honest it should have happened at 21. Since 20 it has been clear that it is just Fi and I against the world and while we have an awesome support system you have to be able to see who is not on your team. It happens but I am not at a place where I want to get mad or get even I just want to get away.  Everything happens for a reason and it just makes me appreciate all of the real and all of the love even more.

I would love to say there has been more success than struggle but I would deem it equal. I believe in myself more at 23  because of what I have gone through. 22 showed me that my goals are achievable.
Starting 23 with a new business and a job offer for the job I wanted!

So many other crazy and awesome things are happening.

It was a happy birthday! Short sweet…

Thanks for the love. Back to normal next week (promise)


I told you…

Well guys…. the deed is done.

I have been harping for the past month or so that things need to change around here and there is going to be a big change… despite my fears… I made a change. I am no stranger to change, but like many others I have a fear of failure… but I needed to stop fearing my own happiness and possible success. I have gotten fired from jobs, I have had a failed engagement, I have flunked a test or two. It took me 3 tries to get my drivers license when I was 17!
So at this point I was ready to jump.

Back story:

Earlier this year I had the AMAZING opportunity to interview at very large university for an event coordinator position in their student union… literally  my dream job. The school was amazing, the trip was amazing, the interviews were amazing, I got back to the airport I was… glowing. I waited by the phone for a little over a week until they called…

I got the job… they wanted me…ME! I was overwhelmed with disbelief an gratitude and I could have accepted the offer right then and there… but this was a big deal… a big move… 7 hours away from our home. So I had some time to make my decision. I had to take that time seriously because it was not only my life changing. There is Fi…. and her grandparents, her friends at school, my best friend who’s son is Fi’s best friend… and there was Fi’s older brother ….and her father…
For the past… almost year… we have lived about 3-1/2 hours away from the other side of my daughters family. It was a struggle with her father… but it always seemed to work out. Until now. When approached with the option and attempts to make the visitation schedule work, Fi’s dad! It was a big thing and in the end I had to turn down the position in order to keep the peace. *disclaimer: I was heartbroken, truly. Which I am sure that was the goal. But I have since forgiven because that is who I am and I cannot force someone to make certain decisions or think a certain way.  It took me a second to dust off this fall and get back to the me pursued these opportunities originally… basically I had to get back to the MONEY.

SO … What now? Western MD has become our home. If we couldn’t move then we need to focus on making this our place and being happy. I couldn’t continue to sulk over my lost opportunity. But when I went I went to school here, I stayed away from the community so for the longest time I felt disconnected from the place that I call home. I have recently found ways to connect with the area as an adult and I have fallen in love. Plus I love Fi’s daycare center and her doctor! So I was committed to make this work.

One of my good friends that I met in the strangest Spanish class during my first year at FSU, lives in the area and hangs out with Fi and I a lot. Billie Jean (yes, Billie Jean from Basic Makeup from a Basic Girl.) really helped me adjust to real life in this area. (Thank goodness for Billie Jean)
Well one night, Billie Jean sent me an email out of the blue. In my world, emails are official so I was pretty interested. The email basically said

“Let’s start a business–here is a proposal and this is my idea… take a day and think about it”.

I spent an entire 24 hours obsessing over the idea! That’s a big deal, that’s a big move… but I am the first person to say “I will try everything once” and if not now..when? and why the hell not? So we made a plan… and ran with it. If I can brag a bit… Billie Jean and I are determined as hell. Does not matter if it is trying to fly a kite or starting a business… if we want it, we are going to work hard and get it.

We got it…

Simply Classic Events

And we did it our own way… I did not tell my friends and family…
Not because I fear critics… I rather show THEN tell. Part of the reason behind creating Sound of Reign was a way to show people who know, love, and support me that there is more to me than just my 9-5, mom life, and co-parenting… stuff. I like to write, and read, and discuss ideas, debate, review… I have ideas and beliefs. While I LOVE LOVE LOVE all that goes into being a mom even the challenges of being a single mom, there is not much time for me to express myself after the bedtime routine. My days were blurring into each other. I knew I had things to say and goals I wanted to accomplish with Sound of Reign. Which led me to opportunity to pursue another dream of mine… Simply Classic Events!

SCE is an event planning and management firm. Start to finish, we know how stressful hosting an event can be whether it is a child’s birthday party to a wedding… we want to relieve as much stress as possible. Customer service has always been a big part in everything I do. I have been a sandwich artist at a subway to a waitress to an insurance sales rep… not the most desirable of careers but I knew that the service I was providing could easily make or break someone’s day. When I became an event planner last year, I knew this is where I needed to be, this is what I needed to be doing! All of the skills I have taken on since I started working when I was 14 years old led me to this point and have helped me become confident and successful in this business. Every client I have worked with has impacted my life and changed my views of customer service.  Above all, I love to work. I am happy that we have created Simply Classic Events because we are able to create our work, we get to do what makes us happy!  I enjoy designing and updating our marketing materials. We love meeting and exchanging ideas. We are excited to hit the ground running.

Obvi I will keep SOR updated with the norm but also with the progress of Simply Classic if you don’t mind 🙂
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and continuously supporting Sound of Reign it has been unreal. I cannot thank all of my friends family and followers enough! (and yes another feedback from fi will be coming soon!)

Please take the time to check out Simply Classic Events and like our Facebook page (Simply Classic Events on Facebook)

so much love…




The Disappearance

UGH ! Guys I am so sorry.  I specifically said…

“Look out for another post before we go on vacation”

LIES. I just ran off to my staycation.
Yes, staycation… so could I have written? YEP
Did I? Yep!

So where is all of this content?

Well for now, it is the deep dark pages of the notepad in my iPhone… I am that person.

Sh*t has been just TOO real lately friends. Like in the world… I try to stay knowledgeable on current events… I was great about it in college. I don’t want to sound ignorant but I make it a point to avoid my once favored news channels now. How do you look at the TV and see people that look like you being killed by people who are meant to protect you then see your protectors killed all on the same channel… then turn around to a living room full of fairy dust and blissful toddler imagination, with your sanity in tact?  It’s terrifying. I talked myself out of running to the store the other night for milk and icecream for two reasons… 1: I don’t need to be spending  5 dollars on Talenti and 2: because it was after dark. I live in a safe area and I do not think I have ever been targeted by anyone… but at this point I am not scared of law enforcement or BLM (not that there are protests in this area that I have seen)… I am afraid of violence in general… the past month has just been brutal on my mom mind… on me as a human being — no skin color, no sexual orientation… Just as a person who cares truly about other people… There is no need for further identification. Just as person with a heart full of love and a mind full of worry all you want to do is shield your children… and pray…

That could just be me.

Other than that my staycation has been a hustle by choice… I will never stop working… and I am finally able to choose my projects and delegate my time and truly develop some amazing things that I cannot wait to share with the world!

But… last week…

I took a pause. For a moment I have been waiting  for since my daughter was born.




My heart melts just reliving it in my head…

  • Obvi we have facetimed back and forth and had phone conversations and social media… so there was never a disconnect between the three of us. But there is no better feeling than having the person you reach for during your highest and lowest times, back in your arms.

Wait, I am being rude …(blame my 3 day mental disconnect from society) Let me tell you about the man receiving these praises…

My brother is 5 years older than me and we have been connected at the hip since I graced the world. (The anniversary of that special date is coming up next Thursday. Just so ya know) ANYWAY– being 5 years older my brother was always burdened with the task of watching me… and despite my many attempts to end his reign… he took greatest care of me. When we got older, he became my partner in crime. I guess I passed the many tests of being locked in the basement by his idiot friends and having to clean his room to avoid my dad knowing what a badass I was when he was out. My brother taught me how to drive, how to eat (neatly) on a first date, how to pump gas in the freezing cold, how to fight (which I would never do !). Outside of me, my brother was an amazing dude growing up… he always had a ton of friends, many of which are still around to this day. I envied his charisma, he could make anyone smile just by entering the room. He is still so silly and dramatic and lovable. This was probably the greatest time I had with my brother because we are GROWN UPS. We were running the streets (ridiculous term my dad always uses when you are anywhere besides home) with a car seat now.. and it was like there was not 700 miles separating us for the past two years .

I could not squeeze him tight enough.

Outside of those couple of things my mini hiatus was just much needed break.

I snagged some cuddles from Fi.

I caught up on trash tv

I traveled outside of my comfort zone

I looked at a city from 22 stories up, amazed….unafraid

I slept. I MEAN SLEPT.

I set some goals

I forgave some hurt

I was happy

I am happy…..

Now that I am recharged… Remember how I said I was working on some amazing things? Well if you follow my social media accounts…you’d see my mentions of big changes to come. Real quick: No I am not engaged… or pregnant… or moving to a far away land. I am getting a little ballsy and releasing everything to everyone at the same time…. so family friends and followers. It will be news to everyone…

But in the meantime, I will be generic posting (trends and things that will give you life, maybe some updates to my photography page…etc etc) until I can publish all of the “notes” in my phone (legal mambojumbo) that is unless I have guest submissions or topic requests! Post them on any of our social media accounts!! I have had some people message and ask “how hard is it to be a single parent  and is it worth it?” or “How to balance school/career and an infant? ” which is awesome and I have a guest submission on one of these topics that I am excited to share (there are some other awesome single parents out there hustling) I am going to do another throwback Thursday story (like the flashback Friday virginity post) once I run it by everyone involved.  So that’s what there is to look forward to. I am always checking my messages and stuff so I am not disappearing completely. Trust me it is worth it.

If you want some irresistible sarcastic humor that you might gain something from you can do what I have been doing with all of my time in the car lately- PODCASTS! My new love affair. Do your heart a favor and step away from Facebook… backspace that ridiculous Hilary tweet… and listen to:

The Brilliant Idiots -Charlemagne Tha God and Andrew Schulz (aka my future husband). Its hilariously relevant without being overwhelming! If you watch Guy Code or Uncommon Sense you already know how funny these two are.
SUPER explicit! Not for kids… or even teens!

If that is not quite ratchet enough for you look into “The Read”-Crissle and Kid Fury. I had no idea who these two were – I knew Crissle from uncommon sense but this is a whole other level of great. This is easily when you and your best friend sit on the couch scrolling through Facebook going back and forth with “hmmm , why did so and so post all that” (maybe that’s just me and friends…) but… its an informed look at hip-hop and pop culture with a bit of shade and lots of tea. Lets not pretend we all don’t enjoy gossip every now and then (specially when it has NOTHING to do with you). Hilarious escape from reality. *again, super explicit.

If you just want to know some stuff… if you just want to sit back and absorb information… try the Embedded podcast from NPR…. yes… NPR… What? I can’t be a ratchet intellectual?

Embedded reports the news stories worth hearing but you would have to search for on your own. These podcasts go deeper into these stories and they are GOOD. Amazing reporting –every detail is clear. Two episodes that REALLY stood out to me, I mean I seriously think about these everyday are:

1: The House– the first episode of the series. The host explores an HIV Outbreak in Indiana that was onset by the abuse of a powerful painkiller. It is really amazing to hear the change in people as they are growing increasingly dependent on a drug that is truly ruining their lives.

2: The League– This is a few episodes in… I am not super “sportsy” to be real I almost skipped past this one… but if you are gonna binge, you have to commit. I am glad I did! This one goes inside of the NBA’s minor league… the “D” League… for the good enough players waiting to be drafted to a major team..if ever… this story is gripping..


Check it out! And let me know what you think! I am going to run because I am currently “that person” in the coffee shop with 2 minutes left on my meter!

If you don’t follow us yet do so!

Speaking of “following”(real quick I swear!) do adults still use twitter? If so… for what? No shade I just want to know. I deactivated my twitter about a year ago because I kept getting hacked… but the hacker wasn’t posting horrible things about me… he was posting horrible things about himself… weird… oh well. So anyway, I have been twitter free for about a year and I was reading about the celeb tweets about the BLM movement and all that and snooped I mean stumbled over to my little cousin’s twitter page and goodness… teenagers are the most terrifying human beings. They are mean as hell! I am so serious if she was not going in on one of her “ex bffs” (who I am sure has a twitter that she could tag but she’s not bout that life) She was COMPLAINING, past first world problems… this is a category of its own. Her tweets just looked like a MySpace survey… just answers to a bunch of personal questions that NO ONE ASKED. But that’s not even the best part… She does this thing I LOVE. She tweets like four or five tweets in a row of her personal business… she seems to take a break for an hour… then tweets “I wish every0ne would mind their own mf business.” I’m in tears from laughing so hard. Phew. The moral of this story is the next tbt post may be full examination of my MySpace from middle and high school (yes, I still have the password) and my AIM account which I am shocked still works! Well not really “ebbysosickk” is impossible to delete. After seeing teenage twitter…I won’t be doing this for a trip down memory lane… I need to prepare for battle… we have 11 years until the monster is loose. I need to know what I am up against…



Thanks so much for the kind words and messages within this past week… they seriously make this easy and I love it–and you…




Interview and Makeover with Kris James, MUA


A few posts back I posted a photo of an awesome makeover I got while I was in Southern Maryland visiting family (Feedback from Fi -Pt 2) and I promised to post all the details. The makeup artist is a great friend of mine who has perfected her craft over the years and it is truly impressive.

Like I have mentioned in previous posts, I LOVE LOVE LOVE makeup but I am super picky about how my foundation looks and how my eyeshadow looks and my lips have to be on point! Kris killed it. It was seamless and she kept me super involved in the process. I know that not all of my followers know Kris and the one who do may not know that she has decided to start her own business and do this full time (awesome right? You know I love a hustle!)

So I wanted to give her a spotlight on my page, One: because she is great at what she does.
Two: Because she is taking leap and starting her own business, that takes some true passion and dedication.
And three: Because she is an all around amazing person. I know first hand she will drop what she’s doing and come save you no questions asked. She is an awesome mom with ambition which is admirable to anyone.
This is beneficial to anyone thinking of changing things up or taking new chances and need a bit of inspiration.

So after we finished all the glam and took photos I had a lot of questions!

eb-So for people who don’t know you…tell me about you. How long have you been doing makeup? 

KJ-Hi readers! My name is Kris James.


 A mommy who likes to play in makeup with my three-year-old, a company freelance makeup artist, a college student, overall clean freak, and an owner of a business still in its infancy. I’ve been a beauty advisor for about 5 years at various retail stores, a freelance artist for 2, and this is my first year solely dedicated to my own artistry as a profession. I’m accredited through two major companies, but I’m looking forward to going back to school to learn the workings of independent artistry as a personal business and always excited to broaden my experience in technique. Bridal is my main squeeze, but my career has encompassed prom, boudoir, runway, and various other photo shoots/events. 

eb-What made you want to break out on your own?

KJ- I think it was a combination of needing flexibility between my home life, work, and school, and the pushiness that comes with retail. At a counter, you’re given sales goals to meet each day–ones that are often way too lofty for the foot traffic coming in the door. You’re constantly acutely aware of what products you need to push in order to meet this goal and appease your boss under the consolation and guise of making “commission” (often an extremely small percentage of the sale), which makes for a stressful day and creates beauty advisors akin to the people at the kiosks in the mall, just trying to sell you anything and everything in an abrasive way. We all know and avoid one; I never wanted that to be me. I always struggled with that–I often found that when customers came to my counter, they were often doing so in a very vulnerable state; whether that was in the form of an embarrassing skin condition, an evident lack of self-esteem, or their trust in me to create a certain look for them on an important day. Customers really open up to you and take your advice and expertise seriously; you’re often their last ditch effort in a long journey of trying and buying on their own, only to meet disappointment in the mirror again and again. To try and capitalize on that just to meet a daily sales goal is beyond wrong and extremely burdensome on everyone in my opinion; by all means, if I have a product in mind that I truly believe will help you with your concern, I’ll suggest it regardless of the price. People go shopping to spend some money. But any sale I make should be because I stand behind that product, not in fear of my monthly sales review. Product loyalty got a little sketchy for me too–don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love at least 80% of the entirety of any brand I’ve worked for, but I know what works better and might cost less across the department and I don’t want to be beholden to a brand so as not to give the best recommendation possible. This line of work runs on a sense of intimacy, acceptance, and understanding, and I love that about it–but when you sell product instead of your time, it is hard for both the customer and the advisor to ensure purity and truth at the counter 100% of the time. Now that I am selling a service instead, I’m free to be “real” with each and every client, and I’m free to find out what works on my own as well, too. There’s a whole new world outside of what you find in your neighborhood Macy’s–and a lot of really great stuff inside of it too–but skincare and makeup is never a one-size-fits-all, and no brand will ever fully encompass that in my opinion.

“My personal business gives a whole new dimension to my passion, really liberating.”

eb-You’re a mom too, was it hard for you decide to take the leap to leave your job and start your own business? 

KJExtremely. I wrestled with this decision for at least a year before finally leaving, and admittedly still question it sometimes during my business’ slow weeks. If nothing else, retail gave me not just a steady paycheck, but my coworkers made up the majority of my adult interaction during the week and the commute to work was my “me” time. I could bump obscene music the whole 30 minute ride instead of Disney’s hits from movies neither my son nor I have ever seen, and best of all was the private bathroom I could use ALONE. I really coveted my job because it gave me a taste of my individuality back–at the risk of sounding like a terrible mother, it was like stepping into a time machine back before I had Tristan as I had worked there long before he was born and I was so comfortable and familiar there being the “me” I was before it was “we.” I feared that if I quit, the house and all its cleaning needs would rise up and consume me, my son would contract separation anxiety suddenly like a contagious disease, every bit of homework I stayed up until three in the morning to complete would be devoured by the dog and we’d all be miserable as the walls closed in. Melodramatic, I know, but a genuine dread nonetheless. Being a parent is my most important job, however, and it was time to examine my hierarchy of time spent. Of course raising Tristan was at the top of the list no matter what, but anyone who works retail will tell you that if you’re also a student, in a relationship, or have any other facets of your life that you deem important other than obsessively monitoring your ever-changing work schedule, the lines can get pretty blurry pretty quickly. It took me six years to get one associates degree–ironically the same amount of time spent working retail. Obviously that is my doing, but the correlation was clear in my mind–this job, however much I loved it, often made it difficult to manage other aspects of my life, and I was tired of my own irritability with my man and child after coming home from the night shift, never having a free Father’s Day to spend with my elderly grandfather, losing my motivation to sit down and write that essay, etc. I will forever be grateful for it though, as I could not possibly be doing what I’m doing now without the experience it taught me. Its certainly one I believe everyone should have, as it truly gives you a swift kick in the time management.

eb-When it comes to running a business when you’re selling your talent and time… how do you balance your input (like materials) with your profit? 

KJ-This can be a slippery slope and is one that I’m still working on climbing. Retail and company freelance don’t give you much experience with this obviously, so its really been a learning curve for me. I think first and foremost you need to consider your location. Being in rural Southern Maryland and really just beginning to get my business out there, I have to be aware of what is reasonable for my area–you can’t be charging typical L.A. prices in Mechanicsville, nor do I ever want to overcharge period. At the same time, most of what I use in my kit is professional grade and either requires extensive travel to acquire or must be ordered, so my prices have to reflect that. (As a disclaimer, I have absolutely nothing against drug-store products; there’s some out there that are just as good if not better sometimes than high-end.) I try to take inventory of what I will need within the next month after every job, so that there’s never a need for a huge and costly haul all at once. It’s a big reason that I charge a retainer at the trial run–the trial is free as it’s my opportunity to prove myself to the client and for them to get a good feel for me, but the retainer ensures that not only is the client’s date secured, but any product they request or I need to restock will be readily available.

eb-What tips would you give other people just starting out or thinking of starting a business of their own?

KJ- Believe you can do it. Cliche, I know–but critical. There will always be someone with more experience, a better portfolio, a more interactive website, lengthy lists of certifications you haven’t gotten yet, a more advanced kit. But we all start somewhere, and your personal journey takes place the minute you’re inspired and motivated enough to make a change, even if you don’t know how to do it just yet. Stay humble, but don’t sell yourself short. When you run your own business, its important to be just as cognizant of your abilities and rates as you are your self-worth and what you have to offer; losing focus of that is the ONLY thing that can lead to “failure.” Don’t lose the qualities in yourself that clients are attracted to in a race to further your business or get your name out there–that’s for the mall kiosks. Remember we’re all human and you’ll get there when the time is right, with the right strategy and attitude. Be different and compare yourself to no one, especially in this industry–its your uniqueness that is your ultimate business card and will get you noticed.

^^^^^Read that TWICE^^^^^

eb-What is the proper etiquette for a client when working with a professional makeup artist?

KJ-NO KIM K. REFERENCES WHEN TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE LOOK YOU’RE GOING FOR. Just kidding! (But not really.) Its really all in the preparation for the event. If you’re getting a wax–anywhere–do it no sooner than three days before the event; if you’ve ever tried to put foundation on after you’ve gotten your eyebrows done, you know what I mean, not to mention the possibility of breakout or irritation. Be upfront about any skin issues you have–your makeup artist, waxer, hairstylist, dermatologist, etc. have all seen way worse than your current zit or cold sore, we’re people too and it happens to all of us in some way or another–but rushing in without notice heightens the risk of spreading, improper sanitation, bad coverage, and a whole slew of other nastiness. Give your makeup artist and yourself ample time to work comfortably when possible; when we’re both rushed is when miscommunication happens. Be realistic about your goals, but let the artist know the minute you’re not 100% with what’s being applied–we’d much rather be kindly redirected towards your vision than have to backtrack and still get you out of the chair in time. Put your phone down, please and thank you unless absolutely necessary. And don’t try to constantly cut deals–your makeup artist has calculated rates down to a science, all while trying to give you the best deal possible; take it for what it is when its quoted and honor that the day of the event. Its appreciated when clients discuss their budget and a general idea of what the contract will entail, but try to keep your number of bridesmaids relatively consistent and don’t spring on an extra three people because we had time left over unless you’re willing to pay the same rate. Take care of your skin as best you can beforehand, as makeup will always look its best on skin that is been ritualized even if you’re in the midst of a breakout or experiencing redness. I know this can be a lot to consider on what may already be a hectic day, so I often try to put some guidelines in my contract so the client will know not only what is expected of me, but what they can do to help as well.

eb-What are your long term goals? 

KJ-Eventually I’d love to travel to do my work, really for any occasion. Bridal is my comfort zone, but I had the opportunity to do runway and I fell in love with it. Boudoir is a big new interest for me right now that I’d like to hone in on long-term. I definitely try to branch out with every job–it is very easy to get stuck in ruts whether it be in trending technique or the type of shoot/event you’re doing and I never want my portfolio to seem stale. Further down the road I’ve considered opening up an actual salon or teaching others, but that’s rather over-zealous right now as I still consider myself a baby and will always have a lot of learning to do. I’ll forever be a student, but I hope in the long-term I’ll be able to inspire others to be comfortable in both their natural beauty and in the freedom to experiment with new things. If Lisa Eldridge ever reads this, I want to be you when I grow up! (YouTube her, seriously.)

eb-Makeup, I feel, is tricky… because everyone has their own style … how are you able to satisfy every request when it comes to skin tones and different face shapes and skin textures? 

KJ- It certainly can be! I think the most important part of making sure every client walks away happy is creating an accepting environment and simply LISTENING. You have to really get to know them on a personal level–how they take care of their skin, what they absolutely cannot use, what products they love, the vision they have for the overall event you’re getting them ready for. And you have to take each and every skin tone/texture into account when building your kit–don’t skimp on being inclusive with your product range, because while some foundations/formulas will certainly get more play than others, you WILL have that Becky with the good undertone that you never thought you’d use and now can’t match. Sometimes, however, it’s not as easy as a simple consultation or trial run. So often I have clients who bring me in a picture they found on Instagram that they want to identify with, not taking into account their own features or skin tone/texture, etc. This is where I must rant, and hopefully intelligibly. I absolutely love when clients bring me pictures of their vision that they found on social media–it really gives me an idea of what they want, while I’m taking into account what’s in my chair. There can absolutely be a balance that the client will be happy with–but it can never be mimicked. I repeat: it cannot be completely mimicked. Unless you’re willing to walk around with your face wrapped in color-tinted cellophane and attach a particular light to your head, it will never look the same. That’s those Instagram filters we love so much but forget to take into account when we look in the mirror. The right makeup application can do wondrous things, but if you walk away the same blue tone in person as gratuitously given off by “Hudson” or “Nashville,” small children will run screaming and I’ll be out of work forever. While we’re on the subject of “Instaglam” or “YouTube celebrity,” its important to know its history–the household terms we’ve come to cherish so much that major companies have scurried to product-perfect such as “contour,” “highlight,” “cut crease,” “color-correct,” etc. are derived almost entirely from drag technique; that is, transforming what is deemed masculine features into a feminine face. That process of transformation is overdone to really exemplify and/or reshape certain features, such as cheekbones (read: contour/highlight) or to provide a literally blank canvas of a face for color (read: cut crease/color-correct). It’s drastic. It’s not every day. When you’re a female client, naturally having an already “feminine” facial structure, you do not need to completely restructure your face with eight pounds of too-dark foundation and 6 pounds of highlighter that reflects into outer space. It is equally as important for the makeup artist to assess and know how to navigate different face shapes and skin tones as it is the client to have a realistic expectation. And its not to say that I have extreme disdain for what’s exhibited on Instagram or Youtube (Jaclyn Hill is just my favorite ever, love her, watch her all the time), its all artistry, its all beautiful, its all talent. I have so much love for extreme color and transformation that I’ve considered getting into body paint as well. But it is not always realistic. Ask any drag queen (I have) if they think these copy-cat techniques are appropriate for bridal; we’ll laugh and laugh and then get back to reality. It shouldn’t take some arduous process to bring out your best features and conceal what you’d like to hide; you already have the raw materials, its my job to bring them forward in any light–not just a filter. As an artist, you have to be real with clients about this, as our society through social media or company branding will have you quickly believing otherwise. Its great to take inspiration from what’s trending right now; that’s the nature of our business. But your style is your own. Again, its never a one-size-fits all.

eb-As a mom, what are some products you would recommend to other moms for an easy yet glam look?

KJ-When I’m not on a job, I try to keep it as minimalist as possible–all my moms out there can relate, and now its summertime so its REALLY about the bare necessities in this always-pleasant humidity. Nothing grinds my gears worse than stepping outside into the would-be rainforest and foundation melting away just enough so that my child’s handprint from whatever he just HAD to touch my face for is clearly evident. That doesn’t mean that we can’t still have some fun in color though, ladies. My go-to’s for easy and heatwave-withstanding would have to be Lancome’s Genefique serum or any other brightening-without-bleach treatment on bare skin (you know, to attempt to treat those dark circles we all cherish so much), a good tinted moisurizer such as Clinique’s Moisture Surge foundation or Urban Decay’s Naked Beauty Balm (both with sunscreen, which is a must in any season), either a quick cream blush (Revlon is oddly my favorite right now) or earth-tone bronzer to add a little color on the cheekbones, Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz is always a staple, Benefit They’re Real mascara for a noticeable yet buildable cover for lashes, and a pop of color with a tinted lip balm or gloss (pair with a nude lipliner if you have the time, it prevents color bleeding and makes the lips look larger no matter what color you put over top). Scrap the highlighter for a few dabs of your brightening serum over top of your blush or bronzer, and don’t cake with powder when you could use a setting spray, dependent on your skin type. Keep it simple!

Thanks again Kris!
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