I first met the talented Kayla Baker through the agency run by her mother, Sandhills Modeling & Talent Agency but it wasn’t until I sat down in her chair and had my own look created by her for my first modeling photoshoot that I became a firm believer in her Instagram handle @yourfavoriteMUA. I was blown away by her talent, and I’ve been back! She nails it every time. She’s a young woman who’s paved her own way forward, carving out a successful career as an independent makeup artist who is highly sought after to review various products within the beauty industry. Here’s what she had to say in our one-on-one interview.
TM: Where are you originally from? Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the business.
KB: You can say Fayetteville, NC. I was born on Fort Bragg; I’m an army brat. We moved around a bit, but my father ended up retiring here. I’m a trained and certified makeup artist with over 12 years of experience, and I’m dedicated to making sure my clients look and feel like a million bucks on their special day! Although I’m based out of North Carolina, I am willing to travel. I spent over a year working for Walt Disney World Company in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where I helped transform young girls ages 3-12 into their favorite Disney Princess, along with helping Cinderella, Belle, Tiana and the other Disney Princesses get ready for their day!
I specialize in weddings, fashion, pageants, and prom and I have experience working in fast-paced environments with time restraints. I’ve taught makeup classes both nationally and internationally, and my hope is to be the one clients choose to enhance both their inner and outer beauty.
TM: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the beauty/fashion industry?
KB: Growing up I always loved all things beauty. When I was about 7, I remember attentively watching my mom getting ready for her day; admiring her applying her makeup and styling her hair. As soon as she’d walk out the door, I’d raid her makeup bag and try to mimic everything she had just done.
TM: How did you decide to start your own career?
KB: I started doing makeup when I was 15 for my friends doing photoshoots, going to prom, and taking senior photos. When I was 19, I decided that I wasn’t your regular 9-5 kind of girl and I told my parents that I wanted to go to cosmetology school to get my certification so more people would take me seriously. And I did just that. I am a licensed cosmetologist in the state of NC. Both in 2013 & 2015 I went to work for Walt Disney World (Orlando, Fl) in the cosmetology department. Such an amazing, magical, and life changing experience. However, I decided that if I was going to work 12, sometimes 15 hours a day I was going to come back home and work on my own dream.
TM: Were you afraid when you first started out on your own?
KB: Afraid? No, I’ve been so blessed to have my parents by my side every step of the way. I’ve watched my mom run a successful modeling and talent agency all by herself. Life’s too short not to do something that YOU WANT TO DO. Sometimes you just have to step out on faith. You only have to have faith the size of a mustard seed.
TM: What do you love most about the industry?
KB: I love that in the fashion industry there are no rules. You don’t have to color inside the lines. You are free to be you!
TM: Tell us a little more about growing up in and around the industry. Any memorable moments?
KB: With my mom owning a modeling and talent agency I always looked at things from a different perspective than everyone else. On “take your child to work day” I got to follow my mom around as she ran errands preparing for fashion shows or spent all day in a commercial set as she accompanied an actor that was a minor.
TM: What’s your most favorite thing about doing makeup?
KB: I LOVE making people look and feel beautiful. I love transforming people. I feel like a fairy godmother in a sense. When I’m done with a makeup application, and I show my clients their reflection, their reaction is always priceless! It always fills my heart with joy.
TM: What’s been the most rewarding thing about being your own boss?
KB: Making my own hours, hands down. I’m not a morning person (unless I have no choice and there’s an early call time; I’ve done as early as 2AM). I like being able to come and go as I please and take vacations whenever I want.
TM: What’s something about yourself you wished others knew or that you’d like to share?
KB: A lot of people think I’m so lucky because of the kind of business my mom has and how awesome both of our businesses run hand in hand. The truth is I’m trying to make it in the beauty industry just like every other makeup artist and hairstylist, and I try extra hard to pave my own way and develop an identity aside from just being “Jennifer Baker’s Daughter.” I’m super nervous about succeeding, and I lay in bed at night praying to God and asking Him to direct my steps. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that people don’t see. They only see what I choose to showcase on social media. It’s definitely not as easy as it looks.
TM: Name something or a matter close to your heart that you wish more people would take notice on and get more involved with.
KB: Not necessarily a matter but more of a way of life. When I turned 23, I lost my health care because I aged out of my parent’s insurance. Unfortunately, that same year I was diagnosed with a blood clot. I had to battle getting healthy, all while paying for medications and doctor visits out of pocket. It almost ruined my life and altered my career. Basically what I’m trying to say is I want people to take healthcare more seriously. Go get your yearly check up. Ladies go get that mammogram and that annual checkup. Make sure you put your health first. You never want to find out about something when it’s too late. Makeup is fine and dandy, but it’s important that you are actively trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and getting those check ups as you should. Remember that real beauty starts from the inside, health and all.
TM: How did you get discovered by other businesses that now request your review of their products? Describe that first moment when they reached out to you.
KB: Two words. SOCIAL MEDIA. I make it my business to wake up and post EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And use my hashtags. I’ve gotten recognition and booked almost all of my clients via Instagram and Facebook if not via word of mouth. I remember a year ago I told my mom (if you can’t tell by now she’s like my best friend) that I refused to buy extensions any longer and the next time I wore extensions it would be because a company reached out to me to review products. Sure enough a year later (to the week) someone reached out to me to review both makeup and hair extensions, and since then it’s completely caught fire. I’m actually starting to get overwhelmed with the amount of products I’m getting in the mail to review.
Kayla is a phenomenal independent MUA. You can see more of her work and book her via StyleSeat or Instagram @yourfavoritemua.
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