#BeenThereLearnedThat: Camara Aunique on Focusing on Your Path and Your Path Alone
By Kia Imani Robinson
There’s something to be said about someone who has developed a successful career with their passion at the forefront of it all. Camara Aunique is living proof that when you follow your heart and work hard, everything else will fall right into place. Aunique is a makeup artist and beauty expert who has developed a lengthy client roster which includes names such as June Ambrose, Lisa Price, Chloe and Halle and Justine Skye just to name a few.
The Life Currency spoke with Camara Aunique about her career journey and the lessons she learned along the way. No matter what industry you’re in, her advice was quite simple – always focus on your path and no one else’s.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
I actually started in retail. I was working in Macy’s and started working at the Estee Lauder counter while living in North Carolina. I ended up moving back to New York but remained with Estee Lauder because I really enjoyed it. I gained some experience and made the transition to working as a full-time artist with Lord and Taylor. This opportunity allowed me to build my clientele significantly. I remember I was required to make a certain amount within a year and with my hard work, I was able to exceed that goal and help the store reach historic heights. I eventually ended up joining the MAC team at Henri Bendel with the sole purpose of becoming a stronger artist. I took a pay cut and sacrificed a great salary because I wanted to become stronger at my craft.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I always knew I couldn’t work for anybody. So while with MAC at Henri Bendel, I knew I had to figure out a plan, stick to it and get out of there. I worked part-time and spent the rest of my time focused on building my clientele and getting up out of there. Yes, the first two years were super hard but I did what I had to do and I got out.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
I’ve learned to not watch what other people are doing and to only compete with myself. With Instagram and social media, it’s so easy to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes I may have to unfollow certain people to remain focused on my journey and my journey alone. I can’t always watch what others are doing because I don’t want to question where I am in my career. I have to always focus on where I am currently, where I want to be and what’s next for me.
What’s something you wish someone would have told you when you first embarked on your career journey?
I wish someone would have told me how hard it was to gain clientele. I kind of wish someone would have “put me on” or assisted me with gaining clients. The struggle was real! Now, when there’s a job I can’t do, I always pass it on to my assistant. I look out for her the way I wish someone would have looked out for me.
I’ve learned from my experiences how I would and wouldn’t treat people. In the beginning, you’re struggling and you may feel a little discouraged. I teach my assistant not to pay attention to what others are doing. Be happy for others because when your time comes, it’s going to be worth it.
What advice would you give someone just starting in the beauty industry?
Always learn. Keep learning but be careful who you’re learning from. In the beauty industry specifically, people may say they’re “a professional” when in reality they just took one or two lessons. Before you pay someone $600, make sure you do your research. A lot of times the makeup we see on Instagram isn’t the makeup that will necessarily get you hired. Most times, your clients are going to want to look as natural as possible and that’s a skill.
Additionally, people need to learn how to assist. You have to start somewhere. You should start assisting others, learn from them and that’s how you’ll build your clientele.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love how I make women (and men) feel. I love when my job is done and they look in the mirror. That first reaction is what I live for! I love watching my clients take selfies, take Snapchat videos and feel good all because of the work that I did.
Kia is a recent college graduate that's simply trying to grasp the concept of "adulting". She enjoys hugs, quotes, a good book, and all things motivational. Her favorite book is The Alchemist and she can watch Girlfriends all day long.