One of the best things about New York Fashion Week is the countless talented people you run into. From photographers to bloggers to models, everyone has a unique story worth telling and a path worth observing. Insert Brittney Ward. Production assistant by day and make-up artist in between times. We met Ward on a calm New York afternoon. Much like her elegance and charm, Ward’s professionalism penetrates every facet of her being. This is evident after letting her know we are on our way soon to which she replies, ” I’m here. I decided to come early.” Sitting quietly at a table, her demeanor is like green grass and blue, clear skies after a treacherous storm. The storm would be in this case fashion week. But just as the wind moves quietly and with purpose, her journey into makeup has been a rich and interesting one.
Her passion for make-up began helping ladies at Clinique. From there, her experience grew and her skills have afforded her a pretty nice portfolio for someone still getting started. She has utilized her hands for the likes of Naomi Campbell, Covergirl and Oprah’s ‘Live the Life You Want’ tour.
Check out more below as Ward tells us how she got started, to where she is now and what she has planned for her future.
Styled to a Tea: Tell us how you got started in make-up.
Brittney Ward: I went to school for hair and make up while I was in high school. Then I ended up going to Shaw University in Raleigh North Carolina and I got a degree in Communications and Television Production. At that time, they were firing and not hiring in 2009 and the market was extremely low. So, I became account manager of Clinique Cosmetics. That’s how I first got started at Clinique Cosmetics where I became the account manager and then from there it was literally like a rolling ball. I went from Clinique to MAC to Lancome to Ulta to Sephora then I started to dibble and dabble into concerts. As I started to get bigger and well known, so from there my very first concert I was the Brand Ambassador of Cover Girl for Taylor Swift. So, this was all in North Carolina in a very small town. I ended up moving to New York with 110 dollars to my name. That’s all I had, and my dog. I moved here and I started applying on the difference web avenues like Indeed, Craigslist and just kept it rolling. My first tv job in make-up was an independent film called I want to say Misaligned. What I had to do was get rid of the line in the person’s hand. That’s a little bit of special effects and that was my first time doing it. We nailed it so, I had to practice.
START: What for you was your breakthrough moment?
BW: I would have to say [pause] I haven’t reached my breakthrough moment. My breakthrough moment would be to encourage women through the beauty avenue, so I’m not there yet. I’ve come a very long way but I don’t think I’ve reached my breaking moment yet. I did have a really good highlight moment where I was the Brand Ambassador for Cover Girl again.For Oprah during her ‘Live The You Want’ tour in New Jersey. I was one of the make-up artist for that.
STAT: Tell us about that experience.
BW: Oh my goodness. It was amazing! It was exactly what I wanted. To just reach out to the women of all different shapes. All different sizes and just help them with their beauty whether it was an eye lid, a lip, or talking about their skin and foundation. It bought so much joy and it made me feel great. So, that was a big highlight but I don’t think I’ve reached my breakthrough moment yet.
STAT: What made you choose makeup?
BW: It’s so funny because even though I have a license in cosmetology, which is technically the study of everything. A lot of people don’t know that. They think it’s just hair, but it is the study of everything. I realized that I did not want to do hair. Give me a make-up up brush and not a rolling brush. It’s actually funny because my first job was Clinique Cosmetics and the person that was training me was Caucasian. Never did a Caucasian woman in my entire life. So, she sat me down in the chair and she said, “Do my make-up.” I looked at her like she had seven heads like, “Are you serious?”
She said, “If you’re going to be the manager of this counter, you’re going to have to learn to do everybody and anything. So now I look at every woman or man as a blank canvas and I don’t stereotype. I just add color and go.
STAT: What do you have to always carry with you, whether it’s in your purse or in your make-up bag?
BW:My favorite product is Extreme Plump. It helps plump your lips. Now, as an African-American woman, I do not have that issue. However, I just like it to be a little fuller. I absolutely love this and it’s called Sexy Mother Pucker. It’s $22 and you can get it from Sephora. It doesn’t give you the extreme blow up doll look. It plump just a little bit. You do feel it working but it’s not like a numbing feeling.
STAT: If you were on a stranded island, and you could only have five things. What would those things be and why?
BW: Do I have internet service? No?
STAT: You have internet service.
BW: I would have to bring my laptop, my make-up kit, even though it’s just me by myself, I still need to feel pretty. Like, every woman needs to. I would probably find some coconut water and hydrate my skin with it. I would take my dog with me. Just to have a little friend there. Some tools, because I would have to build like a shed or something. The fifth thing would be my flexibility rods or a small sewing kit. So, I could see bamboo together and make a skirt. Always being creative.
STAT: So, make-up is obviously very important to you. How important is the skin underneath. How do you prep your skin or your clients’ skin when working with them?
BW: Well, to start off, skincare is the foundation. I always like to say that your skin is like a house. If the foundation is not good, it will not be sturdy or hold anything. I live by that theory. I prep my client’s skin with a series of questions. What is their skin type? What are they using? Personally, I’m a product junkie but if my client is already using something, I’m not going to force something on her. I’d rather them use what they have and add to it and then build with it. Moisturizer is key. Exfoliation, I’m very big on. Also, I like a toner. It just makes you feel so clean. I like a toner. I like a good exfoliation and a moisturizer. In getting into the make-up, I believe you should spend money on a really good primer. A little goes a long way, but not only that. It just helps create a barrier between your skincare and your make-up. So, your make-up doesn’t seep directly into your pores and mess up your skin.
STAT: What makes a really good lipstick?
BW: It depends on the client. Some people don’t really like the matte lipstick which is really drying. Some people don’t like the shiny lipstick. So, it really does depend on the client. What makes a good lipstick is the color. I love long-lasting. I’m talking all day. I don’t have time to reapply or retouch. I do like YSL. Long-lasting, vibrant color. Very easy to use. Very easy to apply. These days everybody’s always on the go. Convenient, quick, reliable, sturdy, and great color.
STAT: What makes a really good eye shadow?
BW: Color again. Especially, as an African American woman, I love color. It has to be sustainable. I like EyeGlot. Their eye shadows are really good. Of course, everyone loves MAC. Who doesn’t? Something that is also moisturizing on the eye is really good. A lot of people, especially living in New York city during the winter time, their eyes are very dry. So, you want an eye shadow based on that reason. Like in Florida, I wouldn’t do a moisturizing eye shadow because of the humidity. In New York I would because the climate is different.
STAT:What makes a really good bronzer?
BW: I love bronzer. Again easy. Not messy. Doesn’t roll all over the place. Stays in place. Very high in color. Saturated. A matte bronzer is good too especially in the winter time.
STAT: What makes a really good eye liner?
BW: The intensity of it. I always say if you’re going to wear make-up, go ahead and wear it. Don’t play with it.
STAT: What makes a really good mascara?
BW: Something that does not clump. Easy to apply. Straight to the point. Gives the results that it says it will give. I understand that sometimes you may have to do two or three coats of something. However, if you don’t have the time, you just want one coat and go. I realize that in this industry and this world we live in. Convenience is everything.
STAT: Lastly, what makes a good primer? I’ve never worn primer before.
BW: Not too thick. Not watery but like a sunscreen almost. Maybe a little thinner. Like a second skin. You’re putting on all your creams and your serums for your skincare. Then you’re putting on your primer and you’re make-up. It’s like fifteen things on your face. So, you don’t want it to feel heavy. That’s definitely the key.
STAT: What does a typical day or work week look like?
BW: Sending out emails all day. Thank you emails from the networking events. Sending out,”Hey do you remember me?” emails. Working on my next gig. You’re only as good as your last gig. Fashion week is now over. What are you doing right now because last week doesn’t even matter. It’s in the past so what are you doing now? So my question for myself, “what am I going to do next?” I’ve actually signed on to do an independent film in August but I have two weeks until August.
STAT: So, when we met, you mentioned you worked with Naomi Campbell.
BW: She’s very nice. She is awesome. She’s not high maintenance at all. Even though she’s the queen of fashion, you can sense this humility. What I really appreciated and will take from her is that she looked everyone in the eye and said hello to them from the smallest person to the upper person. If she looked in the mirror, she’d probably say hello to herself. She has a very nice aura about her. Fashion week for Naomi Campbell was kind of crazy because it was so many names backstage and it was so many people, but it was a very humbling experience. I’ve came a really long way. Everything I learned at the counter I do it now from customer service to calling back your client’s to recommending new products. It’s a ladder effect. You gain the skills and then you grow on it. Surprisingly, the skills that you learn in the beginning, don’t change.
STAT: Where do you want to be in five years?
BW: In five years, I would like to have my own cosmetic line and my first book. Of course dealing with beauty and fashion and self esteem. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood where people thought I wasn’t going to make it. I’m 28 and have a degree and no children. It’s possible. You have to have the drive and you cannot be a part of the statistic.
It is apparent that Ward has no plans to slow down. Her resourcefulness and passion continues to propel her in an upward direction. As we are all aware, the sky is not the limit. It is only a view.
See what Brittney is doing in Instagram @iambrittneyw.