Raisa Flowers Is Pushing the Beauty World to Rethink Makeup

TV: How so?

RF: I wasn’t doing it for enough money before then, but from then [on] I started to blossom and my work grew. I went to the club a lot, and people would ask who did our makeup. That’s where a lot of people know me from – us all being club kids.

TV: That makes sense. So many of your clients are deeply involved in the music and arts scene in New York and L.A., and I’ve been introduced to new beauty brands by seeing them on people’s faces at a party. From what I understand, people assume you’re a musician more often than a makeup artist. What kind of music would you play if you could? 

RF: I feel like my style would be rock inspired by rap. My client Junglepussy is a good example: She’s alternative and funky. I wish I could play guitar like her. Also, Khaki King – they play a guitar with their nails. Khaki has these long, acrylic nails, and when I see them they’re always shredding acoustic guitars with these amazing claws.

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TV: What advice do you have for people who want to help effect change in creative industries? You’ve been outspoken on unequal pay before, and have won awards for your innovation.

RF: Everything takes time. People will eventually be ready for you, when it is your time. Don’t get discouraged when you aren’t getting booked – work will come. Never be thirsty; always be hungry.

I also ask friends and allies in the industry: “No offense, but how much would you get paid for this?” Because a lot of the times Black people don’t get paid the same rates as everyone else. They may not have worked as long as you or [be] as talented as you…but they get paid more. I work hard, I’m passionate about what I do, and I would love to be paid equally. Pay me what I’m worth. Makeup artists back in the day were paid lots of money. Those big paydays only come now if you work with a huge brand, and even that’s not guaranteed. So pay transparency is important.

TV: The beauty industry is going through an intense reckoning during COVID, including projects like 15%pledge and #pulluporshutup, both movements run by Black women. It’s been a long time coming. What are some conversations you wish more people were invested in? What are some frustrations you haven’t seen resolved yet?

RF: I love being in the industry, and right now, people are telling the truth and sharing their experiences. A lot of times people have had to hide. But if you experience something bad you should be able to talk about it. I don’t want the industry to become even more male-dominated; I want people to understand the perspectives of people other than men. I don’t want to always feel like I have to overstep someone who’s a man because they don’t get what I’m coming from.

I understand that in beauty there are a lot of women, but men usually take the photos. A lot of them are my friends! But when you tell certain people you work with that maybe you should try something else, they often use their view of beauty to overpower everything. And everything doesn’t have to be natural. Fashion and beauty are so expressive, and it’s gotten boring. I would love to see more flair, like when I used to look at magazines when I was younger.

What can you relate to if you’re into something more? We’re already in the future, but are we going to be sitting in flying cars with a natural beat? Really? Fashion determines how people judge other people. So, when people see extra-ness, they go like, “Ugh, that’s so much,” but if they were used to seeing certain things, they wouldn’t be so judgmental.

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