It's 6:45 pm on a Sunday night when I approach the address that was sent to me by the person I would be interviewing for the night. The building as you could tell from a far is old but yet, behind this big reddish orange door lies magic. Walking towards the door which is now opening, I am instantly greeted by a smile and a "Hi" by Make-up artist Ashaki Dale: A 23 year old Jackson resident who resides in Georgetown, a predominately black neighborhood on the west side of Jackson. Ashaki is shooting promo shots for her opening day as having a stand alone session at Apollo Hair Design. As I'm greeted, I observe the 60's/70's interior. I'm in awe.
The salon in which I realize we're in feels like my grandmother's house. I can tell that great stories were told here, I can tell civil rights meetings and gossip were told here by many afro wearing queens. I embrace and take in the moment...accompanied by my own mini photoshoot.
Ashaki is in her section preparing for a client to come in to get her makeup done or a full face beat down as the millennials call it. She puts her brushes in one cup and palettes brand new, are neatly placed beside them. She's anxious, nervous, and you can tell.
Her client, Shaun, calls to say that she's 10 minutes away. After the call, Ashaki starts setting up lighting and placing her new makeup chair in front of her instruments. She wants to get a really good picture of this. With the little free time she has, we began getting a couple of pictures of herself. In front of the camera, this nervous girl from Jackson, instantly turns into Beyoncé from the 9th Ward.
Ashaki's client, Shaun finally shows up. This is Ashaki's first time meeting Shaun and like me, she greets Shaun with the warmest "Hi" and a hug. Let me not forget to mention that Ashaki has this ambience and this light that lets you know she's going to take care of you. I think it's safe to say Shaun felt that. "You are so pretty!" Ashaki says with the biggest smile. Shaun gives off the cutest blush. "Thank you, you are too!" This is the way that women should embrace each other.
Ashaki finally starts on Shaun's makeup. For this look, Ashaki, really didn't have a game plan. This time, it would be freestyle. Shaun and Ashaki began to talk about makeup and how it was Shaun's first time actually having a full face of makeup done. Ashaki compliments her with saying how for a face like her's, makeup was not necessary. Knowing now, that compliment would play a role in Ashaki's frustration later on through the process.
30 minutes into the process, Ashaki becomes a bit irritated. When questioned what was wrong, she admitted that she didn't like the way the colors worked with Shaun's face. She also commented on how it was new for her to work on someone who in her eyes didn't need any kind of enhancements. To her, Shaun was already perfect.
For Ashaki, she felt as if she couldn't go any further with a look that she did not believe in. So, she started over. This time Ashaki used bolder and darker colors to compliment Shaun's skin color. A deep blue and violent red.
Seeing the ending result, both Ashaki and Shaun were satisfied. There was this ray of happiness that shined over Shaun. This is the look that Ashaki wants when dealing with clients. The look that says, despite how I felt before the makeup, I feel beautiful and empowered now. Leaving Apollo Hair Salon, the main thing that I gathered from that night was that Ashaki is a gift to women and women are a gift to Ashaki, which is why with this gift, she wants to take her time and make sure that it is cared for. I saw that. Shaun saw that. And because of that, Shaun was simply, Painted Pretty...