We had the good fortune of connecting with Aja Ali and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aja, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success & the success of my business would be the conviction and confidence I have in myself and my abilities. There’s been plenty of times where I was told to “just go to college” because a career as a makeup artist was risky or I might not make it. A lot of times I didn’t get the support I really wanted from friends and family. That in itself can be enough to make someone want to give up.
What stopped me from giving up was this feeling I had in my gut that was telling me to pursue my passion. It was unshakable. So instead of choosing to feed into that insecurity that I felt everyone else around me believed, I chose myself.
That’s what drove me to quit my job and go to school to become a licensed esthetician. Which then led to me working at/managing a makeup store & eventually manifested as me being a full time freelance makeup artist.
Without the conviction and confidence I had in myself, I would’ve never made it to where I am today.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from others is my passion for creative & SFX makeup. I absolutely love to transform myself and tell a story with only a few brushes and some makeup.
What I’m most proud of is the progress I’ve made in the past few years. Sometimes I find myself being a bit impatient and wishing I was further along in my career. I have to remind myself that the place I’m in now is exactly where I dreamed of being a few years ago.
I got to where I am today for many reasons. I had a few people who supported me fully from the beginning which gave me the strength to have confidence in myself. Investing into my business is another one. Every time I had extra money, I would use it to buy supplies I needed to become a makeup artist full time. Having consistency on social media was another big one. I would pop out a look almost every day and post it. I just wanted to continue to practice and put my work out there.
The process wasn’t the easiest. There were times when I was struggling financially and I’d have to take the bus with my equipment to get to an appointment. What got me thru it was the conviction I had in myself. I began saving up as much money as possible to get a car and place of my own.
One of the greatest lessons I learned throughout this process was the law of attraction. The more you focus on and believe in the things you want to experience, the more you’ll experience them. The same goes for the opposite. I started implementing this in my life and it completely changed how I experience myself.
What I want people to know about my brand and story is that I want everything I do to be rooted in love. Makeup is a way for someone to fully express themselves and feel confident; whether that’s minimal makeup or a complete drag look.
In the past, I struggled heavily with figuring out who I am or wondering if I was good enough. With makeup, I’m able to be whoever I want to be and I don’t worry about being good enough for other people because I know I’m good enough for myself. I want to provide that experience for every single one of my clients.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in Atlanta, there’s so much life and culture anywhere you go in the city. One of my favorite places is Little Five Points. It’s a little strip of stores & they have a bunch of stands outside where people sell their products as well. The whole place is dripping in culture and good energy. Another spot I really like is Caribbean Delight. I go there all the time for their veggie plates. It comes with cabbage, greens, plantains, rice & peas, sweet potatoes and black beans. If you’re more into American food, Helen’s Hot Chicken is a great place too! They have some of the best chicken tenders. I’m a total animal lover so the aquarium and zoo are great places to visit if you’re anything like me. There’s also a cat cafe called Java Cat that I am so excited to go to!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give a shoutout to my boyfriend, Joseph Hairston. Honestly, he has been my biggest and most consistent supporter when it comes to my career. He’s also an entrepreneur (producer,rapper,etc.) so he understood and supported me from the start. He saw the potential I had and did whatever he could to help me.
Thank you for being there to uplift me and support me throughout this whole process.
Other: This is my business Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/illuminatingbeats/