We had the good fortune of connecting with Janina “Nina” Steele and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janina “Nina”, why did you pursue a creative career?
Why did I choose an artistic and creative career? I am a very colorful and creative person by nature. Colors really excite me. Just dealing with the color combinations, various hues, and be able to express myself through makeup is therapeutic and fun for me! I love to draw. I use to draw and sketch as a way to cope with things when I was younger. I definitely had a rough childhood, so the colors in my drawings always brought out the brighter side of life. I started playing around in makeup in 2007, while enlisted in the United States Army. My wardrobe was pretty colorful, so I would play with colorful eye shadows to complement what I was wearing. From then on, I would learn more about applying makeup by watching YouTube videos and practicing different techniques and trends I learned on myself as much as I could. I started to realize that this was a form of drawing or painting, and my face was the canvas. Once I perfected my own look, I would practice on friends and family members.
My hobby eventually turned into a passion. When I left the Army in 2015, I enrolled in Cosmetology school at the Aveda Institute Birmingham. I also got a job working for M.A.C. as makeup artist and sales representative. Once I graduated, I worked full time as a Hairstylist & Makeup Artist in 2017 with the business name Glamorized by Nina. I did that for a little over a year and soon realized that hair wasn’t a passion like makeup artistry. So, I decided to stick with makeup. While working under others in their salon and studios, I always had a desire to have my own. I knew exactly how I would run my business. I learn so much from other MUAs in regard to my craft, professionalism, marketing, and became familiar with what my clientele base was. I knew I had a vision and knew that if I really wanted to accomplish my goals and dreams, I needed to branch off on my own. So in the midst of this pandemic, I took a leap of faith. I did a total rebrand of my Makeup Artistry name and renamed it J. Steele Artistry. I always saw myself as a artist and visionary, so it was the perfect fit. I gained a partner and friendship throughout my journey, and she was always encouraging. We worked on various projects together. So, I decided to collaborate with my co-owner Jasmine Jones, and open up our very own studio, J. Studios. We learned our strengths and weaknesses very well and quickly. A lot of people say that you can have friendships and work together. I honestly feel that as long as you communicate and and be open to learn, having a solid person can be a powerful thing. All egos aside.
Since I love makeup so much, I also decided to start my own Cosmetic Line, Lolita Beauty. I named my cosmetic line after my mother. She has always been a huge part of my life. So, I wanted her name to always live though me and my work. The hustle and dedication, I get from her. I get it from my momma, LITERALLY! I launched on my birthday last year, Nov. 25, 2020. I started with Liquid Lipsticks and Lipglosses. However, I’m in the midst of product expansion and hopefully will be releasing new products Summer 2021.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In our Studio, we consider ourselves “Beauty Therapist”. We strive to give our clients an experience like none other. We want our clients to feel special from the time they walk in the Studio until the time they leave. We want them to be confident and happy with the services we provide. For me, being an MUA is also therapeutic. I suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety. So, I use it as a way to cope with my problems by turning negative energy into positive energy.
Starting all of my businesses was not an easy task, and it was times I felt like giving up. I questioned my craft, technique, and even my personality. There were days and sometimes weeks I would not have a single client. I would get so discouraged. Other times I found myself perfecting my craft by doing makeup for free just to build a portfolio so that I would have content to post for marketing. I would get so frustrated and feel that maybe this wasn’t meant for me. But I always remember that whatever is for me, no one can take from me. I just have to work for it. I learned that all money isn’t good money, and never settle. Be confident in your brand and your worth. Those who appreciate you and what you have to offer will always continue to come to you as long as remain professional and give the clients your best work. I have come a long way these last 10 years. Now that I look back, I could not have made a better decision.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m an outdoors person. So I like to visit places like the Botanical Garden, Moss Rock, or Oak Mountain State Park for a long hike. My nights I like to keep simple. I love live music, so I go to the Plum Bar or the Perfect Note. Sometimes they have live music at other bars or events as well. You can also catch a good time at 4 Seasons, Dirty Ashes, and Hush Lounge on R&B night. I also love Adult Night at the Skating Rink, so Funtime Skate Center is a must for me. My favorite food spots are Eugene’s, Brixx, Urban Smoke, Encore Rouge, and Taco Mama.
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?
There are many people who have had some sort of influence and contribution to my success. My mother would definitely be the person who have supported and encouraged me the most. anytime I had an idea or vision, she was always there to support. No hesitation, never complained. Learned my independence watching her growing up. My mother is a “Jill of all trades”, which pushed me to be a “Jill of all trades” as well.
The other person that is a close second is my business partner, Jasmine Jones. The story of how we met is hilarious to say the least. We still laugh about it to this day. Although we have very similar makeup styles, we couldn’t be anymore different. We are constantly building each other up and pushing each other to step outside our comfort zone. Her strengths are what make her an awesome business partner.
My strongest motivation come from my eight-year-old son, Jabauri. Everything I do is for him. He is my blessing. He makes it extremely easy to be a single parent. I don’t think I would be this eager and motivated without the obligation of being a mother.
BPanda Filmz, Brian Pride Photography, Jeff Suttle, Daz Goodman (Cre8Live Studios), Curtis J. Warren II (Two Fifths Studios), Hollery Morris