We had the good fortune of connecting with Mercedes Lawrence Marsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mercedes, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risks are an essential part of life, just think before you took your first step , falling was always a risk. I am one to have taken plenty of risk and let’s just say some of them, well most of them, have not gone in my favor. However, I am proud of all those risk because every time I put something on the line whether its time, money, or even my name, I had the opportunity to avoid the “what’s if” and the regrets of being scared of the outcome and not following through. Risk-taking is something I’m definitely familiar with; as a child, being the oldest I never had time to take risks and be experimental. I’ve always felt as though I had to have it all figured out and that I didn’t attain the time to be expressive because I had to be an example for my siblings. Entering adulthood my career began to feel a bit trivial. I realized how many years of evolution and exploration I missed out on and that’s no longer who I am. I’ve began to brand myself and my makeup, making it my priority. I recently took a big risk after my job offered me options that would have helped me financially, but it would’ve required more time and I didn’t want to waste more time and money on something I wasn’t passionate about so I declined . I’ve done everything that I was told to do as a first generation college student , graduated high school, went to college , got a job in my field, and although I enjoy my career as a Behavioral Technician for children with special needs, I can’t ignore the desire in my heart for makeup. I am a ball of light and creative energy. This is my calling and I couldn’t be 100% authentic without taking risks. “With great risk comes great reward” -Thomas Jefferson
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently I am a Behavioral Technician at a center for children with special needs. I love working with them everyday; The kids are awesome and the best part is seeing the progress that they make over time. The sense of making a difference in families each day is what got me to where I am today in my professional career. Although I love what I do professionally I’ve always felt like I was putting my real passion of makeup to the side. I’ve done everything that I was told to do as a first generation college student. I graduated high school, went to college, and got a job in my field , however, I couldn’t ignore the desire in my heart for makeup. As I continued to practice and grow my craft I began taking clients which offered the opportunity to meet many different women who would began to fall in love with my work. Later I realized my passion wasn’t just doing make up but also helping people to feel happy and fall in love with their unique beauty. That’s when Mercy Makers began. I feel so proud of myself for actually just taking the initiative. I remember sitting on my couch watching YouTube videos when I decided to create an instagram account to post my work and to post booking information. I was nervous at first because I didn’t know how business would be starting off. I predicted that once I created that page that I would have more bookings; unfortunately that was not the case, so again I began to feel discouraged. I started to believe that this wasn’t really my calling and that I had wasted my time. The few consistent clients I had were keeping me motivated. They were giving me great reviews and feedback, and a few of them were recommending me to their friends. It was important for me to remember why I started doing make up to begin with and that was for my clients and as long as they were happy and proud of me, I should be too. I am a new black self taught makeup artist in Atlanta. Although the city is over saturated with makeup artist I am confident that I will continue to grow in this industry. I always like to refer to the bread aisle example when I start to feel like there are too many make up artist where I am. When you walk down the bread aisle in a store you’ll see a bunch of different brands all selling bread. The difference is how they market themselves to try to target a certain group. The more I went on and educated myself the better I have become. I am learning new things everyday which is the beauty of makeup. It’s never just one way to do things so there’s plenty to learn. I eventually started a Youtube channel where I share make up, hair, and beauty tips. In the beginning things were challenging trying to balance a job, makeup, and a channel due to my job being very demanding. I was always tired which caused me to fall behind on practicing makeup and being consistent with my channel . The views on my videos began to decrease and my subscribers weren’t growing as fast as I wanted them to compared to others that started at the same time that I did. I began to become discouraged because I felt like I was too old to be just starting out in the YouTube field and that I wasn’t interesting enough because I wasn’t posting consistently. I had to realize that I shouldn’t compare myself to others because everyones lifestyle isn’t like my own. After I began to lean on my mentors and study different techniques of marketing, time management and makeup tips my perseverance showed that I was determined make a difference from my past time and keep going. That’s when my ] challenges became so much more rewarding. Often I may feel discouraged about not having the availability that other artist may have. I fell as if it had an affect on the growth of my business. I try to remind myself that I am new to the industry and I don’t have much experience as many other make up artist. The lessons that I learned along the way is to take pride in my journey because I’m only just beginning. My brand is set aside from others because it is targeted to bring out a persons inner beauty. My goal is to make a person feel beautiful inside and out while catering to the wants of how they want their makeup. I ask step by step questions to ensure that even the smallest piece of glitter is placed in the perfect spot to bring out their features. While I’m doing their makeup I walk them through everything I’m doing and give them tips on how to achieve the look that I am doing for them. This way maybe they can put what they’ve learned to use incase they need to. What I would love the world to know about me and my brand is that it all comes from love and passion. From the very beginning I took gratification in knowing that a client could sit in my chair worried and nervous, but leave with a heap of confidence and assurance. I started doing my makeup in high school and I could never afford to get it done professionally. However, that was a sense of humbling and growth for me. After a lot of studying and researching I notice myself become better and better each time. This made me realize that I have a gift. A gift that I love so much. My struggles also humbled me. I made a vow to keep my prices affordable for those girls like me that just can’t afford to get their makeup professionally done. I take more pride in blessing a beautiful soul than overcharging. My story is what made me who I am today. I take pride in each woman I meet no matter the race, background, or circumstance. We are all beautiful and deserve to walk in confidence each time the light shines upon us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Monday – Breakfast Flying Biscuit Café – Midtown , then We would go thrifting at Buffalo Exchange and Lucky Exchange in Midtown , pack a lunch and take pictures and site see while picnicking at Piedmont park, then later get dinner at South City Kitchen Midtown. Tuesday – Breakfast we would go to The West Egg Cafe then afterwards visit The Fox Theatre and the The High Museum then later eat at Tacos & Tequilas because Tuesdays don’t exist without tacos later we will go to Boogalooo lounge for karaoke . Wednesday – Breakfast at the Metro Cafe Diner then we will make our way to the Georgia Aquarium where we would have lunch then head to the Coca-Cola factory . Then the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Later on we will head over to The Original J.R. Crickets in Midtown. Then after enjoy a night at Painting with a Twist. Thursday – Atlanta breakfast club for breakfast followed by the BODIES museum . Then head to Centinnial Olympic to see the water show. Afterwards go take pictures and walk around little 5 points to site see, take pictures in front of all the art and murals, visit The Vortex, Criminal Records, Junkman’s daughter and more, all of which are in the to the area. Friday – We will kick off our day by getting breakfast at the sugar factory where we can have colorful pancakes and specialty drinks. Afterwards we could head over to TFTI to have a cool photo experience and go shopping in Lenox Mall and Phipps plaza. Then get a beautiful site of the city at The SkyView Ferris Wheel . Later on head to Lips Drag Queen Show Palace Restaurant & Bar for great food and entertainment. Saturday – We would go to Boogalou Restaurant & Lounge for their brunch and bottomless mimosas. And take some cool pictures on the swings . Afterwards Head to The Botanical Gardens to take some amazing pictures and check out the beautiful scenery. Escobar lounge later that night and party like there’s no tomorrow to the latest hip hop music. Afterwards we will eat Waffle House of course they’re open late and there’s nothing like an Atlanta Waffle House. Sunday – We will get made from scratch hot biscuit sandwiches from Butterly Biscuits, a black owned biscuit company in Southwest Atlanta. Afterwards we could wine down and go to Jeju Sauna to have a relaxing experience after a long week. Sunday’s I love to eat soul food so we will go have dinner at Big daddy’s on Old National. Then we would get rest before I take them to our beautiful airport . Where we will catch come cool airport shots.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Yes ! My parents of course for all they’ve done for me to ensure that I have a bright future. My wife for being everything I need her to be whether its a camera man, makeup assistant ,hairstylist or many of the other hats she may wear at the moment . She keeps me focused and motivated and I don’t know where I would be without her love and support. I would like to give a special shout out to Erika Moore because I wouldn’t be here talking to you guys if it wasn’t for her seeing the passion inside of me and trusting me to collaborate with her on one of her shoots. Erika in college knew she wanted to find a career that she can focus on her passion of food marketing, and photography. I’ve always battled with whether I should take the road that leads to more money, or continue down the path to happiness because we often tie happiness and financial stability closely together. To me Erika, follows passion even if it means she struggled financially a bit along the way. She always kept her head up and seems so happy and content with her way of living. I know oneway she’ll probably be filthy rich off of her famous drinks all around the world. She inspires me to take risk and to put more energy into my craft. She has introduced me to some amazing people, showed me that it’s possible for me to start off working for others, and eventually branching out on my own. So shout out to Erika and her creative mind and spirit. I would like to also give a special shout out to my brother Tyshawn Lee. Being his big sister he always saw me working hard in school, working a 9-5 not really stepping out of my comfort zone. He always challenged me to not be …as he would say, “so boring” and do things I wouldn’t normally do. so when I saw him pursuing his dreams at a very young age I decided to pitch my dreams to him and he knew exactly what to say. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten started with my YouTube channel, neither would I have started doing makeup. Just like the sun he spread energy and life into me. Tyshawn is an up and coming musician and at a young age have some amazing music including his single “HOL’ UP”. Tyshawn is on the right track of living out his dream. He is creative, passionate, and inspirational. He is full of talent and his music is cool and relatable. I know he has a bright future ahead of him.
Instagram: Personal: @mercedessimonee Business: @mercy.makeovers
Erika Moore Devin Mann