The makeup artist: Turning passion into profession

Christal Davis holding a makeup brush.

Christal Davis (B.S.’14/E) started experimenting with makeup as a drama kid in high school. When she came to Virginia Commonwealth University to study health, PE and exercise science in the School of Education, she took a part-time job scooping ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery to help pay for books and other expenses but, she says, the hours limited her availability to participate in campus life. 

“I was tired of working at Cold Stone … and missing out on the Final Four [basketball] games, and so I chose to make some extra money to pay for my books another way,” she says. That was the beginning of her side gig as a makeup artist, which ultimately led her to establish her Richmond, Virginia-based brand, ChusBeauty, providing makeup services for weddings, engagement photos and other special celebrations.

How did you become a makeup artist?

I have always had a passion for creative arts, but began my makeup artist journey at VCU as a way to make some book money. I am self-taught by simply practicing on myself, my family and my Rhoads hallmates. I quickly realized the college atmosphere was the perfect arena for me to grow my craft, as VCU hosted many events where my classmates needed glam.

How has being a VCU alumna helped your business grow?

VCU has granted me the opportunity to meet such a large and diverse community of people to share my craft with. Many of my clients have followed me on Instagram after graduation and have shared my information with the people they know. 

How did you get started in special effects makeup? What has been your favorite SFX look to create?

I actually began doing costume makeup in high school as a member of the theater team. I love the idea of being able to transform into whoever you want to be, or not. Makeup is temporary; you can take it off. But for me, it’s my escape, my therapy. My favorite look by far is a half skull I created a few years ago. I was a certified MAC artist at the time and was featured on their national Instagram page.

What advice do you have for budding business owners, especially those wanting to break into the beauty industry?

Find your niche. We live in a day and age where many markets are saturated with people who do the same thing. Finding what sets you apart is going to set you up for success. As far as the beauty industry, just start. That’s with anything really. Don’t worry about how many followers you have, who’s going to like it or if you have the most luxurious brands in your kit. People will pay for your niche. Develop that, practice your craft often and the success will come.